Five months after Gov. Rick Scott could not get the rest of the Florida Cabinet to agree to appoint Palm Harbor resident Jeffrey Bragg the state's insurance commissioner, Scott has found him a new post leading the Department of Elder Affairs.
Scott on Wednesday appointed Bragg to replace Sam Verghese who announced he is leaving the agency to "pursue opportunities in the private sector." Verghese was originally appointed to Elder Affairs in December 2014. Bragg's appointment is effective on Friday. Verghese is the second agency head to resign on Wednesday. Earlier in the day Scott announced Liz Dudek, the head of the Agency for Health Care Administration, was retiring.
Bragg re-emerges in state goverment after a weeks-long political battle Scott led in the spring to try to get him appointed insurance commissioner. Twice Scott and Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater deadlocked over who to pick. Atwater refused to accept Bragg, while Scott refused to go with Atwater's choice of Rep. Bill Hager. State law requires Scott and Atwater to agree on the insurance commissioner. Eventually both went with a different option, selecting David Altmaier to lead the agency.
Bragg, 67, ran the nation's terrorism risk insurance program from 2003 until his retirement in 2014. In the early 1980s, he worked under the Reagan Administration, serving in the Federal Emergency Management Agency where he was the administrator for the national flood insurance program.
"He's an accomplished professional," Scott said in April after he failed a second time in getting Bragg appointed to Insurance Commissioner. "His tremendous subject matter and operational knowledge of the insurance industry make him an undeniable fit."
Scott again praised Bragg on Wednesday, but this time for his management skills.
"He has over 40 years of experience in the public and private sectors, and is a proven leader who is uniquely qualified for this position," Scott said. "His experience as well as his management skills will bring new ideas to the department. I am confident he will be a great advocate for the elderly in our state."