Make us your home page
Instagram

Confidence fades as Citizens Property antics become public

Citizens Property Insurance was created in 2002 by the state to protect Floridians unable to find private insurance coverage.

Now who will protect us from Citizens' bad behavior?

A series of remarkably poor decisions — from flamboyant executive travel to canning the very staff investigating ethical lapses at the insurer — leaves Citizens in a wretched position with both its own beleaguered policyholders and a frustrated public. The few shreds of credibility still attached to Citizens may soon be in jeopardy as more dirt comes to light from a 73-page internal draft report detailing gross improprieties, sexual misconduct and fat severance checks for disgraced Citizens employees.

Even the failure of the draft report, gutted by Citizens, to see the light of day is outrageous. Thanks to reporting by Toluse Olorunnipa of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald bureau in Tallahassee, details of the document are now public.

Citizens president Barry Gilway last month terminated the four staff investigators working on this report, buried the report findings and shuttered Citizens' "Office of Corporate Integrity." After newspapers criticized these events, Gilway said better qualified fraud experts would replace the four and bemoaned the media's misrepresentations. As he stated in his Oct. 26 letter in the Palm Beach Post:

"A review showed that the former Office of Corporate Integrity lacked financial forensics experts who could identify and initiate investigations of internal fraud or policy violations. Most complaints investigated turned out to be workplace complaints and employee performance issues more appropriately handled by management and Employee Relations."

If Gilway suggests the details about Citizens in the report (much of it happened before Gilway arrived) is the work of such inadequate watchdogs, what would a high-powered probe discover?

Now Gilway is set to meet today with the insurer's board of directors to discuss this matter. Citizens chairman Carlos Lacasa says restoring public confidence is a priority.

One meeting may not do it.

As reported in the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida newspapers, the report finds:

• Citizens underwriting vice president Paul Palumbo received severance pay of more than $80,000 in 2010 as the company "closed without investigation" an inquiry into "inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment."

• Chief administration officer Susanne Murphy identified herself as the company's corporate counsel but was not a member of the Florida Bar. After company officials changed documents relating to her employment history, a 2010 Citizens review recommended no action.

• Two intoxicated management-level employees "removed their bras in front of employees" in a Coyote Ugly bar incident in Ybor City in 2009. Company officials advised counseling.

We can skip the part about the adult novelty business.

Gov. Rick Scott has asked state Inspector General Melinda Miguel to investigate the firings of the four Citizens Property investigators.

How telling that Citizens was created as insurer of "last resort." The definition of "last resort" is "a means to an end adopted only in desperation."

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Confidence fades as Citizens Property antics become public 11/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marijuana extract Epidiolex helps some kids with epilepsy, study shows

    Health

    A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot's possible health benefits.

    An employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. [Associated Press (2015)]
  2. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    President Donald Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House with members of the GOP on May 4 after the House passed legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act. [Cheriss May | Sipa USA via TNS]
  3. St. Pete Economic Development Corporation lures marketing firm MXTR to town

    Economic Development

    St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation has lured its first big catch to St. Petersburg — MXTR Automation. The digital marketing company announced Wednesday that it will fill 20 "high-wage" creative positions within the next 18 months, as well as open an office in downtown St. Petersburg this year.

  4. United Airlines CEO to investors: We'll be more focused on customers

    Airlines

    CHICAGO — The CEO of United Airlines assured shareholders Wednesday that the company is doing all it can to be more customer-friendly since video surfaced of a passenger being violently ejected from a plane last month.

    Chicago Police arrest protesters after they sat down in a busy street blocking traffic outside a United Airlines shareholders meeting Wednesday, in downtown Chicago. The people who were arrested were protesting the low pay of employees of companies that provide meals and other services for United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
[Associated Press]
  5. Humana adding 200 telemarketing jobs in Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Health insurance company Humana Inc. is hiring more than 200 workers in Tampa Bay. The Louisville, Ky.-based company said Wednesday that the new positions will focus on phone sales for Humana's direct marketing services department.