Governor Scott expands investigation into Citizens Property Insurance

Last month, Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida, Sean Shaw, the founder of Policyholders of Florida, and New Port Richey House Republican Mike Fasano called on Scott to expand the Inspector General's original scope. That happened right after Barry Gilway, the President of Citizens, had terminated every employee within the Office of Corporate Integrity.

Before the Office of Corporate Integrity staffers were fired, they had learned that Citizens had :

Gave large severance packages to some top employees accused of misconduct, including more than $80,000 to an underwriting executive who resigned after being accused of "inappropriate behavior" with another employee.

Gave only a warning to its deputy director of human resources after she got drunk at the Coyote Ugly bar in Tampa, removed her bra and danced on top of a table during a company retreat.

Failed to complete certain investigations or did not file them into the official complaint system, potentially shielding them from public view. Certain employees were shown favoritism after they were discovered breaking company policy.

In a press release, Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida said "We applaud Governor Scott for expanding the scope of his inspector general's investigation of Citizens. Citizens President Barry Gilway did the right thing in formally requesting this review. We look forward to the inspector general's report to ensure accountability for the actions that resulted in firings of four internal government watchdogs."

Sean Shaw with Policyholders of Florida said upon learning of Scott's move that "This is great news, exactly what we wanted and what policyholders deserve. Without watchdogs on the inside, safe from retribution, it's impossible for consumers and consumer advocates to know exactly what is happening inside the people's insurer of last resort."

The Times/Herald reports that the Office of Corporate Integrity was called in originally to investigate back in March after an unnamed tipster reported that Citizens had mishandled internal investigations, spent funds on improper severance agreements and shown favoritism to certain employees engaged in misconduct.

Days after Toulouse Olorunnipa with the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald reported that "the corporate watchdogs who were recently fired from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. had uncovered evidence of favoritism, improper compensation and poorly handled investigations at the highest levels of the state-run company," Governor Rick Scott today announced that he was calling on Chief Inspector General, Melinda Miguel, to expand the scope of an investigation she was already conducting into Citizens - and to look specifically at why those watchdogs were canned.

Scott writes:

The people of Florida are entitled to accountability and transparency within every aspect of our government. Accountability and transparency require an adequate number of independent, highly trained professionals. My administration will not tolerate any action taken to undermine these safeguards. Your report will allow me to assess whether the taxpayer resources that support Citizens are properly protected and whether corrective action is needed to enhance compliance at Citizens.

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