TALLAHASSEE --The search for an internal watchdog at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was narrowed from 88 applicants to 13 candidates on Tuesday.
One of the candidates, Hector Collazo Jr., is inspector general with the Pinellas County Clerk of Circuit Court and a former law enforcement officer.
The list should be trimmed to the finalists by September, as the remaining candidates will be asked to appear for interviews with a three-member selection committee - headed by Gov. Rick Scott's Inspector General Melinda Miguel - the week of Aug. 5.
A short list following the interviews will go to the state Financial Services Commission --- made up of Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam --- for a final selection.
"The Financial Services Commission is the one that hires and fires this position," Miguel said. "So I'd like to come up with two or three solid candidates that clear the background and can go forward for consideration."
The position, advertised as offering a competitive salary up to $200,000, was part of a new insurance law Scott signed May 29.
The salary would be paid by Citizens.
The position was sought because of concerns expressed by Scott and others about travel spending by Citizens employees and the firing of the state-backed agency's Office of Corporate Integrity.
Aside from Collazo, the others who will be invited for interviews are:
--- Neftali Carrasquillo Jr.: Texas Department of Insurance, fraud unit associate commissioner.
--- Robert Cerasoli: Enhanced protection specialist with MSA Security, New York, also a former inspector general for New Orleans.
--- Charles Faircloth: Executive director and chief of staff, Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Strike Force, Department of Financial Services.
--- Lester Fernandez: Deputy assistant inspector general for inspections, U.S. Department of Education.
--- John Grayson: CPA, with Grayson Accounting and Consulting, Tallahassee.
--- Christopher Hirst: Florida Department of Children and Families inspector general.
--- R. David Holmgren: Deputy inspector general for inspections and evaluations at the U.S Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
--- Robert McNichols: Chief audit executive, SantaFe Healthcare, Gainesville.
--- Bruce Meeks: attorney, Law Offices of Roberts & Meeks, Tallahassee.
--- Thomas Raftery: Inspector general, Delaware River Port Authority, Camden, New Jersey.
--- Peter Williams: former inspector general for the Florida Department of Education, 2012 candidate for State Attorney in the 2nd Judicial Circuit.
--- Richard Woodford: Director, Office of National Talent Pool and Training, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.