Florida’s insurance commissioner appears to have survived in his appointed post for now as a move by the state’s newly re-elected governor to oust him has failed to win support of the other state officials needed to make the change.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has expressed a desire to replace Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty as part of a shake-up of his administration going into a second term.
Scott, however, did not advise his fellow Cabinet members of his intent to replace McCarty nor did he let them know he had already contacted a possible successor, Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson.
Those moves ran afoul of remaining Cabinet members Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, who are already under fire for signing-off on Scott’s controversial decision to replace long-time state Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
Atwater, for one, has said he is not prepared to rubber-stamp any Scott moves, which are scheduled to be discussed at the February 5 Cabinet meeting.
In addition to McCarty’s job, Scott wants changes at the Office of Financial Services and the Department of Revenue.
“I don’t see any action being taken at the next Cabinet meeting regarding any individual because I don’t think that as a Cabinet we are prepared to do that,” said Atwater at an AP-sponsored press conference.
Atwater has not always agreed with McCarty. He has questioned some of McCarty’s decisions, especially on property and automobile rates.
Atwater has questioned why property rates have not substantially declined despite the large reduction in the cost of reinsurance. Atwater has also pressed McCarty on why automobile rates have not declined given the reforms of the state’s auto personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
But Atwater has shown no sign of wanting McCarty removed at this point.
“I am expecting a few things from Insurance Commissioner McCarty over the next few months and I expect he will be the one handing them to me,” said Atwater.
At the same press conference, Scott brushed aside any specific comments on individual agency heads. However, he did reiterate his philosophy when it came to replacing any of those individuals.
“I think it is important to constantly look a your management team,” said Scott. “You say is there any new energy or new people out there. I think that is especially important going into a second term.”
From Atwater’s viewpoint, there needs to be a more formal process in place to handle any agency changes. “We need to have credibility with anyone who we are either reaching out to or sees the prospect of joining Florida in a public service role,” said Atwater.
Atwater also is calling for more Cabinet oversight of the agencies it oversees. He said there needs to be a clear set of expectations for each agency and a means for measuring those. “We need to evaluate on a regular basis the success of the management in achieving that mission,” said Atwater.
McCarty has received support from inside and outside the industry since Scoot indicated he wanted to replace him, although some have been reticent to make public remarks for fear of antagonizing McCarty or a possible replacement.
Florida Association of Insurance Agents President Jeff Grady said that while change in government is common, there is an argument to be made for keeping McCarty.
“Right now you have good market conditions, a stable market, and a stable regulatory environment,” said Grady. “You don’t want to mess that up.”
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