(The Center Square) – Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued his second public apology in two months for how he has conducted himself in office. The Monday apology concerned racist, racially insensitive, and otherwise derogatory remarks based on people’s race or status.
“I’ve been in public office for more than four decades,” Kreidler said in a statement. “During that time, society’s norms have steadily changed…Unfortunately, sometimes my language has not kept up with those changes.”
Kreidler’s apology for “careless words I have used in the past” was issued in response to a joint investigation by the Seattle Times and public radio’s Northwest News Network, also published Monday.
The report made it clear that, while some of the remarks went back decades, others were more recent. Kriedler is alleged to have made remarks that could be offensive to people of Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese heritage, as well as trans women.
Kreidler, 78, admitted to using an impolitic or offensive term “every once in a while.” When Times/Northwest News reporters asked the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) if he had a “medical or cognitive condition” that made such things more likely, the OIC stated Kreidler “does not discuss his medical conditions or status with the media.”
In Kreidler’s previous apology in early March for creating a hostile work environment for many employees, he ended by mentioning the good regulatory work that he insists his office is doing.
With the second apology, Kreidler adopted a more combative tone.
“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,” he said in the statement released by his office.
He added, “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.”
Asked for a comment on Kreidler’s latest apology, Gov. Inslee’s spokesman Mike Faulk pointed The Center Square to the office’s comments from early March and said they still apply to the new revelations.
“All leaders, including elected leaders, owe their employees respect and dignity,” the governor’s office said. “Commissioner Kreidler has acknowledged his responsibility to do better and the governor hopes he takes the necessary steps to effectively lead that office in a way that affirms the dignity and value of every employee.”