Patronis' office provides more details on regulator move

AP Photo/Phil Sears (Associated Press)

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ office gave more information Tuesday about why he wants Gov. Rick Scott and the rest of the Florida Cabinet to discuss the future of the state’s top financial regulator.

The Florida Politics website reported that Patronis’ problems with Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear arose after one of Breakspear’s deputies did not take punitive action following a sexual-harassment allegation involving employees of the agency.

No reason was given for the deputy declining to take action. Patronis spokeswoman Anna Alexopoulos Farrar said in an email to The News Service of Florida that that incident is among the issues that caused Patronis to announce on May 3 he’d lost confidence in Breakspear.

“OFR leadership has failed to do the most basic job of serving Floridians well,” Alexopoulos Farrar said. “Commissioner Breakspear has proven an unwillingness to be proactive on emerging trends and technology in the financial services industry.

There have been numerous occasions where OFR has blatantly refused to meet with DFS (Department of Financial Services) staff on important issues relating to the office’s mission.”

On May 3, Patronis advised Breakspear of concerns about a “lack of cooperation, responsiveness, and communication from your office in its dealings with your customers and Florida’s financial services community.”

In questioning a “lack of leadership at the top,” Patronis didn’t detail the reasons.

Breakspear asked for a meeting with Patronis, but the Cabinet member rejected the request.

“I do not want you to serve, deliberately or inadvertently, as a conduit with another member of the commission prior to the Cabinet meeting,” Patronis said in an email to Breakspear. “In order to ensure a transparent process conducted in the sunshine, I will discuss my concerns during your assessment review.”

Patronis sought to address the issues at a May 15 Cabinet meeting, which was later canceled as Scott and Cabinet members attended the funeral of Highlands County Deputy William Gentry.

Breakspear’s future is now expected to be addressed June 13.