Fasano, watchdog groups call for probe into Citizens 'integrity' firings
Two groups and one Senator are asking Gov. Rick Scott to look deeper into why Citizens Property Insurance Corp. fired its entire Office of Corporate Integrity unit this month.
On Monday, the leaders of Integrity Florida and Policyholders of Florida fired off a letter to Scott, stating that Citizens’ recent decision to disband its corporate integrity unit was “incomprehensible.”
“Abusing travel expenditures is unacceptable, but gutting the watchdog inside of the so-called people’s insurer of last resort is incomprehensible,” wrote Integrity Florida director Dan Krassner and Policyholders of Florida founder Sean Shaw. “We find it especially troubling that the terminated employees were asked to sign confidentiality agreements. It certainly gives a perception of corruption.”
Scott has also said he was concerned by Citizens’ decision to fire four corporate watchdogs, even as internal complaints of waste, fraud and abuse are on the rise.
Citizens president Barry Gilway said the state-run insurer is realigning its integrity efforts in order to beef up forensic fraud detection, and it has put out job postings for new ethics officers. But the corporate integrity team was disbanded before any forensic accountants were hired.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, also asked the governor to probe the firings, which he called shocking.
“The Office of Corporate Integrity should be the watchdogs, not the scapegoat,” Fasano wrote in a letter to Scott.
Read the letters from Integrity Florida, Policyholders of Florida and Sen. Fasano, below:
October 22, 2012
Honorable Rick Scott
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Dear Governor Scott:
We are concerned about the lack of oversight and accountability at Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
Last week, we learned that Barry Gilway, President of Citizens, terminated every employee within the Office of Corporate Integrity. As you know, these firings came on the heels of reports of lavish, non-mission critical spending. Abusing travel expenditures is unacceptable, but gutting the watchdog inside of the so-called people’s insurer of last resort is incomprehensible. We find it especially troubling that the terminated employees were asked to sign confidentiality agreements. It certainly gives a perception of corruption.
We appreciate your public concern and your request that Florida’s Chief Inspector General scrutinize the wasteful travel expenditures. However, we are asking you today to expand the focus of the Chief Inspector General’s ongoing investigation to review the disbandment of the Office of Corporate Integrity.
Floridians deserve a closer look at Citizen’s accountability, ethics, transparency, and compliance. As consumer advocate and government watchdog coalitions, we can only scrutinize and protect policyholders and taxpayers with publicly available information. We rely on internal watchdogs, inspectors, investigators, auditors, and a transparent process to prevent corrupt use of public money and to safeguard the integrity of the public sector.
Taxpayers and policyholders deserve accountability. Thank you for your consideration of our request.
Executive Director Founder
Integrity Florida Policyholders of Florida
Read Sen. Fasano’s letter, here: