More than 100 of Pinnacol's employees have learned to cook at Mise en Place, at a cost of more than $10,000, in the last year.
Another private class led by a chef is planned for Pinnacol employees next week at Mise en Place in Denver, according to the school's website.
That's left a bad taste in some lawmaker's mouths.
"This is like the icing on the cake," Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) said. "If it's your personal time and your personal money, all of us would think it would be fun to learn how to cook, but that is poor judgment for a quasi-governmental entity. Businesses are having to be frugal, families are having to be frugal, Pinnacol is not an exception. They too need to be frugal."
Carroll, along with Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) are calling for Pinnacol Chief Executive Ken Ross and three board members to resign after an expensive golf and wine trip to Pebble Beach last year.
"Pinnacol is supposed to be making good use of policyholder money from the employers who are working hard to pay premiums to get injured workers medical care and to get them back to work," Carroll said.
Many of Colorado's businesses pay into the state's workers' compensation fund which is managed by Pinnacol. Pinnacol's board is appointed by the governor.
In response to the criticism about the culinary school expenses, Pinnacol spokeswoman Suzi Stolte called the cooking lessons a team building event.
"Pinnacol does support team building. Our Travel and Reimbursement Policy has specific guidelines about the average amount per person that can be spent annually. The types of events we do include everything from potlucks to volunteer events at local nonprofits," Stolte wrote in an e-mail to 9Wants to Know.
On Thursday, 9Wants to Know reported that Pinnacol spent more than $318,000 to send its leaders to a golf junket at Pebble Beach in California. The money paid for golfing fees, luxurious meals, and a lot of alcohol during a trip in May of last year.
After learning about the news, Gov. Bill Ritter told 9Wants to Know it was "extremely poor judgment" and taxpayers "deserve better."
Costs for the golf trip included $15,000 in airfare, $39,659 in golf and spa services, $131,000 in room charges, recreation and room charges for the delegates, $46,259 for restaurants and lounges and $35,800 in retail, transportation and miscellaneous charges and $8,091 in tours and dining charges.
At Casanova restaurant on May 14 alone, guests spent $1,795 on bottles of wine, filet mignon and Jack Daniels. At one airport lounge, the travelers spent $431 just on drinks, including vodka, rum, Baileys, Bud Light and Crown Royal.
Pinnacol spent $325 on pink golf balls for the lady golfers. The golfers paid $260 in green fees. When four golfers were no-shows at tee-time, Pinnacol paid $1,040 in penalties.
Pinnacol is the state's largest workers' compensation insurer with 55,000 policyholders and is considered the state's carrier of last resort.
According to its website, policyholders have shared $394 million worth of general dividends six years in a row. Since Pinnacol is a quasi-public entity, it gets tax breaks that other carriers are not afforded.
If you have any news tips, please e-mail Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman at Deborah.Sherman@9NEWS.com.
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