Fired Blue Shield of California exec faces scrutiny for lavish spending
Blue Shield of California's former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Aaron Kaufman remains on the hot seat after details emerged last week that he spent more than $100,000 on his corporate credit card, reported the Los Angeles Times. Kaufman was fired in March for alleged violations of Blue Shield's travel and expense policies.
Most of Kaufman's gaudy spending went toward trips with his girlfriend, actress Tara Reid. These trips include a $17,491 Florida vacation. Blue Shield learned of the expenses after an employee bowling event in early January, when Reid allegedly acted inappropriately and embarrassed employees. Kaufman charged $879.84 to his Blue Shield credit card for the bowling party, according to the Times.
Blue Shield noted that more than 75 percent of Kaufman's credit card charges were excessive and not business-related.
This is not the first time Kaufman misused his corporate card. Blue Shield reprimanded him last spring for improper use of his credit card, claiming that Kaufman was "repeatedly using his corporate card to pay for personal expenditures amounting to potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars," noted the Times.
When confronted about his spending, Kaufman told Blue Shield he and his wife were going through a divorce and she had "locked up" his personal bank accounts and credit cards, the Times said.
The legal saga began earlier this month when the former CTO filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the insurer, saying he was fired one day before he was due to receive a $450,000 bonus, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Kaufman alleged that he was fired for criticizing a contract that Blue Shield CIO Michael Mathias signed for a data integration project. Kaufman's suit alleged that the former CTO proposed an alternative that would have saved the insurer at least $3 million but that Mathias repeatedly rebuffed him, eventually telling Kaufman to "never raise this ... issue again."
Blue Shield's spending has been under the spotlight. The insurer lost its tax-exempt status in California last month amid criticism that it behaves like a for-profit insurers. The company posted $13.6 billion in revenue in 2014 and holds more than $4 billion in its reserves. Currently, the insurer is protesting the state's decision, reported the Times.
- here's the LA Times piece
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