FDLE reviewing whether CFO Patronis violated the law

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has confirmed it is reviewing a complaint that alleges Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis violated the law by releasing a harassment complaint to the public while the case was still open.

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis is under fire amid allegations he violated the privacy of a sexual harassment complainant. (WJHG)

The complaint was filed against Florida’s now-suspended top financial regulator Ronald Rubin.

Patronis released a redacted version of the complaint, despite the form guaranteeing confidentiality. Attorney Tiffany Cruz said her client was able to be identified despite the redactions.

“It’s no service to the employees filing these complaints. It gives very little confidence to future victims of sexual harassment, male or female, that when they report and expect their reports to be confidential that is what will happen,” said Cruz.

Cruz called on the state’s Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate the possible violation. Instead Moody referred the complaint to the Inspector General overseeing the case against Rubin.

After making no determination on whether or not Patronis violated the law, the Inspector General for the Department of Financial Services referred the case to FDLE.

Feeling the heat, the CFO’s Office finally issued a statement Wednesday.

In the three-part legalese explanation, the Department of Financial Services’ General Council Peter Penrod asserted the release of the sexual harassment complaint was proper because the identity of the victim was redacted.

But this isn’t the first time Patronis has come under fire for potentially violating the privacy of a sexual harassment complainant. In 2018, Patronis released a report on another complaint, in which the victim's name was initially unredacted.

Cruz also represented the victim in that case. She said the report was used to pressure Rubin’s predecessor, Drew Breakspear to resign.

“That is very similar to what is now happening. We have two valid complaints of sexual harassment being utilized by an executive member to further whatever agenda that he may have,” said Cruz.

Patronis has called for the firing of Rubin to be discussed at the next meeting of the Governor and Cabinet, which is scheduled for July 25.

Both Rubin and his predecessor Breakspear have made their own allegations against Patronis. Rubin alleges he was ousted for not hiring someone Patronis had recommended. FDLE confirmed last week that it had received information regarding Rubin's complaint.