Citizens’ chief defends foreign travel and draws heat from Scott

Summoned before Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet Tuesday, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. president Barry Gilway defended the state-backed insurer’s foreign travel.

Scott called for a prohibition on foreign travel by Citizens executives after a series of abuses two years ago. The controversy flared anew after a report inThe Palm Beach Post that Citizens board chairman Chris Gardner spent two nights in a $425-a-night resort in Bermuda at a conference with reinsurance investors in April, despite a $373-per-night cap on Bermuda travel.

After the Post’s disclosure, Gardner reimbursed Citizens for the difference in rates of $104 for the two nights. Citizens officials claim the company first discovered the overcharge.

Gilway said he urged Gardner, an unpaid volunteer, to attend the Bermuda conference at the last minute, and that as a result of the trip and all other foreign travel by Citizens executives that cost a total of $48,000, savings to Florida taxpayers totaled $233 million.

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