Citizens Property Insurance fires watchdog group investigating employees suspected of fraud, theft

Reports of lavish spending were being investigated

A newly released report by the Citizens Audit Committee shows the insurer dismantled its Office of Corporate Integrity amid 42 open investigations.  

The four member watchdog group was investigating employees accused of theft, fraud and misbehavior.

"We wonder, were the watchdogs doing their jobs too well?" said Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida.

Krassner questions why the investigators were let go.  

The watchdogs were investigating a female manager accused of taking off her clothes at a company event in Tampa, wasteful spending on business trips and huge severance packages for employees who quit in disgrace.  
 
"There have been reports of lavish spending, travel and hotel expenditures and partying in Ybor City and Key West on the policyholders' dime," said Krassner.

News of the open investigations made it to the state legislature Tuesday, as members met in organizational session.  

"Whistleblowers shouldn't be the people who get it trouble.  It should be the people who cause the trouble," said Senate President Don Gaetz.

Governor Rick Scott ordered an investigation into the layoffs. In a letter to the Chief Inspector General Scott writes "The people of Florida are entitled to accountability and transparency within every aspect of our government."  

Representative Mike Fasano says it's a good start. "I'm encouraged that the governor has asked for an investigation into it, but it has to go beyond that.  Citizens has to be transparent."

Citizens says it let the investigators go to make room for more auditors to track down insurance fraud. The company's president welcomes the investigation.

And Citizens President Barry Gilway actually asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to investigate in an attempt to thwart some of the bad publicity.

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