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PARA ACLARAR LAS COSAS

7/24/2019

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Contact: Katie Strickland, 850.413.2842, katie.strickland@myfloridacfo.com
Devin Galetta, 850.413.2842, devin.galetta@myfloridacfo.com
 
PARA ACLARAR LAS COSAS

Today, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) sets the record straight on the misinformation and outrageously false narratives being parroted by Rubin’s associates regarding CFO Jimmy Patronis and the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).

MYTH: Michael Tein Letter to the Florida Cabinet, July 23, 2019, “Contrary to the IG’s conclusions, simply being informal or unpolished or even violating a ‘general civility code’ does not constitute sexual harassment.”

FACT #1: The OFR IG Report, pg. 2, paragraph 2, has found 10 instances of sexual harassment:

1. Showing a candidate for OFR employment a photograph of a woman who had expressed a personal interest in him;
2. Suggesting to a candidate for OFR employment that his parents would pay him money to have a child with someone;
3. Stating to subordinate employees that certain matters could not be discussed in front of women;
4. Asking a subordinate employee to remove their shoes to take a picture with him;
5. Recounting to the same employee the sexual history of a family member;
6. Telling the same employee that his parents stated they were very fertile;
7. Offering the same employee attendance at a conference with him in Washington, DC;
8. Offering the same employee a key to his private residence in Washington, DC;
9. Asking a subordinate employee if their dog watches the employee and their spouse have sex; and
10. Using the “c-word” as a reference to a female in the presence of subordinate employees”
 
FACT #2: Further, the OFR IG Report, pg. 2, paragraph 2, found 13 instances of conduct unbecoming of a public official stating that “Commissioner Rubin violated agency policy prohibiting conduct unbecoming a public employee and misconduct through his:

1. Seeking assistance from subordinate state employees to move his personal belongings;
2. Eliciting and accepting from a subordinate state employee transportation services;
3. Eliciting and accepting from a subordinate state employee the repair of his personally-owned coffee maker;
4. Requesting a subordinate employee, in the presence of other employees, to identify their country of origin, and asking whether the employee ran;
5. Seeking and receiving the use of a subordinate state employee’s personal vehicle, as well as assistance from at least four additional state employees, to move a personally-owned refrigerator from his private property to a state building;
6. Seeking assistance from a subordinate state employee to locate cleaning services for his apartment and personal condominium unit;
7. Telling a subordinate employee that certain names for their child were wrong and/or problematic;
8. Characterizing to a subordinate employee the wearing of bowties with people who are gay, Muslim or like attention;
9. Describing a state employee as “Debbie downer” to another subordinate employee;
10. Telling a candidate for OFR employment that certain people were “rednecks”;
11. Making comments that described subordinate employees as being too old;
12. Seeking and receiving assistance from a subordinate state employee to locate a personal residence; and
13. Residing in housing owned by an immediate family member of his subordinate employee.”

MYTH: Matt Dixon, POLITICO Florida, July 19, 2019: “Documents: Rubin made women ‘uncomfortable’”

FACT: Rubin did far more than make women feel uncomfortable. The OFR IG found 10 instances of sexual harassment noting that he created an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment.

El OFR IG report, pg. 2, paragraph 1, specifically found a “pattern of comments to his subordinate and presumptive employees in both one-on-one and group settings, on topics relating to sex, personal relationships, and the body, notwithstanding the employees’ immediate reaction or Commissioner Rubin’s intended purpose, had the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment in OFR’s Office of Executive Direction. He treated female individuals differently through his requests to and/or comments about women.”

MYTH: Michael Tein Letter to the Florida Cabinet, July 23, 2019, “Any vote to remove Rubin and appoint an interim is premature under the Weidner Settlement...”

FACT: Termination by a vote of the Cabinet can happen without the immediate appointment of an interim or permanent replacement.

FACT: On July 19, 2019 a DFS Cabinet aide sent an email to Governor DeSantis’ Cabinet aide stating, “our general counsel has reviewed the language noticing the OFR inspector General Report regarding Commissioner Rubin and is confident that it allows for the Cabinet to vote on Rubin’s employment. As you are aware, Sunshine Law gives public bodies wide latitude in how to draft agenda items, (see Yarbrough v. Young, 462 So. 2d 515, 517 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).  Thus, the item as listed in the agenda provides reasonable notice and allows the Cabinet to vote on Rubin’s employment.”

MYTH: Michael Tein Letter to the Florida Cabinet, July 23, 2019, says “Rubin is protected from retaliatory firing under Florida’s Whistleblower Act, as the CFO did not call for his termination until after Rubin had complained about the CFO’s misconduct.” 

FACT: According to the OFR IG Report proof analysis, “On May 10, 2019, the OIG received notification of a complaint filed with the DFS alleging sexual harassment against OFR Commissioner Ronald L. Rubin (Commissioner Rubin).”

FACT: On May 17, 2019, a OFR IG preliminary report was delivered to DFS Chief of Staff (and Chiefs of Staff for other Cabinet offices). On May 26, 2019 CFO Patronis was briefed on the OFR IG preliminary report.

FACT: On May 29, 2019, CFO Patronis called for Mr. Ronald Rubin’s resignation and also said he would terminate Mr. Rubin on his own if possible, “After a briefing of the Inspector General’s preliminary findings of the recent allegations against Mr. Rubin and reviewing newly-published news reports including those of sexual harassment allegations at his previous job, I am requesting that he immediately resign the position of Commissioner for the Office of Financial Regulation. If I could remove Mr. Rubin from office myself, I would. But, this is a Cabinet-appointed position that would require Cabinet action.”

MYTH: Michael Tein Letter to the Florida Cabinet, July 23, 2019, says, “The CFO must recuse himself from voting on this matter in light of his personal stake in the outcome...”
 
FACT: Mr. Ronald Rubin’s claims are false and outrageous. Per Florida Statute, the appointment or removal of the OFR Commissioner requires a majority vote with both the Governor and the CFO on the prevailing side of the vote. [F.S. 20.121(3)(d)]. Rubin’s request for recusal is a thinly veiled attempt to freeze the Cabinet from acting to address Rubin’s outrageous behavior.

MYTH: Michael Tein Letter to the Florida Cabinet, July 23, 2019, “Commissioner Rubin should return to service. He accepts that, despite the best of intentions, he made some people uncomfortable.”

FACT: The OFR IG report, pg. 2, paragraph 1, specifically found a “pattern of comments to his subordinate and presumptive employees in both one-on-one and group settings, on topics relating to sex, personal relationships, and the body, notwithstanding the employees’ immediate reaction or Commissioner Rubin’s intended purpose, had the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment in OFR’s Office of Executive Direction. He treated female individuals differently through his requests to and/or comments about women.”

MITO: Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Times, July 12, 2019, “Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis pressured an agency to drop its involvement in a case against a Miami financial adviser after that adviser gave his campaign $25,000, according to the state’s former top banking regulator.”

FACT: As stated in the Times/Herald article, “‘Our office never took a formal position on this issue and did not pressure (Breakspear’s office) to intervene in any way,’ spokeswoman Katie Strickland wrote in an email to the Times/Herald.” As stated in a July 22, 2019 POLITICO Florida article, “‘Mr. Breakspear is making outrageous statements about this office and has yet to provide a name or title of any individually who supposedly exerted ‘pressure’ on OFR,’ Patronis spokesperson Katie Strickland said. She said she checked with the CFO's senior staff, and none of them said they made calls to OFR staff asking them to stay out of the Dwyer case.”

MITO: Matt Dixon, POLITICO Florida, July 17, 2019, “Political pressure, 'real lack of judgment' pervaded case with Patronis donor, former OFR lawyer says”

FACT: According to POLITICO Florida’s own article, “OFR spokesperson Jamie Mongiovi said she was in attendance for the meeting, and said that it did not include any political discussion. ‘Absolutely not, it was a cordial meeting and not in any way political,’ she said. ‘Slater simply wanted to understand the issue better from OFR’s perspective. We met with him at his request.’”

MYTH: Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Times, July 2, 2019, “Florida law seems clear: Employee complaints are ‘confidential and exempt’ until they’ve been investigated.”

FACT: In a memo by DFS general counsel Peter Penrod on July 11, 2019, “Legal counsel reviewed each document prior to release to ensure any potential confidential information was redacted. Section 119.071(2), Florida Statutes, is titled ‘Agency Investigations’ and contains several categories of information that are confidential. Legal counsel reviewed each category and determined that the only exemption that could potentially apply is section 119.071(2)(n), Florida Statutes. This provision exempts ‘[p]ersonal identifying information of the alleged victim in an allegation of sexual harassment.’ Although information regarding the identity of the individual making the allegation is confidential, the document itself and the name of the alleged harasser are not confidential. See § 119.071(2)(n), Fla. Stat. …

“...legal counsel also reviewed section 119.071(2)(k), Florida Statutes, and determined it did not apply. This section makes confidential ‘[a] complaint of misconduct filed with an agency against an agency employee…until the investigation ceases to be active…’ See § 119.071(2)(k), Fla. Stat. Legal counsel concluded that Florida law treats and defines misconduct complaints and investigations differently than allegations of sexual harassment. Additionally, Florida law requires that each exemption be narrowly applied. Therefore, the exemption for a complaint of misconduct does not apply to an allegation sexual harassment.”

MITO: Tampa Bay Times Editorial, May 31, 2019, “Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis apparently failed to do his homework before recommending hiring the regulator.”
 
FACT: The vetting process included extensive research and a standard criminal background check, which includes 10 databases. CFO Patronis has stated previously that a much deeper vetting needed to take place—in addition to the DFS standard criminal background check and application process.

MITO: Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald, May 31, 2019, “West then asked if Rubin would fire the office’s general counsel and replace that person with someone West had in mind. That person, according to Rubin, was Kimberly Grippa, a lawyer who is the ex-wife of former Leon County Commissioner Tony Grippa.”

FACT: Mr. Ronald Rubin made numerous request for recommendations from DFS for personnel options to fill out the office. The OFR IG report, exhibit B-7, pg. 1, states that DFS provided more than one name for the general counsel position at the request of Mr. Ronald Rubin. Further, according to the Times/Herald article, “Patronis spokeswoman Katie Strickland said Rubin’s allegations sounded like ‘victim-blaming.’ She acknowledged that Mitchell lobbied West to hire Rubin for the job, and that West discussed hiring Grippa with Rubin. But she said that ‘no aspect of Mr. Rubin’s employment has ever been contingent on hiring any employee. His claims are absurd and baseless,’ she said.” In fact, Ms. Grippa did not want to work for Rubin stating, “‘You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to work for him,’ she wrote.”
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. El Oficial Principal de Finanzas Patronis trabaja todos los días para luchar contra el fraude de seguros, apoyar a los bomberos de la Florida y garantizar que las finanzas del estado sean estables para respaldar el crecimiento financiero del estado. Siga las actividades del Departamento en Facebook (FLDFS) y Twitter (@FLDFS).