The first Democrat to challenge incumbent Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater was a disaster, but this new guy has his own set of troubles.
William Rankin, a Fort Lauderdale businessman, faces questions about his resume and recently missed a financial reporting deadline. Now that his November fundraising totals have been posted online, we see there isn't much there.
$151. That's what Rankin raised in cash in November. Of course, that's a six-fold increase from his October haul of $25. He keeps his fledgling campaign afloat using $10,600 he loaned to himself.
Meanwhile, Republican Atwater has $814,756 on hand after raising $235,825 in November.
Rankin filed his paperwork at the beginning of October and announced his candidacy on Oct. 22. He says he is focused on traveling the state and getting to know Democrats around Florida, not raising money.
"There's a lot of time out there," he told the Times/Herald today.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is asking for state insurance regulators to explain why property insurance companies don't seem to be passing along their cost savings to consumers.
At the heart of the issue is the drop in the cost of re-insurance, which has dropped in price after a series of legislative reforms. Atwater asked the same question to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty in an August letter. McCarty responded in a letter, and at a recent Cabinet meeting, and said that rather than reduce the cost of premiums for consumers, insurers were purchasing more re-insurance.
Now, Atwater wants better answers and he is asking McCarty to prepare a report by Dec. 18.
"My question to you is simple: 'Why have rates not come down?',” Atwater writes. Here's his letter: Download 10.29.2013 Letter to McCarty Regarding Property Insurance Costs (1)
It's 10:13 p.m., do you know who your Democratic CFO candidate is? Well, just wait 60 seconds, then.
At 10:14 p.m., the oddest of all times for a political announcement, businessman William Rankin announced he'd challenge state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
A retired vet, businessman and former Ohio state treasury official, Rankin has a good bio on paper. So maybe the dark-of-night-campaign announcement forshadows a dark-horse campaign.
But already you have to wonder about the success of a campaign against a seasoned and well-funded pol like Atwater. Still, compared to the last Democrat running for the office, Allie Braswell, Rankin doesn't look as if he'll embarrass the party.
Here's the press release:
Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t sound ready to ask U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to change his position and back a U.S. House flood-insurance measure to temporarily halt hefty rate increases starting Oct. 1
Scott referenced the House measure in a letter last week to Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson, who then proposed legislation to delay rate increases for a year. But Rubio didn’t go that far in a Thursday response, where he expressed his concerns, but faulted the House proposal.
When asked Friday about Rubio’s response, Scott said “my concern is for our economy, our families and our state.” He mentioned the issue was discussed this week at the Florida Cabinet meeting with St Petersburg’s mayor, Bill Foster.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says he's committed to helping small business owners and other Floridians learn about the provisions of the health care law. But he also wants people to watch out for scammers who are using the law to trying to swindle personal information from people eager to sign up for coverage.
The bulletin Atwater put out today does not criticize the law and is free from the combative tone other Republican lawmakers have used when discussing the Affordable Care Act. Also, it comes at a time when Gov. Rick Scott is receiving growing pressure from Democrats to denounce a Department of Health policy keep enrollment advisors from helping patients at local health departments sign up for coverage. Scott continues to avoid the issue.
Affordable Care Act scams are a legitimate concern, as Atwater points out. Companies not affiliated with the federal health exchange that people will use to shop for insurance coverage are running ads on TV and radio and setting up websites that could confuse people, officials say.
The people actually being paid by the federal government to help Floridians sign up for coverage are being trained not to ask for personal information. They don't begin working until Oct. 1 and will be housed at government and non-profit agencies.
Here is the full statement from Atwater:
"I’m not a politician. But what we’re getting out of politician Jeff Atwater is a go-along to get-along style that is hurting Floridians. Under his watch, billions in no-bid contracts have been given away and people with insider connections are getting rich off taxpayer money,” said Braswell, a Sanford native and son of a citrus truck driver and Marine Corps. veteran.
“We need a leader who will help protect taxpayers by cracking down on huge contracts that politicians are handing over to their supporters and political allies,'' he said. "I’ll be a fiscal watchdog who will hold our government and politicians accountable and fight to shift the focus of our leaders away from helping their friends and back to attracting good jobs to Florida."
As a first time candidate little known outside the Orlando area, Braswell is the clear underdog against Atwater, a formidable money-raiser who previously served as Florida Senate president and as a banking executive.
Braswell, after 13 years in the Marines, worked a senior technology officer and diversity manager at Walt Disney World, before taking the helm of the Metropolitcan Orlando Urban League in 2010 at the time the non-profit was struggling.
New chairman for Citizens Board of Governors
Chris Gardner, a veteran of the retail insurance brokerage business, has been named chairman of the Board of Governors for Citizens Property Insurance Corp.by Florida CFO Jeff Atwater.
Gardner, a resident of Winter Park, has 20 years of experience in the retail insurance brokerage business with a specific focus in commercial property and casualty insurance. He has served as a member of the Citizens board since his appointment in July 2011.
“In his 20 years in the insurance industry, Chris has proved himself to be a person of high character and sound judgment who shares my high expectations for how a corporation such as Citizens should be managed,” Atwater said in a news release.
Gardner is the managing shareholder of Kuykendall Gardner, LLC, a Florida-based insurance broker doing business since 1953. Neither the firm collectively nor Gardner personally has any current business interests in Citizens, according to the release. He has been a past chairman of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and is a past vice chairman of the City of Orlando Municipal Planning Board.
Gardner succeeds Carlos Lacasa as chairman of the Citizen’s board.
Another change: Sen. President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has appointed Freddie Schinz to the Citizens Board of Governors.
Schinz has more than 40 years of experience as a statewide commercial builder. He replaces Carol Everhart.
Gaetz has appointed Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) to the Southern States Energy Board, Sen. John Legg (R-Lutz) to the Education Commission of the States, Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) to the Workforce Florida, Inc., Board of Directors, and Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) to the Florida High School Athletic Association Public Liaison Advisory Committee.
Flores, 36, is an attorney and CEO of Doral College. Legg, 38, is a long-time Pasco County educator and the Senate Education Committee Chair. Montford, 65, is the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Stargel, 47, is an investment property manager in Lakeland.
In a letter to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asks why it is that as re-insurance costs for property insurers are dropping, they are not lowering premiums for Florida customers.
He doesn't ask McCarty to do anything about it. He doesn't suggest he is going to do anything about it, but he is raising the point. Here's his letter: Download 8.7.2013 Letter to Commissioner McCarty
An excerpt from a story in Wednesday's paper:
Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Florida Cabinet have signed off on a controversial new disclosure form that critics say is intended to poison Floridians against the health care law.
The Florida Legislature passed a law requiring the form after Republicans argued that policyholders need to know how federal reforms will affect their premiums. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — all Republicans — on Tuesday approved the disclosure forms unanimously and with no debate.
In recent weeks, critics have said the forms are useless and any efforts to compare policies that comply with the health care law to those that don't is "fuzzy math."
"It's totally about politics, and, probably more importantly, it's an incredible waste of money," said Bill Newton, executive director of Florida Consumer Action Network, which supports the federal health care law.
Prior to a vote, Putnam referred to the Office of Insurance Regulation's report that said individual plans would have an average increase of 30 to 40 percent under the federal law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has questioned those estimates.
"Across the country we have seen press announcements by state insurance commissioners that consistently indicate substantial increases in premiums to the consumer, especially in that individual market," Putnam said after the meeting.