A bipartisan group of Washington state senators has called on Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to resign for firing a whistleblower who reported an inappropriate and abusive workplace in his office.
He has already been embroiled in two separate scandals in the past six months, with allegations of abuse in March and allegations of the use of racial slurs in April.
Kreidler had used derogatory terms for transgender people, as well as people of Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Spanish descent, according to sources who spoke to the Seattle Times.
“I’m talking about meanness, deliberately putting people down publicly to humiliate them, not letting go of the past,” one employee said.
State insurance commissioner apologizes after reports of racial slurs
In February 2022, Jon Noski, a senior aide in Kreidler’s office, filed a formal complaint against him, claiming he bullied staff, used foul language, and “antagonized staff”. He was then placed on sick leave and on the day of his return was fired from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC).
“I shared my concerns about Commissioner Kreidler’s direction of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the treatment of staff members,” Noski said. “It appears that other heads of state are expressing similar concerns.”
In a statement to MyNorthwest, an OIC representative said Noski was an at-will employee and therefore was not protected by any labor laws against being fired in this manner.
“The agency has made the decision to exercise its discretion to terminate Jon’s exempt appointment as OIC Legislative Liaison,” an OIC representative said in a prepared statement. “This position is an at-will and exempt appointment which the agency may terminate at any time. The decision to end his appointment was made following ongoing discussions with Jon about his role in the office as the agency moves forward.
With this latest scandal, Washington lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for Kreidler’s resignation.
“The allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct were disturbing in themselves and called into question Commissioner Kreidler’s ability to effectively lead his office,” said Senate Republican Leader John Braun. “But firing a whistleblower is totally unacceptable, and frankly, the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
“To be honest, I’m troubled by this, but not at all surprised. This is consistent with the behavior he has demonstrated over the past two years in his dealings with the Legislative Assembly and with stakeholders,” State Sen. Mark Mullet (D) said. “Now he is stepping above his own agency’s ethics rules and firing the whistleblower who reported him for his actions.”
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is expected to resign. Although he had an impressive career in service, including many years of military service, it will be overshadowed by his poor behavior towards quality staff members and his devotion to the office well beyond a reasonable length of time. . 1/4
— Representative JT Wilcox (@jtwilcox111) June 17, 2022
Gov. Jay Inslee has since joined the growing number of Washington politicians advocating for Kreidler’s removal.
“All staff deserve respect, regardless of status at will,” Inslee said in a statement on Twitter. “Therefore, I think we need different leadership in this position and I think he should step down.”
Despite mounting pressure from lawmakers, Kreidler has no plans to step down, according to a statement from his office.
“The commissioner has no intention of resigning,” the statement said. “He has addressed his past behavior with OIC staff and remains deeply committed not to repeat it in the future.”
Kreidler won re-election as state insurance commissioner in 2020 with a 65% to 34% margin over Republican Chirayu Avinash Patel, having served as insurance commissioner since 2000.