CFO takes flack from both accused and accuser in harassment case

Published: Jul. 3, 2019 at 4:28 PM CDT
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Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is taking fire from both the state’s suspended top financial regulator who has been accused of harassment and the state employee who filed the complaint.

The CFO made the employee's complaint public, which may have violated state law.

Following the harassment allegation filed by a state employee against Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Ronald Rubin, Patronis was quick to suspend the Commissioner and call for his permanent removal.

"If I could remove him unilaterally, I would, but it takes a cabinet effort to do that,” said Patronis in May.

Soon after, Patronis released a copy of the complaint, which sparked backlash from the employee who filed it. The complaint form guarantees confidentiality while the investigation is ongoing.

"The reasons that you've got the protections that you do is to protect a victim, like this woman,” said Marie Mattox, and employment attorney. "Why would he do it? What would his motive be?"

The employee’s lawyer, Tiffany Cruz asked the Attorney General to investigate Patronis for the breach. The AG instead passed the complaint to the Inspector General in charge of investigating the case against Rubin.

Employment attorney Richard Johnson said the Attorney General should be the one to take action.

"But she doesn't want to mess with a fellow cabinet member,” said Johnson. "It would be very awkward for them at cabinet meetings I'm sure."

Rubin is also calling for an investigation into Patronis’ office. The Commissioner has accused the CFO of extorting campaign contributions in a pay-to-play scheme.

The FDLE has confirmed it has received information regarding the allegations, but would not say from who or what it was.

Rubin’s accusations aside, Patronis could face up to a year in prison if found guilty of violating the public record law, although attorneys we spoke with said it would be an unlikely outcome.

We reached out to the CFO's office for comment and his team directed us to a statement from May that reads, "In light of recent allegations of misconduct by the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner Ronald Rubin, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis released the following statement directing an immediate investigation:

"CFO Jimmy Patronis said, 'Due to these troubling allegations in a sexual harassment complaint filed by an OFR employee, I am requiring an immediate investigation into the conduct of Commissioner Rubin. Every person deserves to feel safe and respected in their work environment. That standard is non-negotiable. Commissioner Rubin has been placed on administrative leave. I have directed my Office of the Inspector General to begin a preliminary investigation, and I will seek additional input from the Cabinet.'”

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