Quackenbush resigns – Avoids testimony, impeachment

California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush resigned Wednesday amidst one of the state’s biggest political scandals in decades, Reuters reported June 28.

The Republican stepped down after his lawyers negotiated with state legislators in an attempt to limit his civil and criminal liability. Quackenbush stands accused of using millions of dollars in official settlements with insurers to advance his own political career.

His department struck deals with insurers last year that apparently allowed them to escape $3.3 billion in fines related to unpaid claims from the Northridge earthquake. In exchange, the companies donated some $12 million to the California Research and Development Foundation, a nonprofit now alleged to have used its money to further Quackenbush’s political ambitions.

Quackenbush has denied any wrongdoing. Insurance department lawyer Robert Hagedorn linked the commissioner to foundation activities in testimony on Monday, however, saying that department chief counsel Brian Soublet told him last March that the commissioner had demanded $4 million from foundation funds to finance commercials that ended up featuring the commissioner.

The resignation, which takes effect July 10, will allow Quackenbush to avoid testifying before the California Assembly Insurance Committee and avert potential impeachment.

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