AUSTIN—Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman has told her staff May 27 will be her final day, according to sources in Texas.
This month it had become increasingly clear the commissioner appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 would not receive a confirmation nod from the state Senate as required by the Texas Constitution.
A nomination never made it on the agenda of the Senate Nominations Committee this session. Senators PC360 spoke to in Austin said she did not have the votes to receive confirmation.
There is no word on Kitzman’s replacement, either on a permanent or interim basis.
During an interview with PC360 on May 21 in Austin, the commissioner says she hadn’t “thought about leaving her post,” but was instead “focused on doing my job for as long as I have this job.”
Kitzman referenced the people of the small, farming community of West, Texas—site of the massive fertilizer explosion last month—to explain her philosophy.
“I spent a lot of time [in West],” she said. “Farmers maybe have a different view of the world. Life goes on. There is a still a job to do, no matter what.”
At the time of the interview, it appeared unlikely Kitzman would receive confirmation, but some time remained for an 11th-hour development.
Still, the commissioner acknowledged her uncertain job future by saying: “This is what I do, not who I am. I’ve had a job before this one and I’ll have another one after it.”
Kitzman, who was director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance before coming to Texas, has also worked in the private insurance and reinsurance industries.
Kitzman is not the only one leaving the Texas Department of Insurance. Additionally, Danny Seanz, deputy commissioner of the financial regulation division, and Audrey Seldon, deputy commissioner of the compliance division, are retiring later this year.
Senate Nominations Committee Chairman Glenn Hegar Jr., R-Katy, told PC360 in Austin that he had listened to "adamant" senators for and against Kitzman, who took over for Mike Geeslin after he left the post midterm.
Without going into specifics, Hegar says those against Kitzman are upset with the "way [Kitzman has] handled some issues." Lawmakers have previously spoken about the commissioner's tendency to approve homeowners' rate hikes without much scrutiny.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who is on the Senate Nominations Committee, flatly told PC360. "I'm not for her."
Whomever Perry appoints as Kitzman’s successor will not face confirmation until the next legislative session. Texas lawmakers meet every other year.