Is Hawaii's Insurance Commissioner Protected From Political Influence?

Hawaii's only F in the State Integrity Investigation came for its state insurance commissioner, who oversees the insurance industry.

In two categories — protection from political interference and firings without justification — Hawaii strikes out completely, getting a 0 percent score.

Hawaii got a 57 percent overall mark for in the State Insurance Commissions category. That put us in 37th place, tied with North Dakota. Mississippi came in first. At the bottom was Wyoming.

Hawaii scored so poorly largely because the state insurance commissioner isn't protected from political interference and can be removed from the job at any time. The commissioner serves at the will of the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, who is appointed by the governor.

Overall, the State Integrity Investigation ranked Hawaii 10th after Civil Beat reporters researched 330 “Corruption Risk Indicators” across 14 categories of government. (Click here to learn more about the methodology used for the project.)

Bottom line: Instead of an independent state commissioner protected from political interference, Hawaii's law creates the opposite. The commissioner is a political appointee who can be fired at any time.

Here's the basis for the 31-percent grade that contributed to the overall 57 percent score in the State Insurance Commissions category. It's your turn to evaluate whether Civil Beat got it right and to share what you think should be done to improve the situation. Share your comments at the bottom of this story.

Here's the first question the State Integrity Investigation asked regarding state insurance commissions.

Is the state insurance commission protected from political and special interest influence?

Overall score: 31%

Here are the criteria Civil Beat used to answer that question and what Civil Beat found.

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