Pratt Williams, A Professional Law Corporation
Most of California’s major newspapers have covered the controversy surrounding former DIR head Christine Baker and the report of the California State Auditor which I outlined in my last post (see some links to the newspaper coverage below).
According to a LA Times report, Governor Newsom’s office and new Insurance Commissioner Ricard0 Lara are not happy.
The LA Times indicated that “A Newsom spokesman declined Friday to say whether he would take action against Baker, but questioned her remaining on the Fraud Assessment Commission.”.
Further, the LA Times noted that:
“Although the fraud panel is appointed by the governor, it operates in the office of state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who also voiced concerns through a spokesman about Baker staying in her post.
“While the commissioner does not make appointments to the Fraud Assessment Commission, given the seriousness of these allegations he has severe reservations about Ms. Baker’s capacity to continue service,” said Byron Tucker, a spokesman for Lara.”
How all of this is perceived by the political establishment and the Governor’s people may determine whether Baker is asked to leave the Fraud Assessment Commission.
And at the same time these issues are in play as a former DIR investigator, Socorro Tongco, has a pending State Personnel Board action and a wrongful termination lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court.
Frankly, some parts of the story would make good material for a novel.
Baker is pushing back with her side of the story. Readers can see it by clicking on the links at the bottom of this post. Several people have suggested to me that Baker is “playing to her base” in putting her statements on the record. Clearly she does not want to go lightly.
What I do find particularly interesting (putting aside the question of whether her her daughter’s performance has been mischaracterized, and that there was a cabal that wanted to take her down) is the allegation Baker seems to be making that she was a target because of her role as a workers’ comp reformer.
Nothing I have yet seen puts together anything credible on the point.
This blogger has no personal relationship or knowledge of the individuals at DIR who seem to have been involved in the events discussed by the State Auditor.
But if Baker is alleging that the auditor’s report is all “fake news” and some sort of grand conspiracy to take her down because of her involvement in various workers’ comp reforms, I think she owes the workers’ comp community more evidence and more explanation.
I have worked against Baker on some issues and with her on others (including being asked to participate in some of the meetings the led to the anti-fraud reforms). She is obviously a very capable individual and as I noted in my last blog, receives much gratitude from some in the employer and insurer community who like the results of the 2012 reforms.
I think it only fair to publish her side of the story (see below).
But that can only take you so far.
If there was a grand conspiracy to take her down, where’s the beef?
Here is the Los Angeles Times article on the response to the allegations, titled “Gov. Newsom and others question continued state post for ex-administrator accused of nepotism”:
The San Francisco Chronicle coverage written by business columnist Kathleen Pender can be seen here:
The article in the Workers’ Comp Executive can be seen here:
Here is the letter sent by Baker (“Christine Culbeaux”) to some of her supporters:
And here is what Baker provided to the Workers’ Comp Executive: