State Politics

Inspector General: former Citizens executives did not violate ethics rules

Barry Gilway, President/CEO and Executive Director of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Barry Gilway, President/CEO and Executive Director of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Photo Courtesy of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. inspector general found no improprieties in how three former executives left for employment with private firms that have ties to the state-backed insurer.

However, Inspector General Bruce Meeks’ findings note the state code of ethics applies to fewer managers at Citizens than at other state agencies. And Meeks recommended the insurer should consider clarifying parts of its ethics code, expand post-employment restrictions at the management level and include post-employment rules as part of ethics training for leadership.

“Post-employment restrictions are equally stringent and, in fact, are one and the same for Citizens senior managers and others subject to the state ethics code,” Meeks wrote in his report dated Aug. 31 and released Thursday. “The significant difference is that only Citizens senior managers are subject to the restrictions while a far larger number of public employees are subject to the post-employment restrictions in the state ethics code.”

Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway said in a release he will review the recommendations. If changes are needed, Gilway will present them to the agency’s Board of Governors in December.

“The bottom line is that we expect all our employees, especially our senior executives, to uphold the highest ethical standards and I’m pleased that the inspector general’s report concludes we are doing just that,” Gilway said.

Meeks was directed to undertake his study in June after a report by the Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau questioned the actions of three former Citizens executives who had overseen multimillion-dollar contracts with private companies and then later went to work for the companies.

Meeks cautioned that expanding post-employment restrictions could adversely impact future hiring.

“Potential employees may be reluctant to accept employment with Citizens if they believe their future employment options would be significantly impaired by accepting employment with Citizens,” Meeks wrote.

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