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Fla. insurance commissioner apologizes


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has written a letter of apology to his four bosses on the Financial Services Commission for his involvement in fundraising activities that allegedly included soliciting the insurance industry that he regulates.

Mr. McCarty, who is appointed by the four elected members of the commission, participated in fundraising activities on behalf of a judicial candidate for the Leon County, Fla., Circuit Court, Robin Lotane.

Ms. Lotane's husband, Bob, resigned last week as communications director of Mr. McCarty's office following a report alleging that a state computer was used to prepare invitations for Ms. Lotane's fundraiser.

Florida law bars state resources from being used for political purposes.

FSC member Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, criticized Mr. McCarty for hosting a political fundraiser, which she considered "unsuitable" and possibly illegal, according to a statement.

Ms. Sink as well as Mr. McCarty asked for an inspector general investigation into the alleged misuse of state property.

In a letter sent last Friday, Mr. McCarty expressed a "heartfelt apology" for his actions.

He said he will discontinue any involvement in the Robin Lotane campaign as well as any future involvement in campaigns. He also resigned from the state board of the March of Dimes, although he plans to continue volunteering as an individual, he said.

"In retrospect, I agree being involved in any effort to advance a personal or political cause may be misperceived and problematic regardless of its legality. While such participation may be legal, it may appear to compromise the integrity of the Office of Insurance Regulation," he wrote.

"It is paramount that the intent of the people of this state to separate this high office from the perception of influence or political involvement should not be compromised," Mr. McCarty wrote.

The letter also was sent to the three other commission members: Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson.