A member of the board of directors for Idaho's government-run health insurance exchange is calling for the exchange's executive director to be dismissed.
"In my opinion, Amy Dowd needs to go," said Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell.
The call for Dowd's dismissal comes amid the controversy that erupted last week following Dowd’s disclosure that former board member Frank Chan had stepped down from the board, and that she had offered a $375,000 contract to Chan and his company for online website services.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Rice condemned Dowd's awarding of the contract to a former board member stating "the negotiation of contracts prior to the resignation—Idahoans just don’t view that as acceptable, it's just not." Additionally, as some board members expressed a desire for the exchange continuing to do business with Chan despite the fact that his contract was being cancelled, Rice stated "we can't work with him going forward."
Tom Shores, an exchange board member, believes Rice’s declaration to remove Dowd might in part be due to pressure from his Republican Senate caucus. "I work closely with Sen. Rice and I think he's a great guy," Shores said. "I think he's smart and I have tremendous respect for him. I am also aware that he's getting pressured by his caucus, that is, by other legislators, to demand Amy's resignation."
Shores, however, also acknowledged that the board of directors is, at present, "severely divided" on its stance toward Dowd.
During the Tuesday board meeting, as board members were in a behind-closed-doors executive session, Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, suggested to IdahoReporter.com that terminating Dowd was likely being discussed by the board members, and also said of Rice, "I'm sure he'll represent the Senate well."
Noting that the board of directors concluded Tuesday’s meeting by calling for an outside investigation of no-bid contract incident, Shores told IdahoReporter.com Wednesday that "I'd prefer to wait and see what the outcome of the investigation is. I don't doubt that some things happened stupidly, and that Amy made a mistake. But we all make mistakes. Based on what I've seen and on what I know, thus far, I do not believe that she needs to be dismissed."
Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, also a board member, agreed with Shores in that she wants to wait for the investigation findings before making a decision about Dowd. "I believe we have a duty to see what the investigation produces. Then we can take those findings and then, as a board, decide what we want to do with them."
Dowd did not return a message seeking comment on Rice’s call for her dismissal.
Prior to Wednesday afternoon when Rice called for Dowd's dismissal, he made some of his feelings known in a radio interview. The full audio of the Rice interview can be heard HERE.