April 18, 2022
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued the following statement in response to the story about his use of language and treatment of staff published in the Seattle Times and the Northwest News Network:
“I ran for insurance commissioner to make a difference in peoples’ lives and to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Words matter and I know they can have a lasting impact on the people who hear them, regardless of my intent. It pains me deeply to think that the careless words I have used in the past—even if infrequent—could have hurt someone. I am sorry for any pain I have caused and for taking attention away from the accomplishments and efforts of the people I work with here at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC).
“I’ve been in public office for more than four decades. During that time, society’s norms have steadily changed—and that’s a good thing. We should evolve and get better. Unfortunately, sometimes my language has not kept up with those changes. My actions and those of the OIC better reflect how I truly feel about the need to protect those who continue to face disrespect and outright discrimination from much of our society simply because of who they are.
“I’m incredibly proud of the actions we have taken to protect transgender patients who were denied critical health benefits and for going after the companies that denied their rights. We were a national leader in addressing those issues. And since I took office more than 20 years ago, I’ve believed that insurers’ use of credit scores is a modern form of redlining and I’ve worked to end this practice, which simply perpetuates and institutionalizes the effects of past discrimination.
“I will be more careful with the words I use and will also continue to push the policies that lift people up and protect them against any injustices that remain in our society. I regret that public discussions of my word choices might leave any uncertainty about where I stand when it comes to protecting those who have historically been told they did not have a genuine place in our society.
“At a time when national political figures promote hate and mock efforts to promote equity and justice, when entire states bring their legal authority to bear on anyone they consider to be an outsider, when parents and their children enjoying a train ride are accosted by strangers spewing venom and hate, I want to be clear that I believe in fairness and equity for people of any heritage, any gender, and without regard to sexual identity. I have fought for these beliefs throughout my entire career. Doing so has made serving as your insurance commissioner the best job I have ever had and one I intend to continue to pursue to the best of my ability.”
Editor’s notes: Any media updates will be posted on the OIC’s Twitter account.
The Seattle Times and Northwest News Network referenced an internal memo that was sent to OIC staff on Feb. 11. We are also including the answers to questions raised by the reporters regarding that memo.