ORLANDO, Fla. - Following the most severe storms, Floridians who can't secure private insurance rely on the state-run
But right now, as 9 Investigates' George Spencer reports, Citizens is enduring its own fierce storm. Spencer reviewed documents detailing an internal investigation at Citizens that exposed claims of sexual misconduct, favoritism, huge exit payouts and lies among its top leaders.
"Plain and simple, the taxpayers are being robbed yet again," said local community organizer and activist Mike Cantone. "Not just of our tax dollars
but of the public trust and oversight we expect."
Cantone said that as shocking as the allegations are on their own, there's an even bigger bombshell: Citizens fired those internal investigators last month and closed their office.
"I think the timing is very telling," Cantone said. "I think it's absurd."
The allegations originated with an anonymous complaint.
Auditors eventually discovered a chief administrative officer served as a legal advisor for years even though she was not licensed.
And then, the auditors found
incriminating documents had been altered. Favoritism and improper oversight were found to be common. In one case, Citizens paid $79,000 in severance to an executive accused of sexual harassment and of having an affair with an employee, the investigation determined.
Spencer reports that it's not just Citizens Insurance homeowners who are affected by mismanagement. It is their neighbors, and for that matter, all Floridians.
Citizens is taxpayer-backed, and even customers who don't have Citizens coverage pay assessments to cover old storm damage.
Citizens maintains that the internal auditors were terminated during restructuring to strengthen fraud detection.
But even Gov. Rick Scott recently wrote, "In light of this report, the timing of these firings raises new concerns."
Scott has asked his chief inspector general to review policies and safeguards at the very company intended to safeguard Floridians.