Entire ordinance must be re-written
TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Circuit Court Judge has issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement of Hillsborough County's Personal Injury Protection fraud ordinance. Following ethical questions related to the passage of the ordinance, the court sided with a group of doctors who allege the ordinance is unconstitutional due to an inconsistency between a "state allowance of business activity and a county disallowance of the same activity."
The law, known as "PIP Ordinance 11-13," was passed in order to fight a rising tide of fake-accidents and fraudulent activity. Its constitutionality has been called into question, in part due to an alleged deal cut at the last-minute by County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. The final draft exempted one well-known company through an intricate web of regulations. In 2011, that company, 1-800-ASK-GARY, was under investigation by both the FBI and Florida's Division of Insurance Fraud, according to Bloomberg News and the Tampa Bay Times (Dave Armstrong, Tampa Bay Times, November 10, 2011).
More recently, press reports revealed that the county attorney's office sent emails to a lobbyist for 1-800-ASK-GARY seeking approval of the language before it was added to the PIP ordinance (Mike Salinero, Tampa Tribune, October 20). Amid rumors of yet another federal investigation, the campaign of County Commission Candidate Margaret Iuculano contacted the Tampa office of the FBI. The campaign was advised via email by Special Agent Dave Couvertier that "The FBI does not typically confirm or deny investigations."
Iuculano has been critical of Beckner's role in the PIP process. "I'm baffled that donors who appeared on Kevin Beckner's campaign finance report were allowed to write and then approve their own exemption through a lobbyist. Such emails have been reported by the news media, so if it's not already being investigated by the proper authorities, then it should be."
Dennis Russo of the National Insurance Crime Bureau told the Tampa Tribune's Mike Salinero in October that his group did not support Beckner's last-minute lobbyist deal: "We didn't support that being in there," he said. (Mike Salinero, Tampa Tribune, October 20). Now, with a Circuit Court injunction, an otherwise effective local ordinance to reduce insurance fraud has been rendered useless. The only beneficiaries of Beckner's leadership on Personal Injury Protection appear to be the companies receiving backroom lobbyist exemptions and the Commissioner's own campaign treasury.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Margaret Iuculano, Republican, for Hillsborough County Commission, District 6
SOURCE Margaret Iuculano For County Commissioner, District 6