Chuck Quackenbush

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During his last hours as Insurance Commissioner, Quackenbush is questioned by reporters at the California State Capitol

Charles "Chuck" Quackenbush (born 1954) is a Florida law enforcement officer and former California Republican politician. He served as Insurance Commissioner of California from 1995–2000 and as a California State Assemblyman representing the 22nd District, from 1986–1994.

Background and political career[edit]

As a child, he grew up in a military family and after graduating University of Notre Dame on a full ROTC scholarship, he joined the United States Army and rose to the rank of Captain as a helicopter pilot. In 1982, he left the military to join the family business in Silicon Valley. He was elected as a Republican to the California Assembly in 1986.

In 1994 he was elected insurance commissioner, effectively applying considerable campaign contributions from various insurance companies[1][2] and won re-election in 1998. At this point, Quackenbush was considered the most promising Republican elected official in the state of California.

Resignation[edit]

Note: For a timeline of the events associated with this section see[3]

In early 2000, Cindy Ossias, then a senior lawyer for the California Department of Insurance (CDI), charged the Department with corruption. According to testimony by CDI employees, including Ossias and staff attorney Robert Hagedorn, Commissioner Quackenbush and his top aides abused their positions for personal gain and acted against consumers’ interests for many years.

After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it was alleged that Quackenbush allowed insurance companies to compensate their clients much less than the actual damages. In exchange, the insurance companies set up special "educational funds". Those funds were used to create television commercials in which Quackenbush appeared as a basketball referee with Shaquille O'Neal in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. While couched as public service announcements, suspicions rose that main idea behind the commercials was to increase Quackenbush's name identification, which is critical for electoral success in California statewide races.

In addition to the educational funds, those same insurance companies contributed to his wife's unsuccessful 1998 assembly campaign, as well as his children's football camps.

Initially, Cindy Ossias blew the whistle as an anonymous source. When her identity was revealed, Quackenbush put her on an administrative leave for violation of attorney client privilege.

On June 28, 2000, he announced his resignation (to become effective on July 10).

In February 2002, an 18-month investigation conducted by federal, state and Sacramento County prosecutors ended with prosecutors declining to press charges against Quackenbush, as they felt the evidence was not strong enough.[4]

Life after insurance commissioner[edit]

After resigning as California's insurance commissioner, Quackenbush moved to Hawaii, where he was "doing political and military intelligence consulting". In 2005, Quackenbush became a sheriff's deputy in Lee County, Florida.[5] [6] While working as a sheriff's deputy in February 2008, Quackenbush shot and critically wounded a suspect who was reported as resisting arrest.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Article: Insurers contribute heavily to Quackenbush's campaign... (at HighBeamResearch, original Article from National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management, requires registration for free read of complete article)
  2. ^ Quackenbush settles campaign violations (California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush faces $50,000 fine for incomplete reports) National Underwriter Life & Health-Financial ServicesEdition, April 7, 1997, Howard, J.C (at www.encyclopedia.com)
  3. ^ The Downfall of California's Insurance Commissioner (Insurance Journal)
  4. ^ Former Calif. Insurance Commissioner Won't Face Federal Charges (Insurance Journal West)
  5. ^ Johnson, Ed (January 2, 2007). "From politics to night patrol". Fort Myers News-Press. 
  6. ^ Bauder, Don (August 31, 2006). "From $132,000 to $33,000 Per Year". San Diego Reader. 
  7. ^ Kim, Victoria (March 1, 2008). "Ex-insurance commissioner shoots suspect - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Ernie Konnyu
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 22nd district

1986-1992
Succeeded by
John Vasconcellos
Political offices
Preceded by
John Garamendi
California Insurance Commissioner
1995–2000
Succeeded by
J. Clark Kelso