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Former Abbott Deputy Named Insurance Commissioner

A deputy from former Attorney General Greg Abbott's office will be running the Texas Department of Insurance, Gov. Rick Perry's office announced Monday. But he appears to just be a temporary replacement for outgoing Commissioner Julia Rathgeber.

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A deputy from former Attorney General Greg Abbott's office will be running the Texas Department of Insurance, Gov. Rick Perry's office announced Monday. 

David Mattax worked on defense and financial litigation at the attorney general's office. But he appears to just be a temporary replacement for outgoing Commissioner Julia Rathgeber, whom Perry appointed to the post in May 2013. 

It's one of the more unusual shuffles of state government posts as a slate of new Texas leaders takes office. Rathgeber is joining Gov.-elect Abbott's staff during the legislative session — where he can utilize her expertise as a former deputy chief of staff for outgoing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — but she plans to return to her old post in the summer, the Austin American-Statesman reported last week. 

"The Abbott transition team has been very kind about my request to return to the Department of Insurance and has assured me that I will be able to return to TDI next summer," Rathgeber wrote in a December announcement to her employees, according to the Statesman

The Texas Department of Insurance, which spent $152 million in fiscal year 2014, deals with everything from the rules of implementing Obamacare to running the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, a public-private agency that serves as the "insurer of last resort" for coastal homeowners.

While Mattax is running the agency, Rathgeber could potentially work on legislation dealing with TDI that she would later handle when she returns to lead the agency. Lawmakers have long called for reforms to TWIA, which likely doesn't have enough reserves to pay out claims if another big storm hits Texas. And Rathgeber's former boss, Dewhurst, asked the Senate Business and Commerce Committee last fall "to consider options to address TWIA, which could include phasing it out."  

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