1. Opinion

Bondi and Gilway: a failure to lead

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Published Nov. 29, 2012

The sore loser

Pam Bondi should decide whether she wants to keep being Florida's attorney general or become a full-time partisan talking head on Fox News. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the guts of the Affordable Care Act and the election is over, but the Republican cannot accept the judgment of the court or the voters.

Bondi bashed the health care law in a video broadcast this week at the Florida Chamber of Commerce's insurance summit. She accused President Barack Obama and his supporters of lying and repeated campaign scare tactics about the law's economic impact. A more useful message from the attorney general would have been to describe how she intends to help make the federal law work for Floridians and what else she will do to make health care more affordable and accessible.

For example, Bondi could work harder to fight Medicaid fraud since fraud investigators have made fewer arrests this year than last year. She could help Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers create a state insurance exchange tailored to Floridians. She could become a better advocate for elderly consumers who are too often manipulated by health insurers and all sorts of health care providers.

Bondi fought the Affordable Care Act to the U.S. Supreme Court and traveled the country campaigning for Mitt Romney. She lost in court, and her candidate lost on Election Day. It's time to for her to focus on her day job and stop being a sore loser.

The whiner

Barry Gilway did not have a hard act to follow when he took over as CEO of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. six months ago. But after decades in the private insurance industry, he wasn't prepared for the public scrutiny or accountability that comes with running a government-created operation that is the state's largest insurer.

Faced with misconduct uncovered by internal investigators, Gilway fired the investigators and then claimed there was no connection. Then came the published reports that detailed resignations, severance packages and sex scandals. Gilway's response: Shoot the messenger.

The colorful adjectives Gilway used this week to berate the news coverage could have been better applied to his own operation. He backed away a bit Thursday, defending Citizens but saying he didn't want to "incite the press anymore.''

Gilway still doesn't get it. Citizens is not some obscure private insurer where executives can operate in the shadows. And Citizens already is not winning any popularity contests with steering policyholders into undercapitalized private insurers, ordering home reinspections and slashing premium discounts. Florida homeowners deserve better, and discovering some Citizens executives treated the place like Animal House rubs salt into the wound.

Stop whining, take responsibility and clean it up.