Department of Commerce Commissioner Steps Down

Mike Rothman Photo: KSTP
Mike Rothman

November 17, 2017 01:02 PM

The state's top insurance regulator is stepping down from the job.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced Friday that Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman would step down immediately after more than six years on the job. He'll be replaced by Jessica Looman, who has served as a deputy commissioner with the Department of Labor and Industry since 2014.

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The news comes as the Office of the Legislative Auditor confirmed it had been asked to investigate actions taken by various DOC officials in connection to an investigation into an auto glass company a federal judge ruled was 'unjustified.'

RELATED: Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Dodges Questions Over Judge's Opinion

"As you may know, the case has involved considerable litigation that continues in process," legislative auditor James Nobles wrote in an email to KSTP. "The case is very complex, and we are reviewing all of the documents related to the legal proceedings at both the state and federal levels.

"In sum, we are at a preliminary stage, and our review will undoubtedly take us into next year. So, yes, we are investigating what happened in the Commerce/Safelight case."

In that case, federal judge Susan Nelson ruled the DOC carried out an "unjustified" investigation into Safelite Auto Glass for its billing practices with insurance companies.

RELATED: 2 Minnesota Lawmakers Want Top State Commerce Official Fired

Nelson also said the DOC "initiated a baseless investigation against Safelite based on financially-motivated complaints from competitors." Further, Nelson said there was testimony from a DOC employees stating "an assistant commissioner made a 'deal' to provide information on Safelite in order to 'get Safelite out of Minnesota.'" 

In his email, Nobles said he could not comment further on the matter at this stage.

Rothman had been the state's Commerce commissioner since Dayton became governor in 2011. His department helped set insurance rates for the individual market, facing sharp criticism as premiums skyrocketed in recent years.

He was also criticized by Republicans in 2014 for failing to crack down on a Minneapolis nonprofit whose executive was found to have misspent more than $1 million in public funds.

Rothman is expected to launch a bid for Attorney General.

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Associated Press/KSTP

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