Friday, March 22, 2024

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: U.S. Senate committee frustrated by Citizens Insurance dodging questions after Gov. DeSantis says company ‘not solvent’. (A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics, March 19, 2024))

Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse is correct, and the DeSANTIS maladministration is hiding evidence, again.   Another corporate lawyer and DeSANTIS acolyte, former GrayRobinson lawyer TIMOTHY CERIO, is the CEO of Citizens insurance, another DeSANTIS crony -- his former Chief Counsel, natch!  From James Madison Institute:

T⁠i⁠mo⁠t⁠hy M. Cer⁠i⁠o

Tim is a lawyer practicing in Tallahassee, Florida.  Tim focuses his practice on regulatory and health care law; government investigations; administrative law, including representation of clients in regulatory, administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings; and complex litigation in state and federal courts. Tim previously served as General Counsel to Florida Governor Rick Scott. As General Counsel, Tim was the chief legal advisor to the Governor, and the Executive Office of the Governor’s legal liaison to all state agencies.

For many years Tim was a shareholder with the state-wide law firm of GrayRobinson, P.A.  Tim also served as general counsel of the Florida Department of Health. With over 16,000 employees and a $2.8 billion budget, the Florida Department of Health is responsible for regulating all licensed health care practitioners and delivering public health services throughout the state of Florida. As general counsel, Tim provided advice and counsel to the secretary and other department leaders on legal issues impacting the operation and administration of the Department of Health and managed and supervised the activities of a statewide team of over 75 lawyers under the Office of the General Counsel. Tim was later named chief of staff of the department. As chief of staff, Tim functioned as the chief operations officer for the Department of Health and served as the secretary’s primary strategic liaison with the Executive Office of the Governor and other governmental and community partners.

Tim was raised in Bradenton, Florida, and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida in 1990. During his tenure at the university, Tim was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to serve as the student member of the Florida Board of Regents. As a regent, Tim created and chaired the State University System Minority Student Retention Task Force. Additionally, Tim received the Outstanding Male Leader award for his graduating class, was a member of the Florida Blue Key leadership honorary and was elected to the University of Florida Hall of Fame. Tim earned his juris doctor degree with honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1995. During law school, Tim was a member of The Florida Law Review. Tim also served as a law clerk to The Honorable Thomas G. Wilson, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Florida.

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From Florida Politics:

Senate committee frustrated by Citizens Insurance dodging questions after Gov. DeSantis says company ‘not solvent’

'Citizens has not adequately addressed the Committee’s questions and has ignored repeated attempts at follow up.'

The Chair of a U.S. Senate committee is putting Florida’s insurer of last resort on blast for not responding to its questions about its financial footing, amid concerns that the state may lean on the federal government to bail out the insurance market after a major hurricane.

In the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis claiming Citizens Property Insurance is “not solvent,” U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse is “renewing all requests for information and documents set out in the Committee’s November letter related to the company’s plans to address increased underwriting losses from climate-related extreme weather events and other disasters.”

Last year, Whitehouse wrote the Governor, Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky and Citizens CEO Tim Cerio with concerns about how climate risk could push Florida’s insurer of last resort into insolvency.

Months later, the Rhode Island Democrat is frustrated.

“Citizens has not adequately addressed the Committee’s questions and has ignored repeated attempts at follow up. In a non-responsive letter dated December 15, (Cerio) referred to a Florida law enabling the company to levy special assessments on all policyholders as a basis for its solvency,” reads a press release from the committee that notes the question of whether the insurer would need a federal bailout is still unanswered to date.

“Citizens has failed to cooperate with our investigation,” said Whitehouse on Tuesday.

“Governor DeSantis’s repeated statements that Citizens is not solvent and the company’s own public comments about their ability to shift their financial losses to Florida policyholders have done nothing to assuage the Committee’s concerns about possible future requests for a federal bailout. Floridians are grappling with already astronomical insurance rates and one future storm could make things far, far worse. I look forward to Citizens’ full compliance with our investigation.”

The latest letter takes issue with a recurrent DeSantis claim that private companies are taking risk off the backs of taxpayers through absorbing some Citizens policies. It notes that the “offloading” consists of “often its least risky policies.”

Whitehouse also suggests the company isn’t complying with state law.

“As a public entity in Florida, Citizens is generally subject to the Florida Sunshine Law, which broadly states that ‘all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person” and that “(p)roviding access to public records is a duty of each agency.’ Citizens’ own website makes clear that it was ‘created by the Florida Legislature in August 2002 as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, government entity.’ The statute governing Citizens equally makes clear that Citizens is subject to the record retention provisions of the Sunshine Law, with limited exceptions.”

DeSantis has warned about Citizens’ bloat in the past, comments that aren’t likely to reassure Whitehouse’s concerns that the state will eventually beg Washington for help.

He noted in 2022 that Citizens was “unfortunately undercapitalized” and that the company could go “belly up” if it actually had to weather a major storm.

Questionable messaging isn’t just a thing of the past though. DeSantis, on successive days last year, blamed the Legislature for not implementing insurance reforms he wanted, then refused to say what those reforms were when asked directly.

The Governor also made news during a 2023 radio interview with a Boston host, when he suggested homeowners should “knock on wood” and hope the state didn’t get hit by a storm.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

1 comment:

Bob said...

These Republicans are so stuck on free market solutions and no government intervention in the economy that they hamstring themselves when it comes to solving problems. They end up doing nothing or doing the wrong thing. It would help if Republican leaders listened to educated people but judging by Ladapo's handling of the measles crisis.. that's not what's happening. They simply go off of philosophy and ideology. If that requires them to be empty suits then that's what they'll do. Unless it's some action against some so called "woke company" in which case their malfeasance becomes an asset to them all of a sudden.