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Atwater, Ausley to Face Off for CFO Position

Atwater, Ausley to Face Off for CFO Position

Republican Senator Jeff Atwater and Democrat Loranne Ausley did not have to await Tuesday’s primaries to know they would be facing off in the race to follow Alex Sink as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.  Although it initially appeared Atwater would have a primary opponent, Atwater’s formidable fundraising and campaigning long ago sealed his place as the Republican party’s nominee for the position.  Atwater seeks the CFO position after most recently serving as head of the Florida Senate.

Loranne Ausley seeks to keep the CFO’s seat in the hands of the Democrats by following current officeholder Alex Sink, also a Democrat.  Ausley is a former state representative from the Tallahassee area.  Despite being a member of the minority party during her time in the legislature, Ausley was a popular local legislator and has been active in the Tallahassee community.

The Chief Financial Officer does not directly regulate insurance companies but nonetheless affects the insurance industry in several ways.  First, the Chief Financial Officer is one of four elected officials comprising the Financial Services Commission.  These four officials collectively determine the hiring and retention of the Insurance Commissioner.  In addition, the Financial Services Commission is responsible for administrative rulemaking for the Office of Insurance Regulation.

The Chief Financial Officer also serves as head of the Department of Financial Services.  This department regulates agents, agencies and other insurance-related licensees, oversees workers’ compensation insurance, and administers the state’s division of rehabilitation and liquidation.  The Department of Financial Services also operates the state’s consumer services function, in which policyholders and other persons affected by the insurance transactions can request the state’s assistance.

Given their influence on insurance matters, all of this year’s Cabinet races are worth watching this fall.  However, the CFO’s race always captures the particular attention of the insurance industry.