Last May, SHIFT reported on the controversy involving Washington State’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) and allegations of undue influence over an independent judge charged with reviewing third party complaints over insurance plans offered by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Healthplanfinder.
As the OIC’s Chief Presiding Officer, Patricia Petersen was tasked with the responsibility of making “impartial, independent decisions on cases” the public brought against the OIC. Petersen’s primary responsibility was to oversee cases involving Washington State’s implementation of Obamacare. In May, Peterson claimed that Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner James Odiorne, second in command to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, improperly contacted her and tried to pressure her to decide cases the way Kreidler wanted over a period of eight months.
The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) later chose not investigate Peterson’s complaint, stating that Peterson had other options for recourse. OIC spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said there would be an “internal investigation” into Petersen’s allegations of improper influence.
The Olympian is now reporting that, in late October, Peterson reached a settlement with OIC. Peterson has agreed to leave the agency and walk away with a $450,000 settlement of her claims—$100,000 of the settlement will go to Petersen’s lawyers.
As a key aspect of the settlement, both parties have agreed to “a clause preventing the parties from discussing the settlement itself with news media.” In other words, the public will never really know whether or not Kreidler—via Odiorne—abused his powers. However, it is clear that Kreidler is okay with having taxpayers foot a $450,000 bill if it means the information will never see the light of day.
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see the people really are too stupid to know what is going on