Call for insurance commissioner’s resignation gets little attention
By I.M. STACKEL
Originally published 5:24 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2009
Updated 5:24 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2009
Sen. Mike Bennett’s outrage has been heard, but there’s no promise of immediate gubernatorial action.
Last week, Bennett, R-Bradenton, called for the resignation — or discharge — of state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. According to Bennett, McCarty asked Gov. Charlie Crist to veto House Bill 1171, which is known as the consumer’s choice bill.
In a five-page letter to McCarty — copied to Crist — Bennett told McCarty that he no longer trusts the word of the insurance commissioner for lobbying against the bill when it had overwhelming support from the House and Senate.
With the except of Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, local legislators shied away from the political firestorm.
“I voted for it,” Hudson said, adding that he looked around the House and noticed a few people voting against it.
Hudson shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said when asked why the few House reps voted against it.
A day before Bennett’s declaration, Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, told members of The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce that the insurance legislation had widespread support and represents a welcome step toward stimulating new free-market competition in the state’s dismal homeowners’ insurance market.
The House passed it on a 105-13 vote, while it passed the Senate on a vote of 27-9.
The legislation was pitched to give Florida’s consumers the option of purchasing their homeowners’ insurance from among a narrowly-defined group of large, well-known, and financially solvent private property insurers. The choice is entirely up to the consumers, said Bennett, who is now in Italy. If a consumer doesn’t want to buy such a policy, he or she is free to retain existing homeowners’ coverage or shop elsewhere including obtaining a policy from the many private property insurers whose rates are regulated by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, said Bennett in his letter to McCarty and Crist.
Friday, Crist’s press secretary Sterling Ivey, said Crist is aware of Bennett’s letter and is currently reviewing it.
“We are still reviewing the specific legislation and, as of right now, the Governor has not decided what action he will take,” said Ivey.
McCarty has acted with dishonesty in dealing with him and the Legislature and should resign his position, according to Bennett.