TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President Barry Gilway says he made a "dumb decision" in how he went about abolishing the firm's Office of Corporate Integrity.
Gilway said Tuesday it was a mistake to abolish the office in the midst of an attorney general's investigation into alleged travel expense irregularities. He said he should first have taken action against underperforming employees in the office.
He also said problems at the state-backed insurer have been greatly exaggerated in some reports and that the actions of a few shouldn't tarnish all 1,300 employees at the company who are doing a good job.
Gov. Rick Scott ordered an investigation last month to review Citizens' decision to fire four employees responsible for finding wrongdoing in the agency after reports of lavish travel expenses some executives.
Tallahassee, FL - Governor Rick Scott is ordering an investigation into why Citizen Property Insurance fired its internal investigators. The four employees of the Citizens Office of Integrity were let go last month, and now, what they were investigation at the time of their release is shining suspicion on their termination.
This newly released report by Citizens Audit Committee shows the insurer dismantled its Office of Corporate Integrity amid 42 open investigations. The four member watchdog group was investigating employees accused of theft, fraud and misbehavior.
“We wonder, were the watchdogs doing their jobs too well?”
Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida has questions about why the investigators were let go.
The watchdogs were investigating a female manager accused of taking off her cloths at a company event in Tampa, wasteful spending on business trips and huge severance packages for employees who quit in disgrace.
“There have been reports of lavish spending, travel and hotel expenditures and partying in Ybor City and Key West on the policyholders’ dime,” said Krassner.
News of the open investigations made it to the state legislature Tuesday, as members met in organizational session.
“Whistleblowers shouldn’t be the people who get it trouble. It should be the people who cause the trouble,” said Senate President Don Gaetz.
Governor Rick Scott ordered an investigation into the layoffs. In a letter to the chief inspector general Scott writes “The people of Florida are entitled to accountability and transparency within every aspect of our government.”
Representative Mike Fasano says it’s a good start.
“I’m encouraged that the governor has asked for an investigation into it, but it has to go beyond that. Citizens has to be transparent,” said Fasano.
Citizens says they let the investigators go to make room for more auditors to track down insurance fraud. The company’s president welcomes the investigation. And Citizens President Barry Gilway actually asked Governor Rick Scott to investigate in an attempt to thwart some of the bad publicity.