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Fresh crop of executives named to lead state insurance departments


As both new and re-elected governors take office, many are taking steps to change appointments to the post of top insurance regulator in their respective states.

The latest changes—both interim and final—were announced for Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, tapped Marcy Morrison, 71, the second-term mayor of Manitou Springs, Colo., as insurance commissioner to succeed David Rivera. Ms. Morrison, a Republican, served as El Paso County Commissioner from 1984 to 1992 and was a representative to the Colorado House from 1992 to 2000.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell accepted the resignation of Commissioner Susan Cogswell and then named her to a deputy commissioner post in the insurance department. Ms. Cogswell will focus on health care access and affordability issues. The governor has not yet named a commissioner.

Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter appointed W.W. Deal director of the state's Department of Insurance. He succeeds Gary Smith.

Mr. Deal, who has served eight terms in the Idaho House of Representatives, stepped down from his current seat to take the post. Before his appointment, Mr. Deal and his wife owned and operated the W.W. Deal Insurance Agency in Nampa, Idaho. He said he has resigned from the agency, is selling it and has placed his holdings in trust.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt chose Doug Ommen as director of the state's Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration to replace Dale Finke. Mr. Ommen is the current deputy director and general counsel for the department.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer named Louis W. Pietroluongo, the former first deputy, as acting superintendent of the state's insurance department. He will serve in that post until Mr. Spitzer's permanent nominee, Eric Dinallo joins the department, which is expected to occur within the next three weeks, a department spokesman said.

Ohio Governor-elect Ted Strickland named Mary Jo Hudson as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, succeeding Ann Womer Benjamin. Ms. Hudson, a former department attorney and liquidator, currently works at the Columbus, Ohio-based firm of Bailey Cavalieri L.L.C. She also is a member of the Columbus City Council. From 1989 to 1996, she worked for the department as a deputy liquidator, liquidation counsel and a special services attorney.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas appointed Paulette Thabault commissioner of the state's Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, effective Jan. 22. Ms. Thabault served as the department's deputy commissioner for health care administration from 2003 through 2005. She succeeds John Crowley, who is retiring.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle appointed Sean Dilweg as commissioner of insurance to succeed Jorge Gomez. Mr. Dilweg previously was an executive assistant at the department of administration as an adviser on legislative and policy matters. He also served in several legislative staff positions.

NAIC salaries

In a related development, salaries for the five highest-paid executives of the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners ranged from $186,250 to $350,000 in 2006.

Catherine J. Weatherford was paid $350,000 last year—up 5.6% from 2005—for serving as executive vp and chief executive officer of the Kansas City, Mo.-based organization.

Chris Evangel, managing director of the NAIC's New York-based Securities Valuation Office, was paid $286,026, up 3.3%.

Andy Beal, who now holds the joint title of deputy executive vp and chief legal officer, was paid $250,000 last year, up 24% from 2005 when he served as general counsel.

Washington-based Brett Palmer, the NAIC's director of government relations, was paid $234,000, up 3.9%.

Bob Carcano, the NAIC's senior counsel for the SVO, was paid $186,250 in 2006. His salary was not reported in 2005.