1. Business

A year later, state pension chief finally fills watchdog job

TALLAHASSEE — Facing pressure to fill a vacant watchdog position, state pension chief Ash Williams announced the hiring of a new inspector general Monday.

Kenneth A. Chambers, a 32-year veteran of investigating and auditing various state entities, will take the job Feb. 13.

He follows Melinda Miguel, who left the position at the State Board of Administration a year ago today to serve as Gov. Rick Scott's chief inspector general. The SBA runs the nation's fourth-largest public pension system for about 1 million current and former public employees, including teachers, police officers, and state and county workers.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater complained about the job being left open in October, amid scrutiny about how Williams handled a public records request by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano's inquiry into a $125 million investment with pension money into a hedge fund was met with a $10,750 estimate from Williams.

Atwater, who oversees the SBA with fellow trustees Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, commended Williams for filling the role, saying in a statement that it "will go a long way towards ensuring accountability, integrity and transparency."

Williams defended his decision not to fill the job months ago by saying he scattered the job's duties among other staffers.

Chambers was most recently inspector general of the Florida Supreme Court, where he worked since 2004. In his new role, he will make $96,000 annually.

Chambers has overseen audits at several state agencies and boards since he began his career in state government in 1979, including at Florida State University and the departments of Business and Professional Regulation and Environmental Protection.