Weatherford has never made public his connection to U.S. Cat Adjusters, which is a contractor for Citizens. As House speaker he’s in a position to control legislation that affects homeowners and windstorm insurance, and for many Floridians Citizens remains the only affordable (though barely) choice.
Records show that Weatherford’s wife, Courtney, replaced him on the board of U.S. Cat Adjusters in 2010. He said in a written statement a few days ago that neither he nor Courtney have received “a single dollar of income” from the company.
According to the speaker, his wife owns 2.8 percent of U.S. Cat Adjusters but he has no role in the company. “This is not my investment,” he said.
And of course the two of them have never ever talked about U.S. Cat’s financial reliance on Citizens, which exists at the whim of the Legislature. They’ve never, ever discussed what would happen to Mrs. Weatherford’s investment if Citizens’ market-share dried up.
In the House, Weatherford has opposed a movement to shrink Citizens by driving policy holders to private insurance firms. However, he did support a new law that might reduce the amount of money paid out by Citizens to firms such as U.S. Cat.
Weatherford said the law doesn’t require him to name the corporations in which his spouse holds an ownership interest. Maybe not, but the fact remains that he’d benefit if her stock shares were sold at a profit.
And, in the case of U.S. Cat, it’s a flagrant conflict of interest.
Even if Floridian’s aren’t sure what work the speaker does to earn paychecks from Breckenridge/Diamond K/T.King Construction and Red Eagle/Simpson Environmental/Whatever, they deserve to know his true stake in companies that do business with the state.
Weatherford’s role in starting U.S. Cat Adjusters wasn’t philanthropic. In return, he undoubtedly expected . . . well, something.