Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis

By Amy O’Connor | May 4, 2018
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from a previous version with comment from the CFO’s office.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants to see requirements put in place for those lobbying the state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

In an open letter to Citizens President, CEO an Executive Director Barry Gilway, Patronis said the state-backed insurer should be subject to the same rules as state agencies and organizations when it comes requiring lobbyists be registered, but as of now that isn’t the case.

“Currently, lobbyists and private insurers are not statutorily required to disclose their efforts on behalf of clients and private interest they represent before Citizens Property Insurance Corporation,” Patronis  wrote.

Citizens Legislative Affairs staff currently do register as lobbyists. Patronis’ letter says it is targeted towards those who represent third parties and private interests, such as businesses, and lobby Citizens.

Patronis wrote transparency is “one of the best ways we can ensure accountability,” and that it should be “crystal clear who is interested in influencing Citizens policy changes or securing contracts with  [Citizens].”

To address the matter and the lack of a statutory requirement, Patronis requested Citizens attend the next meeting of the Florida Cabinet, which in addition to Patronis consists of Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

“Citizens should examine its internal Code of Ethics and consider options such as publicly documenting entities that lobby Citizens,” Patronis wrote. “These options would be a proactive approach while awaiting the next legislative session to address this statutorily.”

He concluded by saying, “A public entity that provides insurance to more than 444,000 policyholders in Florida, and the potential financial impact that Citizens has for all Floridians’ insurance policies, should ensure all lobbying activities are conducted in the sunshine.”

In a statement to Insurance Journal, Citizens Chairman of the Board Chris Gardner said “Citizens is looking forward to working with CFO Patronis and Cabinet on this issue and will come with specific proposals on how to accomplish the goals outlined in his letter to ensure transparency.”

Update: The CFO’s office wrote in an email to Insurance Journal on Friday that the letter to Citizens “is part of the CFO’s focus on transparency, and his goal is to ensure transparency is a priority at state-backed organizations.”

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