Kevin McCarty quits as state’s insurance commissioner

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Gov. Rick Scott got a belated Christmas gift on Tuesday with the not-entirely-unexpected resignation of Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

Scott’s communication director Jackie Schutz confirmed McCarty’s leaving, saying, “We appreciate his service to the state and we wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor.”

It’s not clear where McCarty is going next; he’s been in his position since 2003.

In a resignation letter to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, McCarty said he was leaving as of May 2 to pursue “other career opportunities.” McCarty also reports to Atwater.

The 56-year-old McCarty often took the blame for rising insurance rates in the state, especially when homeowners discovered they would have to pay more in premiums.

“Kevin McCarty has long served the people of Florida with the utmost integrity,” Atwater said in a statement. “Throughout his years of service, he’s propelled and ushered in reforms across multiple facets of the industry including workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, health, and auto.

“He helped navigate consumers and the industry through the hardships and tumultuous effects of natural disaster, and his peers recognized his service and commitment by asking him to serve on a national level as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,” Atwater added. “I thank him for his years of dedicated service and wish him the best in all future endeavors.”

The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation also released a list of McCarty’s accomplishments during his tenure.

With McCarty’s departure, that makes two people Scott can check off from his unofficial “cut list.”

Marshall Stranburg, executive director of the state’s Department of Revenue, told his employees last month that he was quitting to take a position in Washington.

The final agency head in Scott’s cross hairs is Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear.

Ironically, McCarty just had won the “Insurance Man of the Year” award from the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies, chosen “in recognition of his many years of service and contributions to the insurance industry.”

For months, McCarty has told reporters he had no intention of leaving his job — unless he got another offer he couldn’t refuse.

“I’m planning on doing my job, for the time being,” McCarty said after an October cabinet meeting. “ … If there was an opportunity that came up, I would entertain that opportunity, but I truly believe I have the best job in the world.”

McCarty and Scott had met privately in an “off book” meeting, that is, one that wasn’t listed on the governor’s daily schedule. Neither side has since commented on what was discussed.

Scott first sought to get rid of McCarty after being pressured by a prominent insurance lobbyist, one among Scott’s top fundraising bundlers.

Other reports had Scott’s office asking Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson to interview for McCarty’s job weeks before the governor admitted he was looking for “new leadership” at OIR.

McCarty resignation letter

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.