OLYMPIA, Wash — A bi-partisan group of Senate leaders and Gov. Jay Inslee are calling for Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to resign after they say he fired a whistle-blower who came forward with allegations of mistreatment.
However, Kreidler said Friday he intends to continue serving as commissioner.
A statement from the Senate leaders said the allegations included "abusive and inappropriate workplace behaviors."
In a statement to KING 5 on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) said the whistle-blower was an at-will, exempt employee.
"The agency made the decision to exercise its discretion to end [the employee's] exempt appointment as the OIC’s legislative liaison. This position is an at-will, exempt appointment that the agency can end at any time. The decision to end his appointment was made following ongoing discussions with [the employee] about his role in the office as the agency moves forward. [The employee] has been a valued member of our legislative and policy team and everyone wishes him well in his future endeavors."
The agency gave no reason for the employee's termination.
“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 a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig on Thursday said in a statement that he had serious concerns regarding Kreidler following the “initial troubling reports of his behavior” toward employees.
“Now that he’s decided to fire the employee who had the courage to come forward in the first place, it’s become clear that the Insurance Commissioner did not learn from these past incidents and I believe it is time for him to step down,” Billig said.
Senate Republican Leader John Braun and other senators also called for Kreider's resignation on Thursday.
Inslee followed suit Friday, saying all staff "deserve respect" regardless of at-will status and therefore different leadership was needed.
The Associated Press reports that in previous media interviews, Kreider said he didn’t recall all of the alleged incidents, but acknowledged that he had used inappropriate language “every once in a while.”
Kreidler has said in response to the complaint that he has apologized to staff and “will be open to their feedback as I move forward,” the Associated Press reported.
Kreidler was first elected as insurance commissioner in 2000. He was re-elected to a sixth term in 2020.