Citizens creates job for top official’s former aide

 

Citizens’ interim president Tom Grady hired his former legislative assistant at $50,000 a year — for a position that didn’t exist before.

Herald/Times Staff Writers

Of all the expenses Tom Grady ran up in his brief tenure at Citizens Property Insurance, none was greater than this: He created a new job for his former legislative aide.

The day after Grady became Citizens’ interim president in March, Jacob Pewitt applied to the company and was promptly hired as “special assistant to the president’’ at $50,000 a year. The position didn’t exist before — Citizens already had a $67,500-a-year “executive assistant to the president’’ — and it hasn’t been filled since.

It was the second state job in seven months that the 30-year-old Pewitt landed at a time when Gov. Rick Scott was pushing to downsize both Citizens and state government.

Pewitt got the first job in September, soon after Grady, a friend of Scott and former state representative from Naples, became commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation. Pewitt made $46,390 a year as a “senior management analyst.’’

Because Pewitt had worked for Grady in the legislature, “no other reference checks were made for Mr. Pewitt due to Commissioner Grady’s knowledge of him and his work,’’ an OFR employee emailed colleagues.

On March 12, the same day Grady started as interim director at Citizens, Pewitt resigned from OFR to follow him to the state-run insurance company.

“I am sad to go but I must take another opportunity that has been presented to me,’’ Pewitt wrote in his resignation letter.

Pewitt, who has a master’s degree in political science, did not respond to requests for comment. In an email to the Times/Herald, Grady said Pewitt’s job was akin to chief of staff, and called it “an important and necessary and altogether different position’’ than what Citizens already had.

Like scores of other Citizens employees, Pewitt carried a corporate credit card. He spent $2,137 on travel, records show. On one trip to Tampa, he put in for mileage for driving Grady back to his hotel after a Board of Governors meeting even though Grady had rented a car at company expense.

Just three months after joining Citizens, Grady was passed over for the permanent president’s job and left the insurer on June 15. Citizens asked Pewitt to quit the same day.’

“We didn’t need the position,’’ said Carlos Lacasa, board chairman, adding “I wasn’t crazy about it’’ when Pewitt was hired.

Pewitt got a payout of $3,846. Grady received $31,194 although he refused to sign a separation agreement that included a confidentiality clause, as departing executives typically do.

During Grady’s short stint at Citizens, the existing executive assistant to the president remained on board. She is now working with the new president, Barry Gilway.

As for Pewitt, who on the social network site LinkedIn calls himself an “experienced political operative,’’ he went back to Naples in June — working at Grady’s law office.

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@tampabay.com. Jeff Harrington can be contacted at jharrington@tampbay.com

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category