By: Gray Rohrer
The Florida Current
Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wants all seven members of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board to resign immediately.
The move comes in the wake of a report released this week by Gov. Rick Scott’s inspector general criticizing Citizens board members and senior management for lavish spending while traveling abroad.
“Citizens is continually looking for ways to increase premiums, reduce coverage and push its customers out. 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 said in a prepared statement.
Scott asked his inspector general to look into Citizens’ travel spending after a Miami Herald article was published in August detailing exorbitant hotel stays and meals. Officials stayed at $600-per-night rooms and racked up $200-plus dinners.
The inspector general report notes that none of the spending was in violation of Citizens’ existing policies, but would have violated travel spending rules for state workers and recommended the state-run company adhere to the standards for state workers.
“We believe that the examples contained in this report, while incurred within the parameters outlined in Citizens’ written policies in place at the time, are excessive by state standards, this type of spending will continue to occur if Citizens does not follow state travel laws,” the report states.
A spokeswoman for Citizens did not immediately return phone calls and emails for comment.
Citizens president and CEO Barry Gilway, who was appointed in June, instituted stricter travel policies in October after Scott asked his inspector general to look into the travel expenditures.
“We have reviewed the report’s findings and recommendations and agree that, as guardians of public funds, we must hold ourselves to a more rigorous standard,” Gilway said in a prepared statement earlier this week. “As recommended in the report, Citizens will further tighten our policy to better comply with state travel standards and reporting requirements.”
Citizens’ travel budget increased nearly doubled, from $1.7 million in 2011 to almost $3.4 million in 2012. In the current budget, money allotted for travel has dropped to $1.77 million.