Jeff Atwater, Florida's chief financial officer, said Gov. Rick Scott shouldn't wait until legislation is passed next year to create an independent watchdog position at Citizens Property Insurance. Arguing that the public's confidence needs to be re-established, Atwater is suggesting a workaround that could create an inspector general job at Citizens right away.
"I am deeply troubled by the ongoing reports of reprehensible behavior and mismanagement at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., and applaud your demands that Citizens appoints a strong, independent Inspector General," Atwater wrote in a letter sent to Scott on Wednesday.
Atwater's letter points out that the Cabinet, which also operates as the state's Financial Services Commission, has oversight of Citizens. He suggests that the commission vote to hire an inspector general that is assigned to Citizens but reports to the panel for the next 12 months.
"Citizens' stakeholders have a right to know that the resources of the corporation are being deployed appropriately, and that the management team conducts itself in a responsible manner," he wrote. "This can best be achieved by our direct oversight of an independent inspector general."
Atwater's plan would give the Legislature time to enact a law needed to permanently assign an inspector general to Citizens. Asked to respond to the proposal, Scott's office didn't say whether he would agree to the plan but continued to call for additional oversight at Citizens.
"Gov. Scott supports the concept of an independent inspector general for Citizens," Melissa Sellers, Scott's communications director, wrote in an email.
Sean Shaw, founder of the Policyholders of Florida who works for a law firm that represents policyholders, sent a statement applauding Atwater's proposal.
"This is a good idea. Clearly, even the Financial Services Commission now understands that Citizens needs more independent oversight in order to protect policyholders and taxpayers," he said.