Two months after contributing $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign, an upstart property insurance company is likely to reap a $52 million windfall, paid from the coffers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.Here's the deal. Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is a state-run Florida insurance company. Because Florida has hit a lucky streak over the last years and not had as much hurricane damage as they had feared, they're sitting on a cash surplus of $6.4 billion dollars. But that surplus could go away if a devastating hurricane season does hit, and (shudder) there's even the possibility that a future bad hurricane could force the state to raise taxes to pay for the damage, so the governing state Republicans have a great plan to deal with that: They'll pay private companies to take profitable policies off their hands. (The premise is that this will mitigate possible losses later, presumably because if any of these smaller, privatized insurance companies were to later fail the state would tell disaster victims that were clients of those smaller firms to piss off.)
In this particular case, that has led to that not-too-unique special business flower: A new company apparently formed specifically to go after a single government contract and reap the rewards, and whose bid for the free government money consists in large part of investing in politicians:
Sitting on a record cash surplus of $6.4 billion, Citizens is hoping to sign a special deal today with Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co., a St. Petersburg firm that opened nine months ago and has made significant political contributions.A nine-month-old company that's donated $140,000 to Rick Scott and the Republican Party, and which is now suddenly in line for $52 million in government money? Wow. That's not at all crooked-sounding. Note, especially, that Heritage donated its first $30,000 to the Florida GOP only two months after the company was founded—and the other $110,000 to Rick Scott just two months ago, while Heritage was in the midst of lobbying Scott and state legislators for the contract.
Heritage has donated more than $140,000 to Scott and the Republican Party of Florida in recent months, and spent tens of thousands more lobbying the Legislature.
This isn't even a one-time thing:
It's the second time this year Citizens is looking to subsidize an upstart private insurer using its massive surplus, which has been built up over seven years as the state has dodged hurricanes. In February, Citizens' board approved a deal with Weston Insurance, agreeing to pay the young company $63 million to take out 30,000 policies. Weston has spent more than $250,000 on lobbying this year, and two of Citizens' seven board members abstained from voting because of conflicts of interest.There's even more sketchiness to all this, including an apparent government-to-private-sector revolving door racket by one of the participants. If nobody ends up in jail because of this then it's Florida's own fault. You elect crooks to write your laws, they're going to write crooked laws.