Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Inspector general is asked to investigate Citizens ethics

TALLAHASSEE — Two top executives at Citizens Property Insurance called for an investigation Monday into the way the state-run insurer handles employees who leave the agency to go to work for companies that receive contracts.

Citizens CEO Barry Gilway and chairman of the board Chris Gardner asked the agency's inspector general, Bruce Meeks, to conduct an independent investigation in the wake of a report by the Times/Herald on the recent spate of executives who have left the state-run insurance company to go to work for vendors.

State law prohibits all employees who are responsible for a contract from leaving a state agency to go to work for a company that holds that contract. Citizens applies the law only to senior executives and members of the board of directors and says there is no ethical breach when an employee with oversight of a company contract takes a job handling other matters at the same company.

The Times/Herald found that in the past three years, at least three senior executives at Citizens Property Insurance who were in charge of multimillion-dollar contracts awarded to private companies went to work months later for those same companies.

The head of the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Sen. David Simmons, also called for changes to the existing ethics law to ensure "that we not only prevent impropriety but any appearance of impropriety."

Gilway and Gardner said in a joint statement that they were confident Citizens was applying the laws appropriately. But Gilway said the review was needed "to ensure Citizens is operating in a transparent and ethical manner."

Dan Krassner, director of Integrity Florida, also called Monday for Meeks to investigate the ethics practices at Citizens, but he also urged the inspector general to investigate whether the contracts cited in the Times/Herald report "provided the best deals for the public."

"The public deserves to know if Citizens executives are privately gaining from their positions with the state-run insurer," Krassner said in a statement.

Gardner noted that Citizens has a "unique role as a government entity providing insurance similar to the private market."

He said that in the past two years, Citizens has made "increased oversight and transparency a top priority and has carefully reviewed and strengthened its internal oversight procedures regarding travel expenses, procurement and governance.

"I look forward to a review by our inspector general to ensure that post-employment guidelines are also appropriate," Gardner said.

In 2013, the Florida Legislature created the inspector general position to provide oversight at Citizens and, in December, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet appointed Meeks to the role.

Meeks, a Tallahassee lawyer, reports to the governor and Cabinet, which serve as the Financial Services Commission. The law prevents Citizens staffers from interfering with his investigations.

Inspector general is asked to investigate Citizens ethics 06/02/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2014 8:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey


    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign


    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.