WAOIC: Statement on Personnel Investigation

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Office of the Insurance Commissioner is hiring an outside investigator to look into whether or not Ex parte communication occurred between Patricia Peterson and Chief Deputy Commissioner Jim Odiorne or if she misrepresented what occurred, as well as alleged misconduct by Petersen.

Part of that investigation is looking into whether Petersen sent a copy of her whistleblower complaint to the State Auditor’s Office last week to only one of the parties to a legal proceeding before her involving Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Sending the complaint to only one of the parties involved would be inappropriate to her neutral role in that case.

Petersen was put on paid home assignment at 4 p.m. on May 14 after the preconference hearing involving the Seattle Children’s Hospital case. She remains on paid leave pending the results of this personnel investigation.

The home assignment and investigation are unrelated to the complaint that Petersen filed last week with the State Auditor’s Office, which has since been rejected.

The home assignment is also unrelated to Petersen’s claims about improper discussions about legal matters with Odiorne.

A request for proposals from investigators was posted May 20 on the online vendor notification system referred to as WEBS at the Washington Department of Enterprise Services.

Responses to the request are due by 4 p.m. May 27. The contract with the selected investigator is expected to begin May 29 and be completed within 30 days.

The Insurance Commissioner is seeking to sign an emergency 90-day contract with former King County Superior Court Judge George Finkle of Judicial Dispute Resolution, LLC in Seattle. When signed, he will immediately begin serving as the presiding officer to consider all current and pending legal hearings before the agency, including the case involving Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The Insurance Commissioner hired Finkle in 2004 to manage legal proceedings involving the application by Premera Blue Cross to convert to a for-profit company.

Carney Badley Spellman has scheduled a deposition for May 28 at 1 p.m. at the Office Depot on Cooper Point Road in Olympia.

Media contact: Public Affairs (360) 725-7055