This story by Becky Mowbray in the Times-Picayune paints an even bleaker picture of an organization that, it has been apparent for some months, was mismanaged and out of control. But now, the state’s audit of Louisiana Citizens Property makes it look like some kind of kleptocracy. Here’s the story’s lede:
A long-awaited audit report on the troubled Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. found evidence of fraud and abuse on Monday by the state-sponsored insurer of last resort, which did not have enough money to pay claims after Hurricane Katrina.
The special investigation by Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot found that Citizens and related entities spent more than $1 million between 2004 and 2006 on travel, meals and entertainment even though Citizens isn’t supposed to be recruiting business as an insurer of last resort.
Here is the audit’s overview of what was wrong:
The report details golf outings, fishing excursions, quail hunts, football tickets, gifts, airline tickets, hotel rooms and trips to Bermuda, New York and the beach in Alabama that were billed to the public through Citizens, the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana and Louisiana Automobile Insurance Plan.
It also describes improper bonuses and severance packages, and hiring family members and lobbyists.
These alleged abuses are laid out in hilarious detail. My favorite: the director helped his cheerleader daughter meet a fundraising goal of selling 200 minor league baseball tickets by using Citizens money to buy 100 of them. Who among us doesn’t hate having to lean on co-workers or neighbors to buy those lousy fundraising products schools dish out? I mean, we could just contribute the dough ourselves, but that would be — gulp — costly. So I like to see someone come up with a creative solution — make the taxpayers buy ’em, then the kid doesn’t have to stress out over hawking some turkey of a product like a small roll of Christmas wrapping paper for $12, when you can buy three huge rolls at Target for $4.99. And you don’t have to worry about getting the skunk eye from co-workers when you show up at their door with your clipboard-carrying kid (best tactic, by the way, one that will make you hated for all eternity, always do this to folks lower in the pecking order than you — nothing says "no class" like extorting money from people who make less than you do).
Read the whole story, it’s a good one.