CFO Jeff Atwater attacks Gov. Scott's legal logic on McCarty's resignation
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Wednesday disputed Gov. Rick Scott's contention that insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty would have to be "reappointed" to delay his scheduled departure date of May 2.
Atwater provided a legal opinion from his general counsel, M. Drew Parker, that flatly contradicted the legal conclusions reached by Scott's counsel, William Spicola.
This clash adds to the tension between Scott and Atwater over how to replace McCarty in the post of insurance regulator, and it places McCarty squarely into a simmering dispute between the governor and CFO.
Scott and Atwater can't agree on who should succeed McCarty, and the law requires that they must. To ease the transition, McCarty offered to delay his departure until 45 days after his successor is chosen.
Scott wants McCarty out next Monday, and his counsel, Spicola, issued an opinion that said: "McCarty cannot unilaterally extend his appointment after he, the governor and the Cabinet all mutually agreed that his last day would be on May 2." Spicola also opined: "The governor and Cabinet unanimously agreed that McCarty's appointment would end on May 2 based on his resignation."
McCarty announced his resignation on Jan. 5. At the next scheduled Cabinet meeting on Jan. 21, the official meeting transcript shows, Scott and Cabinet members discussed how to conduct a search for McCarty's successor, but the record shows that they never took a formal vote to accept McCarty's resignation.
Atwater seized on that point in his rebuttal opinion Wednesday.
"The Financial Services Commission (the Cabinet, when it votes on matters affecting McCarty's agency) did not formally accept the resignation. Commissioner McCarty, therefore, may tender an amended resignation letter providing for an alternative last day in office." The opinion goes on to say: "The commission never took official action to accept the Jan. 5 offer to resign."