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Atwater 'not surprised' at Crist switch

Even as Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater refrained from speculating on the political plans of former Gov. Charlie Crist, he wasn't shy to criticize Crist's switch from Republican to Democrat. 

"I'm not surprised by it," Atwater said with a laugh. "He's been a Republican, he's been an Independent, he's now a Democrat in what's probably a 48-month period. I don't know what's left, maybe there are some other parties out there that would like his participation and might start soliciting."

Atwater, who was Senate president when Crist was governor, also jabbed at Crist for flip-flopping when he held elected office and for passing the buck on tough decisions. Crist is widely believed to be positioning himself to run as a Democrat against Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

"If you were around my last year as president, he vetoed about everything we sent him, that he was for when the session started...I was with him when he announced himself as a Reagan Republican, as a Connie Mack Republican, as a Jeb Bush Republican, so I'll let him make his call, Atwater said. "We always had a fine working relationship, it was always very cordial and I always respected that. We may have had differences of opinion on trying to balance the budget during very difficult times, and I would have liked to see him make some more difficult decisions that the rest of us have had to make."

Atwater also praised Scott for his announcement that Citizens Property Insurance should hire an inspector general to investigate claims of misconduct within the company. Four Citizens investigators were fired as they upturned signs lavish spending and improper management.

"The management embarrassment there has got to come to an end," Atwater said. "The people of Florida have to know this is a place that seriously safeguards the insurance responsibilities they have and can manage it."