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Interviews start for insurance, revenue chiefs

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Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members aren't waiting for a short list to start interviewing candidates to fill the soon-to-be-vacant top spots at the state Office of Insurance Regulation and the Department of Revenue.

The governor held telephone interviews Monday with two of the 110 applicants to become executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue and two of the 55 seeking to become insurance commissioner.

Lauren Schenone, a spokeswoman for Scott, acknowledged that additional interviews are scheduled through the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has posted four interviews for the insurance job on his schedule for Tuesday, each with a current employee of the state insurance office --- Chief of Staff Belinda Miller, Chief Actuary Eric Johnson and deputy commissioners Rich Robleto and David Altmaier.

"Additional interviews with external candidates are scheduled for Wednesday," Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr said in an email.

Jennifer Meale, spokeswoman for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, said Monday only that applications are being reviewed.

Cabinet aides are expected Wednesday to whittle the list of candidates for the insurance commissioner's job, which is advertised at paying up to $200,000 a year, and the revenue director's post, worth up to $150,000 a year.

Scott and the Cabinet are expected to discuss the vacancies March 29. Unlike many other state agencies that are only under the governor, the Office of Insurance Regulation and the Department of Revenue are under Scott and the Cabinet.

Department of Revenue Executive Director Marshall Stranburg will exit April 1 for a job in Washington. Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who has occupied his post since the office was created in 2003, announced in January that he would leave May 2 to explore "other career opportunities."

Those who interviewed with Scott for the Department of Revenue on Monday were Leon Biegalski, who is deputy secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and Robert McKee, chief economist at the Department of Revenue.

Scott also talked to Altmaier and Jeffrey Bragg, who worked from 2003 to 2014 as executive director of the U.S. Department of Treasury's Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, about the insurance commissioner post.

Former Nevada Commissioner of Insurance Scott Kipper, who now works as a vice president of state affairs for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, was initially on Scott's schedule but was not interviewed Monday. The governor's office didn't offer a reason for the change.

Others who have applied to replace McCarty, include state Rep. Bill Hager, a Delray Beach Republican who previously served as Iowa's insurance commissioner and John Rollins, a former member of the Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors who is now that agency's chief risk officer.