By Steve Miller
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
A Florida Center for Investigative Reporting article published Saturday shined a light on state House Speaker Will Weatherford’s ties to a Texas-based insurance adjuster that has a contract with Citizens Property Insurance. As Weatherford was being questioned about the connection, the speaker appointed a new member to the board that oversees the taxpayer-backed insurer.
FCIR first reached out to Weatherford on July 1, asking to speak to him about his connection to several companies, including Breckenridge/Diamond K in Texas. His office initially issued no response to several inquiries.
When asked about the connection last week by the Tampa Bay Times, Weatherford responded by email which stated that he and his wife, Courtney, have never “received a single dollar of income” from the company.
As the story chronicled, Weatherford’s wife, Courtney, is a board member at U.S. Cat Adjusters, which has done $826,676 worth of business with Citizens as a private adjuster. Will Weatherford was a board member until 2010, and he gave no explanation for the switch of board memberships between his wife and himself. He was also within his bounds to not disclose the link to the state contractor, as current ethics laws do not require it.
Weatherford’s office issued an announcement Aug. 2 that the speaker had appointed a new member to the board that oversees Citizens, former State Representative Gary Aubuchon.
The release from Weatherford’s office quoted the speaker as saying:
“Gary has a distinguished record of public service and has worked to solve many important challenges to our state. He is an outstanding servant leader and has many years of private sector business experience in the building and real estate industries, making him eminently qualified for this position. I believe he will inject the kind of perspective that will build public confidence in the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.”
The release made no mention of the questions Weatherford faced about his connection to Citizens.