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Scott, Cabinet eye short list for financial regulator

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Five of the 34 applicants to become Florida’s top financial regulator, including state Rep. Jay Fant, will be considered for the post by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet during a meeting Wednesday.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis proposed consideration of Fant, a Jacksonville Republican, and two other candidates Patronis interviewed last week: banking lobbyist Scott Jenkins and Linda Charity, a former official with the state Office of Financial Regulation.

Two additional applicants with years of regulatory experience --- William Jannace and Kevin Rosen --- were advanced for consideration by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who serves on the Cabinet, didn’t forward any names on Tuesday. Putnam spokesman Aaron Keller said Monday the commissioner is waiting for Wednesday’s teleconference meeting for any interviews.

The process stems from the May 31 announcement by Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear that he would step down at the end of June. Breakspear had been under pressure from Patronis to leave the $135,158-a year post.

It will be up to Scott and the Cabinet to decide if they appoint an interim replacement or quickly name a permanent commissioner

“I know we have to have someone in before the 30th,” Scott Cabinet aide Kristin Olson said Tuesday.

Scott and the Cabinet, sitting as the Financial Services Commission, provide oversight and manage the leadership of the Office of Financial Regulation, which oversees banks and other lending businesses.

Patronis office had said he received numerous calls for a new top regulator from mortgage and security industry leaders who had clashed with the agency. In announcing his push to remove Breakspear on May 3, Patronis pointed to a “lack of cooperation, responsiveness, and communication” from Breakspear’s office. Breakspear disputed the claims.

Any permanent replacement will face a new governor and Cabinet in 2019, as all four positions are up for election in November.

Patronis is running for re-election as CFO, and Putnam is seeking the governor’s office. Scott is running for U.S. Senate. Bondi is term-limited and not seeking another office.

Fant, who oversaw the final years of a family-owned bank that went out of business after the recession, abandoned a campaign for attorney general to apply for the financial regulator job.

Charity twice served as the agency’s interim commissioner. Charity, who contributed $100 to Patronis’ campaign on May 31, works as a financial institutions policy adviser at the Jones Walker law firm.

Jenkins, who has worked as a lobbyist for the Florida Bankers Association, currently is the chief lobbyist for Wells Fargo in Tallahassee.

Jannace, of Bayside, N.Y., has worked nearly 30 years in the securities industry at the American and New York stock exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, (FINRA), which is a private, self-regulatory organization.

Rosen is a partner with Shutts & Bowen in West Palm Beach. He practices law in securities and financial regulation and spent 16 years with FINRA as a senior regional counsel. He worked as a senior attorney for the Florida Department of Banking and Finance from 1995 to 1998 before joining a private law firm.

Jannace and Rosen were among the last candidates to submit resumes before last Friday’s deadline.