Loophole causes Citizens Property Insurance ethics problem

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An ethics law loophole has allowed high-ranking executives at state-run Citizens Property Insurance to quickly go to work for the company only months after awarding them million-dollar contracts. Critics are now demanding the loophole be closed.

Integrity Florida sent an official letter Monday to Citizens Inspector General Bruce Meeks, calling for an official review.

It's a scene that's played out far too often for Citizens Property Insurance -- a high ranking-executive bolts to work for a company that was just awarded a multimillion-dollar contract.

"The state ethics code had too many loopholes," said Dan Krassner, with Government watchdog Integrity Florida.

Krassner said one of those loopholes allows for senior executives to skirt the law bans other state employees from working for a company they've done business with for two years.

"The inspector general should launch a full investigation into these cozy relationships, the revolving door that these executives have with the companies they regulate."

Citizens Property Insurance says their employees haven't done anything wrong.

Spokesman Michael Peltier said that senior executives that have left -- some as recently as January -- didn't have a direct relationship with the contracts being handled.

"Those contracts were awarded through our normal procedures, a team of evaluators (and) a team of negotiators," Peltier said. "The employees in question were not involved in those groups."

The revolving door has prompted state Sen. David Simmons (party-city) -- the head of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee -- to call for a tightening up of ethics laws.

"We're trying to make sure there's a full and complete application of Florida's ethics laws in Citizens," Simmons said.

Citizens representatives said they're not sure yet whether their inspector general will be looking into the claims.

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