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CFO Atwater Not Ready to Replace Insurance Commissioner

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater isn't ready to discuss a Louisiana official tabbed by Gov. Rick Scott as a possible replacement for Florida's longtime insurance commissioner.

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater
The Florida Channel
Florida CFO Jeff Atwater

Atwater's office reiterated Tuesday that he wants Cabinet members to clearly establish a new process to replace Cabinet-level appointees before discussing a potential move by Scott to replace leaders at the Office of Insurance Regulation, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Revenue.

"As the CFO shared this morning … if any Cabinet member wishes to address any talent within the state of Florida, such conversations are appropriate during public Cabinet meetings and only after a clear process is in place," Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr said.

On Monday, the governor's office released a list of "frequently asked questions" that addressed making changes at the Office of Insurance Regulation.

In the release, the office noted that Scott's staff reached out to Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson about submitting a resume for Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty's job.

"No one on the governor's staff has interviewed Mr. Henderson, and no other resumes have been received for consideration for commissioner of OIR at this time," the release said. "Governor’s staff did not discuss Mr. Henderson with other Cabinet staff."

Atwater attended a Florida Chamber of Commerce insurance summit Tuesday in Orlando, where he discussed plans to continue working with McCarty on personal-injury protection auto insurance and other issues, according to The Palm Beach Post.

On Friday, SNL Financial reported that Scott asked Henderson to interview for McCarty's job two weeks before the governor went public with a proposal to bring in a new insurance commissioner.

Scott's announced his desire to consider the removal of McCarty, Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear and Department of Revenue executive director Marshall Stranburg after Atwater wrote to the governor last week expressing concern with the way longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey left the agency's top job in December.

The FDLE commissioner position is a Cabinet-level appointment.

Cabinet members --- Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam --- said they had been advised that Bailey resigned but acknowledged they didn't inquire into the circumstances.

Scott also told reporters that Bailey had "resigned." Bailey, however, disputed that, telling the Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau that "I did not voluntarily do anything." A spokeswoman for Scott later issued a statement that the governor "thinks it’s important to frequently get new people into government positions of leadership."

Scott needs support from Atwater and one other Cabinet member to make leadership changes at the offices of Insurance Regulation and Financial Regulation.

A spokeswoman for Putnam said Tuesday there have been no discussions with Scott or his staff about replacing McCarty.

Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Bondi, said Tuesday that questions about Cabinet-level leadership changes or Scott asking for a resume before the insurance job was available "are matters that must be discussed at the next state Cabinet meeting."


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Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida