Clash between Rick Scott and Jeff Atwater comes to head Friday
A clash of wills between Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater over choosing Florida’s next insurance commissioner threatens to come to a head Friday.
Nearly four months after Kevin McCarty announced his resignation as the state’s chief insurance regulator, Scott and Atwater cannot agree on a successor, as state law requires. The two Republican leaders also can’t even agree on whether McCarty’s job will be vacant next Monday, his initial resignation date.
“We are going to have a new insurance commissioner May 2,” Scott told reporters in Tampa Thursday -- but Atwater rejects Scott’s timetable.
Scott and the Cabinet will interview three more candidates Friday at special meeting called by the governor for 9 a.m. at the Capitol. Neither he nor at least two of the three Cabinet members will physically be present. With Scott determined to hire McCarty’s replacement by Friday, the four officials will convene by phone from four different locations, and candidates will be interviewed by speakerphone with no face-to-face contact.
Scott interviewed two of the candidates in person in Tampa Thursday. Both are deputy commissioners who report to McCarty.
Rich Robleto, 65, rejoined the agency in 2014 after seven years as executive director of Florida Healthy Kids Corp., which provides health insurance to children. Robleto said his minimum acceptable salary is $200,000, the maximum available.
David Altmaier, 34, joined the agency in 2008, has held a variety of posts and currently directs financial oversight of property and casualty insurance companies. He said his minimum acceptable salary is $180,000.
Atwater suggested a third new candidate: Eric Johnson, 33, who joined the insurance office five years ago and has been the chief actuary for the past 13 months, reporting to Robleto. Johnson, who has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Florida State, said he would accept a minimum salary of $185,000.