Scott Leitz, the interim CEO for MNsure, acknowledged Friday that he is facing a charge of drunken driving stemming from an arrest in Minneapolis in August.
Leitz, 47, of St. Paul, was arrested shortly after 2 a.m. on Aug. 17 near S. Sixth Street and Portland Avenue S. on suspicion of speeding and careless driving, according to Lt. Eric Roeske, a State Patrol spokesman. Leitz’s breath test indicated a blood alcohol level of 0.18 percent — more than double the legal intoxication limit in Minnesota.
The revelation came on a day when Leitz had earlier stood by Mark Dayton’s side as the governor exhorted Minnesotans to sign up for insurance on the MNsure exchange.
Leitz, in an e-mailed statement released Friday evening, said of the incident: “I consider this one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. It is humiliating and, as with any mistake, I will learn from it and will not repeat it.”
Gov. Mark Dayton and MNsure board members expressed support for the work Leitz has done to help Minnesotans find health insurance under the new exchange program.
MNsure Chairman Brian Beutner and Vice Chairman Peter Benner said in a statement that they strongly supported Leitz.
“Since we appointed him in mid-December, MNsure has turned a corner,” Beutner and Benner said in the statement. “Under his leadership the MNsure website has stabilized, the consumer experience has improved and his communication has been open and transparent. We value his leadership as we continue to make progress for Minnesotans.”
MNsure board spokesman Joe Campbell confirmed Friday that board members knew of Leitz’s arrest when they hired him in December.
It was the second time a head of the new MNsure program has had troubles publicized.
In December, MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov stepped down as head of the exchange during a rollout marred by a series of glitches that its officials continue to work on.
Todd-Malmlov and a Human Services official had vacationed together in Costa Rica around Thanksgiving, when the exchange was beset with problems. Dayton later said he found the those problems to be “unacceptable.”
Friday night, Dayton lauded Leitz’s improvements in MNsure.
“My association with Mr. Leitz began, after the MNsure Board hired him as the acting CEO last December,” the governor said in a written statement. “From everything I know, Mr. Leitz has provided MNsure with excellent leadership and has greatly improved its services to the people of Minnesota.”
Leitz was an assistant commissioner of health care at the state Department of Human Services when the MNsure board hired him. He pleaded not guilty to the drunken-driving charge and alleged traffic violations.
If convicted, Leitz could be subject to a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail or both.