Gov. Crist Defends Fla. Insurance Commissioner; Prosecutor Fired

April 26, 2007

Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist has come to the defense of the state’s insurance commissioner who hosted a fund raiser for a circuit judge candidate, who has since dropped out of the race and lost her job as a prosecutor.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink last week rebuked Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty after he admitted seeking contributions from the industry he regulates on behalf of then-judicial candidate Robin Lotane. Sink’s inspector general also is investigating whether McCarty used state equipment for political purposes.

Crist, though, downplayed the complaints against McCarty, linking them to the commissioner’s efforts to cut insurance rates.

“What he did wasn’t right, but I don’t think it’s a death-sentence thing,” Crist said Monday. “Listen, we’re fighting an industry here that is tenacious. When I say it, I’m not kidding around. They are.”

McCarty works for Crist and the three-member state Cabinet, including Sink who said insurance representatives have complained McCarty has pressured them to make contributions to Lotane and his annual March of Dimes campaign.

State Attorney Willie Meggs fired Lotane on Monday from his staff and she dropped out of the judge’s race.

She is married to Bob Lotane, who resigned as McCarty’s communications director last week after admitting he used a state computer to do work for his wife’s campaign.

Meggs declined to say why he fired Robin Lotane, who had been suspended with pay last week pending an investigation of the fundraiser.

Robin Lotane said she had planned to resign, anyway, because she believes Meggs had unfairly criticized her for her decision to prosecute a Tallahassee businessman on a second-degree murder charge in the death of his wife. Meggs said the evidence did not support the charge and he dropped it.

Information from: Tallahassee Democrat,

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