A hearings officer, who has since been removed from hearing cases, is alleging that the chief deputy to Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler tried to improperly influence her decisions.
But Kreidler’s office says that chief presiding officer Patricia Petersen was removed from cases because of a separate personnel matter that they could not discuss, The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.
Petersen filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Washington state Auditor’s Office alleging that Chief Deputy Commissioner Jim Odiorne had violated state law by attempting to influence her on cases before her. The complaint was filed a day before her removal last Wednesday.
Petersen, who is supposed to independently evaluate cases before her, has been the insurance commissioner’s chief presiding officer for 19 years and decided contested cases for nine years before that.
The auditor has 15 working days to decide whether to investigate the complaint.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Kreidler says that the commissioner’s office will be conducting an internal investigation of Petersen’s allegations.
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