Rick Scott v. Kevin McCarty

Kevin McCarty found out he was losing his job while at a beachfront hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., clear across the country from the insurance department he had led for the past decade.

McCarty, a 23-year veteran of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and its commissioner for the last 11 years, had just traveled to California for an annual gathering of the NAIC. State insurance commissioners meet every January to decide who will lead the organization’s committees, and for 2015, McCarty was set to become chair of its high-profile International Insurance Relations Committee. Widely recognized as one of the NAIC’s top experts on global insurance issues, he had already spent 2014 as the group’s vice chair and as a U.S. representative to the executive committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.

But McCarty’s promotion within the NAIC came just as trouble was stirring back home. Rumors swirled around the Florida capital that Gov. Rick Scott planned to overhaul a few state agencies early in his second term, industry lobbyists told SNL. State Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey had already resigned a month earlier, and more personnel changes were expected in the coming weeks.

Then one day in January, McCarty was told to expect a call from the governor’s chief of staff, Melissa Sellers. He was warned that the call would not go well, according to a person familiar with the conversation, who requested anonymity because the exchange was private.

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