Politics

Mike Pieciak, financial regulation chief and key figure in Vermont’s Covid response, to resign

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Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, is stepping down. File photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Mike Pieciak is stepping down.

Gov. Phil Scott announced on Wednesday afternoon that Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, will depart next month “to pursue other opportunities.”

Pieciak joined the department in 2014, as deputy commissioner in the securities division under then-Gov. Peter Shumlin. He was appointed commissioner in July 2016, then reappointed in January 2017 under Gov. Phil Scott. 

“Mike has been a valuable member of my Cabinet,” Scott said in a press release Wednesday. “He’s been a highly effective manager, a strong advocate for consumers and the economic revitalization of our state, and stepped up to serve on my COVID response leadership team … I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Pieciak played a prominent role in the governor’s regular press conferences during the pandemic, typically appearing once a week. He presented figures on Covid-19 case counts, hospitalizations and other trends related to the public health crisis. He only recently moved back to focusing primarily on financial regulation.

“It has been an honor to work alongside the talented team at DFR and the Governor’s Cabinet over the past eight years,” Pieciak said in the release. “I am proud of what we accomplished to ensure the fair treatment of Vermonters in their financial dealings, and, when necessary, right wrongs on behalf of consumers.”

While leading the Department of Financial Regulation, Pieciak helped the state recoup $13 million from businesses and individuals found to have wronged the state, according to the release. More recently, he’s helped regulate the cryptocurrency industry, leading an investigation into the company BlockFi, which resulted in a $100 million federal settlement. 

During the pandemic, Pieciak and the Department of Financial Regulation “required health insurers to cover the cost of testing and treatment for COVID-19 and directed premium relief of over $25 million back to Vermonters,” according to the release.  

During his time in the Shumlin administration, Pieciak played a leading role in the state’s oversight and eventual investigation of a series of fraudulent economic development projects at Jay Peak Resort and elsewhere in the Northeast Kingdom, funded through the federal EB-5 investor visa program.

In a recent Seven Days profile, Pieciak hinted that he’d consider a future run for elected office, calling it an “appealing” opportunity, but said he had no immediate plans. In 2012, he managed then-Attorney General Bill Sorrell’s successful reelection campaign. 

Pieciak did not immediately respond to a call for comment. 

According to Scott’s office, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Gaffney will serve as interim commissioner of the department after Pieciak steps away on May 16.

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Ethan Weinstein

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