Kemp Appoints New Acting Insurance Commissioner, Replacing Indicted Jim Beck

Updated Thursday at 3:50 p.m.

Gov. Brian Kemp has named a new acting insurance commissioner: John King, chief of Doraville police is filling the shoes of Jim Beck, who was indicted last month for embezzling more than $2 million from a former employer, the Georgia Underwriting Association. 

Beck was indicted by a federal grand jury on 38 charges of money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud. A few days later he suspended himself, though he maintains his innocence.

In his absence, Kemp has appointed Doraville Chief of Police John King. King has had a career in the military and law enforcement raising questions about his qualifications for the position, which Kemp addressed.

“When people really look at what the insurance commissioner’s office does, it’s a regulatory authority, they do a lot of investigations on the insurance side and the fire safety side,” Kemp said. “That’s what John King’s been doing for a very long time. On the licensing side, for somebody that’s served in the executive branch, you need somebody who can run a government agency. And that’s what John King’s been doing.”

King joined the Atlanta Police Department more than three decades ago and the Doraville department in 1993. He became police chief there in 2002. King is also a Brigadier General in the Army National Guard. He said in a statement he looks forward to “restoring trust in the Department of Insurance,” and said his experience has prepared him for the new job.

A native of Mexico, King is the first Hispanic constitutional officer in Georgia history.

Georgia has the fastest growing Latino population in the country, now at about 10 percent.

Jerry Gonzalez is executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO). He called the appointment a “significant and noteworthy” step towards more representative leadership in Georgia.

“As the state continues to grow and diversify, I think we’re going to see more and more representation of the African American community, Asian American community and Latino community in various roles.”

He says King has done an “exemplary” job at the Doraville Police Department, especially with the Hispanic community.

“Being able to communicate with people in their own language is key, but also understanding their history and their life perspective is something that Chief King certainly brought to the table,” he said.

Gonzalez said he’s confident King’s skills and “unquestionable ethics” will transfer to the insurance department.

Kemp said the department’s employees have “soldiered on” despite the recent indictment. However, he said, he expects King to take whatever steps needed “to restore confidence. And I’ll let him decide on what that will be.”

He added he hopes King will consider running for re-election in 2022, but that he didn’t want to “get the cart before the horse” on the topic since Beck is presumed innocent until proven guilty.