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In letter, Kevin McCarty says he’s willing to extend departure date

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Kevin McCarty is telling his bosses: You need more time? You got it.

The state’s outgoing Insurance Commissioner on Wednesday wrote separate but identical letters to Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

He said he would delay his departure to “45 days after my successor is appointed.” The state still hasn’t hired his replacement.

The 56-year-old had announced in January that he was stepping down. He had held the post since 2003 and originally planned to leave on May 2.

“I take this action to honor my commitment to facilitate a smooth transition as the 2016 hurricane season approaches,” he wrote in the letters.

“I remain committed to continuity of leadership for the benefit of the Office of Insurance Regulation and the people of Florida whom I serve.”

McCarty wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon. A request for comment was placed with Scott’s office.

Under state law, Scott and Atwater must first agree on a candidate, who then must be approved by one other Cabinet member. The Office of Insurance Regulation is under the Department of Financial Services, which Atwater heads as CFO.

But Scott and Atwater each favor two different candidates: Retired executive Jeffrey Bragg and state Rep. Bill Hager, a former Iowa insurance commissioner, respectively.

They decided to take more applications for the job after the March 29 Cabinet meeting.

A new deadline for applications was April 15; 12 more contenders applied. They include Michael Bownes, a veteran general counsel for the Alabama Insurance Department. He’s also past head of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection.

The governor’s daily schedule shows that Scott scheduled a 1 p.m. meeting with Hager on Wednesday. The next Cabinet meeting is April 26.

Hager, a Delray Beach Republican, has been vice chair of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. He also runs a small business as an expert witness and insurance arbitrator.

Bragg made a high-profile misstep when Attorney General Pam Bondi asked him an Affordable Care Act question about navigators. They’re application counselors who are supposed to help people get health insurance.

Bragg said he didn’t know to what Bondi was referring.

He’s had senior positions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and mega-insurer Zurich. He also was director of the Federal Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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