North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, a Republican, says he will resign from his elective post Sept. 1 to start a national consulting firm dealing with insurance regulatory issues and compliance.
Poolman sent North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven a resignation letter Tuesday.
“After much thought, I have decided the timing is right for me personally, and especially for my family,” Poolman says in a statement.
Jaime Selzler, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic Party, says he was surprised by the move.
“When North Dakotans re-elected Poolman in the 2004 election, they expected him to serve out his term working for the people of our state,” Selzler says in a statement.
“Assuming this is an entirely voluntary move, it would seem that [Poolman] is placing his own personal interests ahead of the job he committed to on behalf of the people of North Dakota, Selzler says. “It is practically becoming a routine with Republicans in statewide offices to resign their posts just before an election season.”
Poolman told the Bismarck Tribune, “I think people that believe I am trying to do what’s best for my family will understand,” the Tribune reports.
Several North Dakota bloggers speculated that Poolman might be preparing for a possible run against U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.
The owner of another blog claims he has heard from a trustworthy authority that Poolman is definitely leaving to work in the private sector.
North Dakota Deputy Insurance Commissioner Rebecca Ternes is due to serve as acting commissioner when Poolman leaves.
Poolman originally was elected commissioner in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004. Before taking office he worked as a bank trust officer and was elected to 4 consecutive terms to the North Dakota House of Representatives.
Poolman recently has been visible in efforts to update the life settlement model law developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
In July, Kentucky state Rep. Robert Damron, D-Jessamine, Ky., wrote to the NAIC to complain about the approach Poolman had taken in some discussions about investor-owned life insurance. Damron complained that Poolman had defended a certain type of life insurance financing program and had failed to come up with a life settlement model draft that would stop abusive “stranger-owned” life insurance arrangements.
Poolman says in the announcement of his resignation that he will continue to be active in public affairs.
Poolman, who will be basing his consulting firm in Bismarck, N.D., says he is leaving because he now has a chance to work in the private sector in North Dakota.
“This opportunity is just one I couldn’t refuse,” Poolman says. “I have been presented opportunities in the past, but they required me to leave North Dakota, and this wasn’t an option for me or my family. Running my own consulting company allows me to stay in North Dakota and better provide for my family.”