CFO Jimmy Patronis accused of racism following clemency meeting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The constitutionality of Florida’s clemency process goes before a federal appellate court later this month, but new concerns about the sensitivity and appropriateness of questions asked at the board's most recent meeting may play into the decision.

There are no written criteria for deciding who gets the right to vote or carry a gun back or even a pardon.

At the board's most recent meeting, CFO Jimmy Patronis asked Erwin Jones how many kids he had and by how many different women.

Patronis was appointed to the job last year.

He faces voters for the first time as a statewide candidate in November.

His opponent, former State Senator and CFO Candidate Jeremy Ring, says the remarks smack of racism.

"It’s insensitive, it’s intolerant. It has no place on the Clemency Board, but again, I think it also speaks to as to why the federal judge smacked down the clemency committee,” said Ring.

In a statement, Patronis Campaign Spokeswoman Katie Strickland defended the line of questioning, saying they centered on a history of domestic violence in the case and making sure kids were getting their support.

After that June meeting, the Attorney General defended Patronis’ questions.

“I think he’s trying to get people to come out of their shell and humanize them,” said Bondi. "I thought those were nice questions, like about your family, tell me about this, if you’ve had a tough life.”

There was no decision in Erwin Jone’s case, but the questions are sure to come up when a federal appeals court in Atlanta hears oral arguments later this month about the arbitrary way Florida considers who gets their rights back.

Responding to the charge of racism, this afternoon, the Patronis campaign put out another statement showing he has asked at least three white men about their wives, children, and child support.