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home / insurance / in the media

San Diego Union Tribune
Jun 10, 2000

Resign -- Now. Quackenbush is unfit for his office

Tribune Editorial
State Insurance Commissioner Charles Quackenbush has shown himself to be unfit to continue in his post. He should resign; otherwise, he will face the growing prospect of becoming only the second statewide officeholder in California history to be impeached and removed from office.

Allegations of "misconduct in office" -- the constitutional threshold for impeachment -- pile up against Quackenbush with every passing week.

The most recent surfaced during an Assembly hearing. Kimberly Brockman, who headed a controversial nonprofit earthquake foundation created by the commissioner, raised the possibility of criminal activities for the first time.

The allegations include falsified minutes from the nonprofit foundation's board meetings and the possibility of forged checks. Brockman testified that she did not recall signing a number of checks and suggested that her signature may have been fabricated by Quackenbush's former deputy commissioner, George Grays. Although no criminal accusations have been made against Quackenbush thus far, he could be looking at jail time if he is connected with any such crime.

Brockman's bombshell is particularly damning because she testified that her resignation from the foundation was prompted by nagging suspicions about how the funds were spent. It appears that she had good cause to be suspicious.

It is shameful enough that Quackenbush strong-armed $12.8 million from several insurance carriers to set up highly questionable foundations in lieu of the insurers paying as much as $3.7 billion in fines for mishandling claims by Northridge earthquake victims. Approximately $1.1 million of the funds paid to the foundations was spent on a television spot and education videos featuring Quackenbush and Los Angeles Lakers superstar Shaquille O'Neal. Another $600,000 went to a public relations firm to help pave the way for a possible run for higher office by Quackenbush.

Quackenbush has no one to blame but himself for this mess. GOP legislative leaders should tell the commissioner as much and urge him to resign, thereby sparing the Legislature from potentially removing him from office.

Quackenbush finds himself in the untenable position of persisting that he has done nothing wrong, despite a steady stream of disclosures to the contrary. Having shredded his credibility as consumer advocate, the insurance commissioner should do the right thing and relinquish his office.

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