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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 1st, 2023

Embattled Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler will also exit executive department

Hours after Jay Inslee declared he won’t be a can­di­date for Gov­er­nor in 2024, Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er Mike Krei­dler pub­lished a state­ment announc­ing that he will also be exit­ing the exec­u­tive depart­ment when his cur­rent term ends in 2025.

Here’s his state­ment:

Wash­ing­ton State Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er Mike Krei­dler sent an email to agency staff today con­firm­ing that he will not seek re-election.

“Serv­ing along­side you as Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er for Wash­ing­ton state has been, and con­tin­ues to be, the great­est hon­or of my life,” said Krei­dler. “I’ve always said it was the best job I’ve ever had, and I still feel that way today.”

“The list of issues we’ve tack­led could go on and on, but at the end of the day, I think of the indi­vid­ual peo­ple we help—the thou­sands of fam­i­lies we’ve advo­cat­ed for, day after day. That, above all else, is what makes me the most proud of this agency and of all of you.”

“Now, it’s time for some­one else to step for­ward and car­ry on this agency’s impor­tant con­sumer pro­tec­tion work. I know that my suc­ces­sor will be in good hands with all of you help­ing to lead the way.”

“I intend to work just as hard for the rest of my term as I have for the last 22 years and remain as com­mit­ted as ever to our mis­sion. We have a lot of work left to do togeth­er and impor­tant ini­tia­tives already under­way, from increas­ing pre­mi­um trans­paren­cy for con­sumers to con­tin­u­ing to push for a robust, depend­able insur­ance market.”

“I know that the pan­dem­ic and last few years have been hard on many of you per­son­al­ly and I’m grate­ful for your resilien­cy and ded­i­ca­tion to our work. Indeed, it has been hard on all of us. Now, I wish you the very best and look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work along­side all of you.”

Krei­dler’s rela­tion­ships with the oth­er mem­bers of the exec­u­tive depart­ment or the Leg­is­la­ture soured after mul­ti­ple for­mer employ­ees came for­ward to doc­u­ment a his­to­ry of unpro­fes­sion­al con­duct and demean­ing com­ments. Gov­er­nor Inslee urged Krei­dler to resign, as did Speak­er Jink­ins and Leader Billig.

But Krei­dler refused. He has stayed in office and kept a low profile.

He did not appear at this year’s State of the State Address, for instance, and he has not been seen at many pub­lic or par­ty events.

In Jan­u­ary, Krei­dler’s office pub­licly released an “inde­pen­dent eval­u­a­tion” of the Office of the Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er’s work­place culture.

This con­sist­ed of a work­place cul­ture assess­ment in which 20% of the staff were inter­viewed and 30% of the staff took a sur­vey. 82% of staff also par­tic­i­pat­ed in an anony­mous employ­ee engage­ment survey.

Rough­ly one-third of employ­ees report­ed that one of the things they like least about work­ing at the OIC relates to the Com­mis­sion­er and either media-report­ed behav­ior and/or his work­ing style,” the report found (pages 7–8). 

“These employ­ees large­ly do not feel the Com­mis­sion­er lis­tens to employ­ees and makes auto­crat­ic deci­sions with­out input from employ­ees or con­cern for the impact of deci­sions on employ­ees,” the report continued. 

“Some employ­ees report­ed feel­ing ashamed of the Commissioner’s alleged behav­ior and believe he is resis­tant to being held account­able to rules oth­ers are expect­ed to fol­low rel­a­tive to accept­able work­place behavior.” 

“Sev­er­al employ­ees also cit­ed the ter­mi­na­tion of Jon Nos­ki, the cur­rent tele­work pol­i­cy, and lack of ade­quate safe­ty mea­sures dur­ing the height of the pan­dem­ic as rea­sons for their dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the Commissioner.”

“Of note, while some felt the Chief Deputy shared some respon­si­bil­i­ty for these issues, oth­ers expressed belief that the Chief Deputy was doing the best he could under the cir­cum­stances and believe that he would have been ter­mi­nat­ed if he were to push back against the Commissioner.”

Krei­dler, sev­en­ty-nine, has been Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er since Jan­u­ary 2001 and is the longest tenured mem­ber of the exec­u­tive department.

He has spent most of his life in state gov­ern­ment. He joined the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1977 and the state Sen­ate in 1985. In 1992, he was elect­ed to Con­gress. He served a sin­gle term, los­ing to Repub­li­can Randy Tate in 1994.

After sev­er­al years work­ing for the North­west Pow­er Plan­ning Coun­cil and then the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices’s Region 10 office, Krei­dler decid­ed to run for Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er when Deb­o­rah Senn left the job to run for U.S. Sen­ate. He won and has been con­tin­u­ous­ly reelect­ed ever since, often trounc­ing Repub­li­can oppo­nents by mas­sive margins.

But when Jan­u­ary 2025 rolls around, Krei­dler’s almost quar­ter cen­tu­ry tenure will end and Wash­ing­ton State will inau­gu­rate a new insur­ance commissioner.

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