David Richardson: Auditor of 30 Years Trying to Make Citizens Insurance More Accountable
Around the State
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Residence: Miami Beach
Education: University of Tampa, Master of Business Administration
Occupation: Certified public accountant/consultant
Previous Public Office: None
Did you know? He's been told, but has not yet verified, that a great-uncle once ran for lieutenant governor of Texas.
For David Richardson, service in the Florida House of Representatives is more than just his full-time job; it's recompense to the state and community which has given him so much.
“I've made no secret of this: my family was challenged economically as I was growing up,” the newly-elected Miami Beach Democrat tells Sunshine State News. “And I've certainly enjoyed a good deal of success through hard work and education. This is my way of giving back.”
Richardson's 30-year career as an auditor and consultant to both the public and private sectors has certainly been fruitful. His career started at the Defense Contract Audit Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, and later he joined Ernst & Young before going on to found his own practice. In that time, he's established himself as an expert in forensic accounting -- i.e., the analysis of financial information, to detect fraud or embezzlement, for use in legal proceedings.
These accomplishments notwithstanding, he's perhaps better known (both statewide and nationally), for making history when he became Florida's first openly gay legislator after winning his open primary last August. (He was soon followed by fellow freshman Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, who won District 49's general election three months later.)
Richardson acknowledges the milestone, even as he plays it down.
“During my campaign I did not run as a 'gay candidate,' and I'm not going to be a 'gay legislator,'” he explains. “My status as a gay man did not even come up during my campaign even though it was widely reported in the press. For me, this just isn't an issue.”
Though he's firmly committed to the promotion of “LGBT rights” – he says it is “absolutely unconscionable” that private business owners are legally permitted to fire people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity – he insists he's committed to representing the best interests of all of his District 113 constituents, and of the state of Florida, and wishes to avoid being stereotyped or caricatured.
“I think very quickly I'm being recognized as a person who is known for his business and finance experience,” he says. “My background gives me the ability to look at budgets and to ask measured and reasoned questions about issues and to understand the details.”
Given that background, it comes as no surprise that he's taken a lead in the House in advocating greater scrutiny for Citizens Property Insurance, the state's taxpayer-subsidized home insurance provider for those living in high-risk areas. Richardson's HB 433 (“Agency Inspectors General”) redefines the term “state agency” in the Florida Statutes so as to include Citizens. The revision would require the president and CEO of the corporation to establish an inspector general's office. Three of the measure's five co-sponsors are Republicans.
Richardson tells SSN he'd eventually like to revise the law even further; right now, state agency heads are the ones tasked with appointing their own inspectors general. He would eventually like to assign that responsibility to the board of governors.
His second bill, HB 63 (“Carbon Monoxide Alarms”), would require K-12 public schools to install carbon monoxide alarms. He says the law is needed in light of some recent tragedies suffered by students at the hands of defective appliances and machinery on school campus.
These are the only pieces of legislation Richardson has filed so far, though he says more might be forthcoming. He's “extremely concerned” about certain allegations of abuse coming out of certain religiously-affiliated charities that care for young people – in particular, those age 14 to 18 – without licensure. State laws exempt these faith-based organizations from having to comply with licensing requirements if they do not directly receive state funds. He's presently researching to see if there are ways the state can provide protection to these young people without passage of a new bill.
He is also studying the ramifications of changes the Legislature made last year in the way Medicaid reimburses health care centers for their treatment of indigent patients. Under the older per diem system, hospitals were paid a set amount for each day they treated a patient; under the new Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRG) model, hospitals are paid different rates depending on the condition treated.
“I want to make sure that the new system will result in equity for everyone,” he says.
As a member of the minority party, in a body that will be GOP-dominated for the foreseeable future, Richardson knows he will have to work extra hard to get his ideas a fair and successful hearing, but his experiences in the course of recent weeks' committee meetings have left him optimistic.
“I have been completely welcomed in Tallahassee, embraced by members of both parties who share my concerns,” he relates. “Not one person has closed their door to me for being a freshman or the first openly gay elected legislator, and I'm really appreciative of that.”
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (954) 235-9116.