A defiant Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Friday that he will not resign despite losing Gov. Jay Inslee's support after multiple scandals.
Kreidler fired a top aide who had complained that the longtime commissioner bullied him, used crass language and was "antagonizing staff."
Inslee, in a prepared statement Friday, said that recent events demonstrate Kreidler is "unable to fulfill his leadership responsibility," the Seattle Times reported. Kreidler, a Democrat who was elected to his position, is under fire from both parties, but losing fellow Democrat Inslee's support is significant.
“I cannot comment on the details of an individual personnel matter but the conclusion that an important and valued employee’s departure was because he filed a complaint against me is not true and does not reflect the full context of the story," Kreidler said in the statement.
Kreidler, 78, was first elected as insurance commissioner in 2000. He was re-elected to a sixth four-year term in 2020.
I take full responsibility for my past behavior and recognize the impact it has had on those around me... — Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler
In recent months, a half-dozen potential and former employees disclosed instances when Kreidler was demeaning or rude, overly focused on race and used derogatory terms for transgender people and people of Mexican, Chinese, Italian or Spanish descent, as well as asking some employees of color for unusual favors, the Seattle Times reported. The instances are from 2017 to 2022.
While none of the former employees filed a formal complaint against Kreidler, Jon Noski, the agency's legislative affairs director, did in February. He alleged that Kreidler bullied him on Feb. 1, when the commissioner berated Noski after his testimony in a legislative committee on a bill involving credit scoring.
Kreidler fired Noski last week.
“I take full responsibility for my past behavior and recognize the impact it has had on those around me and the people I serve," Kreidler said. "I have pledged to do better and stand by that commitment. At the same time, I intend to continue serving alongside the dedicated people of our agency and to work on the important consumer protection issues ahead.”