TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Government watchdog group Integrity Florida is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to expand an investigation into Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Gov. Scott ordered his inspector general to investigate allegations of lavish spending among executives at the state-operated insurer. Executives are accused of travel abuses, such as spending $600 a night for hotels and using company credit cards for personal expenses.
In the middle of the governor's investigation, Citizens President Barry Gilway fired all the employees in the company's Office of Corporate Integrity.
That's a troubling move and Gov. Scott should take a closer look, according to Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida. He says Gilway's decision to eliminate the company's internal watchdogs raises serious questions.
"Right in the middle of the governor's investigation Citizens disbands its Office of Corporate Integrity. Why would they do that? And now they're asking for confidentiality agreements to be signed by employees that already signed confidentiality agreements with their code of ethics. Were these government watchdogs doing their jobs too well?"
Citizens counters that all the duties of the Office of Corporate Integrity have been turned over to employees in other departments. The company says it is hiring more highly trained forensic accountants to focus on financial abuse.
Now many of those complaints will go to Chief Internal Auditor Joe Martins. Martins and Gilway both worked for Zurich International between October, 1997 and December, 2006.