Pinnacol CEO Talks One-On-One With Tony Kovaleski

Ken Ross: I've Made Mistakes, I've Apologized, I'm Ready To Move On

Pinnacol Assurance CEO Ken Ross said he's learned a lot since the now infamous confrontation in Pebble Beach 13 months ago and he is ready to close that chapter and move on.

"It makes sense to give you an opportunity to ask some questions about Pebble Beach and respond to any lingering concerns that people still may have about that," said Ross in an exclusive interview with CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski.

In May 2010, Ross, a number of Pinnacol agents and several members of the state-appointed board charged with oversight of Pinnacol were videotaped by 7NEWS enjoying a trip to the California resort. The trip was labeled an incentive event for Pinnacol agents and is not an uncommon practice.

But questions surrounded why three members of the Pinnacol board and their spouses were also on the $318,000 trip.

Pinnacol is defined as a political subdivision of the state and, as such, enjoys a number of tax breaks as well as access for employees to the state's generous retirement plan.

"Is the state of Colorado being served by this trip when your board members are here at a thousand dollars for a husband and wife to play golf?" asked Kovaleski in May 2010.

At the time, Ross threatened to break Kovaleski's finger.

"I misbehaved and said things I shouldn't have. I made mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I regret those mistakes and I have learned from those mistakes," said Ross.

The Pinnacol CEO answered all of Kovaleski's questions, unconditionally.

"When you watched [the video from Pebble Beach] the first time, what was that like?" asked Kovaleski.

"Painful," said Ross.

His actions at Pebble Beach personally cost the CEO a $164,000 bonus and forced lawmakers in Colorado to push for significant changes in Pinnacol's policies and procedures including prohibiting board members from taking trips.

"[The board] made that decision that I ought not get my bonus for that year based on the behavior I exhibited," said Ross. "It was a lot of money and I accepted that and I respect that decision."

Ross explained that the scrutiny of Pinnacol over the last two years will help the company get better going forward.

He explained that he has embraced the significant wave of change that followed the trip to Pebble Beach.

Board members have told Kovaleski that Ross has run Pinnacol Assurance exceptionally well and that he has the confidence of the board, of which there are three new members.

Board chairman Blair Richardson told Kovaleski that Ross made a mistake in Pebble Beach and that Ross has taken full responsibility.

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