“Preposterous” “absurd,” “disgusting” and “shameful” were words used
Tuesday by the president of the beleaguered
Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Was he talking about the bra-stripping human resource
executive who got drunk at the Coyote Ugly Bar during a business trip? No.
Was he referring to the underwriting executive who received
more than $80,000 in severance after being accused of having an affair with an
Could he have been talking about the Citizens’ employee who
ran a sex toy operation out of Citizens’ mail room? Not at all.
Gilway reserved such harsh language for members of the
media, whose watchdog journalism uncovered these and other improprieties that have taken place at the taxpayer-backed Citizens in recent years.
During a special hearing to address many of the allegations
of corporate misconduct at Citizens, Gilway and members of Citizens board spent
considerable time attacking the reporters and columnists that have written
about the scandal surrounding the company.
While the reports have been poignant enough to spur two investigations
by Gov. Rick Scott’s chief Inspector
General in the past three months, Gilway and board members spent much of Tuesday’s
launching thinly-veiled attacks against the authors of those reports.
The board also pointed out that many of the allegations—including
huge severance payments to disgraced employees, sexual improprieties, employee
favoritism and the altering of incriminating documents—had occurred under a
“I feel bad about what happened in the past administration,”
said board member Carol Everhart.
Gilway joined Citizens in June.
Blame was also deflected to the Office of Corporate
Integrity—which uncovered piles of incriminating evidence against top
executives and was disbanded last month.
Gilway said the explosive 73-page report drafted by the
Office of Corporate Integrity was riddled with inaccuracies and unworthy of
being presented to the board. Instead, boardmembers were
presented with a 5-page report, omitting many of the specific details in
the longer draft by OCI.
Gilway did take a bit of blame for closing the Office of
Corporate Integrity at a time when Citizens’ was being investigated for lavish
executive spending on travel and meals. Gov. Scott, Chief Financial Officier Jeff Atwater, and other top elected
officials have openly criticized that decision.
“The bad decision was not to eliminate the Office of Corporate
Integrity,” said Gilway. “The bad
decision was how we did it. Dumb.”