Citizens Property Insurance continues to be engulfed in controversy in the wake of a series of Herald/Times news reports detailing evidence of misconduct at the state’s largest insurance company. Now, a state Representative is calling for the “immediate resignation and replacement” of the company’s entire board.
After an inspector general report detailed excessive travel spending by company executives and board members, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Citizens needs to clean house.
Fasano, a long-time critic of Citizens, said the board has been raising rates on homeowners while living large on the company dime, and all of its members should be ousted.
“Citizens is continually looking for ways to increase premiums, reduce coverage and push its customers out,” Fasano said. “At the same time board members and executives are traveling literally around the world, staying at the finest hotels and dining on first class food, all at its customers’ expense.”
Fasano’s comments come on the heels of very strongly worded statements by Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater blasting Citizens execs for their spending habits.
“Any egregious expenses, unethical behavior, or violation of the law must be grounds for dismissal,” said Scott, requesting tougher standards on spending and travel at Citizens.
Said Atwater: "this culture of excess and poor judgment is unacceptable, and Floridians deserve better.''
The report by Scott’s inspector general, detailing corporate spending abuses and lack of institutional controls, can be found here. Citizens remains under a separate investigation for firing corporate investigators that were looking into evidence of misconduct by top officials.
Citizens President Barry Gilway said the company would adopt stricter standards in response to the report.
Fasano's press release is below:
Representative Fasano Calls for Immediate Resignation & Replacement of Citizens Board Members
In light of the newly released Inspector General’s report regarding excessive travel by some Citizens board members and executive staff, State Representative Mike Fasano calls for the resignation of all board members. Additionally, he asks Florida’s governor, chief financial officer, president of the Senate and speaker of the House to appoint new board members who will be fiscally responsible. Representative Fasano asked for an investigation last year when news reports first brought the extraordinary travel expenses to light.
“Citizens is continually looking for ways to increase premiums, reduce coverage and push its customers out,” Representative Fasanostates. “At the same time board members and executives are traveling literally around the world, staying at the finest hotels and dining on first class food, all at its customers’ expense.”
The governor’s inspector general’s report details the travel, which is far in excess of what state employees are allowed. For example, a Citizens’ board member upgraded a hotel room in Bermuda to a cost well over $600 per night. Additionally, executives dined on a meal in London that cost nearly $80 per person.
“These executives spent almost as much on one meal as some state employees are allowed per day in per diem,” Representative Fasanostates. “There is obviously a culture at Citizens that it is okay to spend its customers’ dollars in such a blatantly wasteful fashion. The only way to change that culture is to clean house. That cleaning must begin at the top. The Citizens board sets policy and creates a climate which directs this company. It is time for a new climate and a new direction.”