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Pinnacol Struggles to Keep 'Embarrassing' Records Secret

Colorado's largest workers' compensation insurer struggles to regain credibility in the face of an array of scandals. Pinnacol recently filed an appeal of a court order to turn over receipts and other records from a trip to lavish Pebble Beach resort for a group of employees.

KMGH-TV in Denver reports that Pinnacol argues in its appeal of Denver District Judge Morris Hoffman's ruling that the records should be kept private because they're not subject to the Colorado Open Records Act.

In August, Hoffman ruled that Pinnacol is a public entity and that the records of the trip to the world-renowned golf course and resort should be available to the public.

"It's just that the information is embarrassing," Hoffman said of Pinnacol's desire to keep the records secret.

In May, the TV station's reporters followed Pinnacol board members to the extravagant California resort, where board members enjoyed costly hotel rooms, meals, drinks and green fees at almost $500 per round.

Pinnacol is a "political subdivision of the state," supplying workers' compensation insurance to more than 1.5 million employees and 55,000 Colorado businesses. Pinnacol has more than 57 percent of the workers' compensation insurance market.

Pinnacol board members are all appointed by Colorado's governor.

In late September, the Denver Business Journal reported that Pinnacol issued a ban on board members traveling at company expense for anything but training.

Workers' compensation industry observers have been especially critical of the company following the June release of a sharply worded Legislative Audit Committee report on the insurer's excessive employee bonuses (totaling $1.9 million from 2007 to 2009) and travel expenses that were "bordering on abuse."

Though there have been several attempts by lawmakers to rein in the company, lobbyists and insurer-friendly legislators have so far managed to beat back the attempts to tighten regulations.

Consumer advocates say Pinnacol's enormous revenues are better spent on the compensation necessary for injured or ill Colorado employees.

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