David Regan, a candidate for Vancouver City Council Position 5 and the owner of a local bail bonds business, was ordered Wednesday by the Washington insurance commissioner to cease and desist from what his office describes as illegal business activity.
In an investigation into Regan Bail Bonds Inc., Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler found the company has been acting as a surety insurer without the proper credentials. According to a press release from Kreidler’s office, the company had posted at least 325 bail bonds totalling $3.7 million in liabilities and collected $294,570 in premiums since the start of 2018.
“State law requires insurers to prove they are financially solvent and file their premium rates with the insurance commissioner, among other requirements,” the press release states. “Regan Bail Bonds allowed six insurance producers to sell the bonds, one of whom is not licensed to sell insurance. Regan and four of his employees declined to meet with Kreidler’s investigators to discuss the illegal business practices.”
A complaint filed with the insurance commissioner’s office started the investigation, the press release said.
When asked about the cease-and-desist letter Thursday morning, Regan scoffed aloud.
“Oh yeah. That thing,” he said, adding that it’s not a big deal.
The finding came from a conflict between the dual regulatory powers of the insurance commissioner’s office and state Department of Licensing, which both have jurisdiction over the bail bonds industry, Regan said. That’s in addition to the jurisdiction of the county’s Superior Court, he added.
“A Superior Court judge and prosecutor have all vetted us,” Regan said. “(There are) a lot of hoops and jumps, and there’s a lot of filters that they put you through. My question to the department of insurance is, are you challenging Superior Court judges and the Department of Licensing?”
RCW 18.185 governs how bail bondsman operate in Washington. Regan said he’s not in violation of state law and planned to formally contest the cease-and-desist letter Thursday.
In the meantime, he said, Regan Bail Bonds Inc., located in downtown Vancouver, is open and operating, albeit limited.
“I can still do business. I just can’t post my company’s bonds for the moment,” Regan said. “I stopped posting those bonds and started posting the corporate insurance bonds.”
Regan said the complaint was filed by the owner of a competing bail bonds company.
“This is politically driven and motivated. He knows I’m running for city council; he can’t stand it,” Regan said.
A media representative for the insurance commissioner’s office confirmed the complaint was filed by a Thomas Loos.
Loos owns A+ Bail Bonds also located in downtown Vancouver. He told The Columbian on Thursday that a Clark County Superior Court clerk noticed the illegal bonds and brought them to the attention of the Washington State Bail Bonds Association, who told Loos.
“It really didn’t come through me. It came through the clerk’s office and the president of the association,” Loos said. “The reason I made the complaint is because nobody else did.”
Downplaying the gravity of the offenses doesn’t make Regan’s actions any less illegal, he said.
“You have to go through a process, and anybody that’s a bail bondsman in Vancouver — and several other jurisdictions — you have to be backed by an insurance company,” he said. “It’s unfair to everybody else who’s doing it legally and paying premiums to an insurance company.”
Loos also disputed the implication that filing the complaint was part of some political hit job.
“It wasn’t politically motivated. I don’t care if the guy runs for city council,” Loos said.
In March, Regan announced he was running for Vancouver City Council. He’s the only challenger running against the incumbent, Ty Stober. The pair won’t appear on Tuesday’s primary ballot — two-way, nonpartisan races go straight to the November general election.
In a media release first announcing his candidacy, Regan touted his “vast experience working with local and federal law enforcement agencies in the courts and criminal justice fields.”
Regan said Thursday the finding from the insurance commissioner’s office won’t impact his campaign.
“I think it’s going to strengthen it,” Regan said. “I’m running for city council to protect the citizens and taxpayers against these issues. … This is such a waste of taxpayer dollars.”