ATLANTA - The man picked by Governor Brian Kemp to clean up the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner is new to the insurance industry, but battle-tested on many levels of law enforcement.
John King becomes the first Hispanic constitutional statewide officer in Georgia History.
"The key now is to repair the damage that has been done," said Insurance Commissioner John King.
King, a former policeman and current soldier, is now faced with turning around the state Insurance Office that was rocked by a political scandal.
"Putting a new culture of thinking of service, of ethics, morals on an approach to serving Georgia's consumers," said King.
Born in Mexico, King moved to America and became an Atlanta police beat cop. He was later hired to be chief of the Doraville police department. Also, a Major General in the Georgia national guard, King has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A unique, worldwide background for the man appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to be Georgia’s new Insurance Commissioner.
"I don't come from the Insurance background. It allowed me to do a really critical look at every function of our agency, to really see, is it really needed does it add value to Georgia consumers or do we need to do away with it," said King.
King's swearing-in Friday followed former Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck beginning a 7-year, 3-month sentence in federal prison. A jury convicted Beck of using friends and family to mastermind a scheme to steal more than $2.5 million from a state-chartered insurer he ran before he was commissioner.
"I feel bad for his family. We are a nation where you are accountable. This is a prime example of accountability," said King.
The FBI investigation of Beck followed numerous I-Team reports of Beck back in 2018. One involved Beck having two jobs at the same time while working for the state. One report involved Beck having a second job while working for a local Georgia district attorney.
(How can you work both at the same time?) "It's just important to have the availability of insurance," Beck told us at the time.
We even investigated an arson of a rental property Beck owned. The I-Team obtained documents that showed Beck had nearly doubled his insurance coverage some two weeks before the arson. The arson was never solved, Beck told us he had no idea who did it.
"It was kind of a weird situation because it was insured by a company I worked for," Beck told us.
King has run the department since Governor Kemp suspended Beck in 2019 after a grand jury indicted him on theft charges. King didn't officially take over until last week when Beck began his prison sentence. He said it was a tough job changing a statewide agency from the ground up.
"And reorganize an agency to its core. It was tough. We let a lot of people go. They had no business working for Georgians," said King.
King is also putting on his political hat, running as a Republican to be the duly elected Insurance commissioner next fall. A long walk from his days as a beat cop.
"As a former Atlanta policeman, walking the streets of Auburn avenue, working at East Lake Meadows. I'm an eternal optimist and I always think tomorrow is going to be a better day so, I'm excited about that," King said.
King already has two Democratic opponents. Sate Rep. Matthew Wilson and Janice Laws Robinson have both said they plan to run for Insurance Commissioner.