PROPERTY INSURANCE

More misconduct allegations arise at Citizens

 

Citizens and internal complaints

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. released a laundry list of 474 internal complaints Wednesday to the public. Here’s a sampling:

•  An underwriting employee threatened to bring a firearm to work and kill the employees that she dislikes. (Terminated, 2011)

•  An employee was alleged to have used their Citizens’ email account to conduct bank fraud with an external party. (Terminated, 2011)

•  An employee was alleged to have misused corporate resources by accessing adult (nude) internet sites using corporate issued computers and Internet service during work hours. (Terminated, 2011)

•  Employee was found to be using her compensable time and Citizens’ resources in furtherance of illegal gambling activities (Terminated, 2011)

Source: Citizens Property Insurance Corp.


Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

In an attempt to clear its name after a series of scandals involving corporate misconduct and improper spending, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. released a laundry list of 474 internal complaints Wednesday.

While Citizens released the documents to prove that it has properly handled allegations of misconduct in recent years, the move also shined an embarrassing light on much of the company’s internal dirty laundry. The list of complaints reads like a trove of office sex affairs, corporate corruption, fraud, workplace pornography, discrimination, theft and other allegations. In at least one case, a Citizens employee swiped his corporate credit card at a strip club. Names of employees were not disclosed. But law enforcement authorities were alerted in cases of possible alleged criminal activity.

“This review is an important piece of Citizens’ ongoing efforts to strengthen internal policies to ensure that our employees are held to the highest standards of corporate integrity,” said company president Barry Gilway, in a statement. The company stated that “all complaints were addressed and corrective action taken in accordance with Citizens’ policies in place at the time.”

The release of the complaint information is the latest dustup for Citizens, which is still reeling from revelations about lavish corporate spending, large raises for executives and various allegations of impropriety.

Gilway has said that he was immediately hit with news of various corporate scandals when he joined the company last June. After taking what he called “a bashing in the press,” Gilway asked Citizens’ Internal Auditor, Joe Martins, to look over the company’s handling of misconduct allegations. Martins — who disbanded the company’s Corporate Integrity Office and gutted one of its most scathing reports — found that Citizens had handled internal complaints well over the last five years.

“Where we found weaknesses, we are making necessary improvements to strengthen our complaints and disciplinary procedures,” Martins said in a statement. Many of the complaints involved run-of-the-mill employee grievances, such as a supervisor “wearing too much cologne.”

But others involved more serious allegations, including fraud and improper gifts from vendors who do business with Citizens, a multibillion-dollar company backed by state taxpayers.

The release comes as Citizens is looking to reform itself after a series of scandals. Over the past year, the Herald/Times has documented evidence of luxurious business trips, drunken exploits on company retreats, large raises for executives and the abrupt firing of four internal investigators. Many of the misconduct allegations surfaced as Citizens was raising rates on homeowners and reducing coverage.

Before it was disbanded, the Office of Corporate Integrity was responsible for investigating many of the complaints listed in Wednesday’s document release.

The abrupt firing of the OCI investigators — who had recently discovered evidence of misconduct by Citizens’ highest executives — led to allegations that the company was seeking to cover up the group’s findings. In addition to huge severance packages for disgraced executives, the investigators found that Citizens had mishandled several internal complaints and shown favoritism to some employees, including top execs.

Citizens says the four investigators were fired as part of a restructuring. Gov. Rick Scott’s chief inspector general is looking into the firings after the governor said they had “the appearance of impropriety.” The inspector general report on the firings is expected to be released soon. It could offer more tawdry details on the corporate culture at Citizens, where Gilway said he is trying to rebuild the company’s tarnished reputation.

Wednesday’s document release provides ammunition for Citizens’ critics, who say the company needs to fix its own shop before pushing for higher rates for homeowners.

Even Scott, who has generally supported Citizens’ push to downsize, has bashed the insurer of 1.3 million for its corporate missteps. In an interview last week, he used words like “outrageous,” “foolish” and “ridiculous” when describing some of Citizens’ actions.

“When I see some people doing some foolish things, this is a government-organized entity,” he said. “People shouldn’t be doing these things.”

Adding to the company’s long list of embarrassing revelations is a case in which a Citizens employee used his company credit card to purchase “adult entertainment” in 2010.

“The preliminary review of outstanding charges disclosed that the employee had purchased alcohol on at least six separate occasions and entertainment at an adult entertainment establishment,” Wednesday’s report reads. The employee resigned in 2011.

The document release comes several weeks after the Herald/Times requested public records on several complaint cases, including the case involving the adult entertainment. That request remains pending.

Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com or on Twitter at @ToluseO.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

  • CAMPAIGN FINANCE

    High court weighs campaign cash in judicial races

    The Florida Bar said it stands behind its position that judicial candidates should not personally solicit contributions, but that appellate courts across the country have taken differing positions.

  • CAMPAIGN 2014 | Analysis

    Governor candidates stump on Labor Day

    Rick Scott in some respects makes it easy on journalists. If a reporter misses something he says in an interview, maybe even spaces out for a moment, it doesn’t really matter because Scott is certain to say the same thing again. And again. And again.

  • PolitiFact Florida

    Reviewing the record of Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott on education

    As Florida’s students return to school this month, we thought it was a good time to review PolitiFact Florida’s fact-checks.

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