It looks as if all the major candidates for Florida chief financial officer have had their driver’s licenses suspended — and also having trouble keeping track of that status.
Three weeks after Republican incumbent Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis was stung by a report that his driver’s license was suspended for nine months in 2011 and ’12, his election campaign is pointing out that his top opponent, Democratic former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, had driver’s license troubles of his own, and perhaps worse.
Patronis’ campaign is bringing to light a Sept. 1, 2006, story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which reported that Ring’s driver’s license was suspended because of unpaid tolls on toll roads.
As Patronis did last month, Ring blamed a system glitch last month, contending he had not even been aware, at least for a while, that the state had suspended his driver’s license, according to the 2006 story. That story had been published during Ring’s 2006 campaign for Senate District 32.
“Ring said he logged the violations because the transponder on his SunPass wasn’t working and he didn’t realize it until he tried renting a car and discovered his license had been suspended for nonpayment of the fines,” the Sun-Sentinel reported in that story.
“‘Once I found out, I paid everything instantly,'” the story quotes Ring as saying then.
Ring’s campaign acknowledged the 2006 suspension, and then released a statement reminding that Patronis’ license was suspended over an insurance matter, and now Patronis is the state’s top insurance regulator.
In Patronis’ case, his license was suspended in 2011 because of an apparent glitch in the system that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles uses to keep track of mandatory car insurance for drivers. As demonstrated by records his insurance agent sent in last month, Patronis switched insurance carriers without missing a day of coverage. But his new policy did not get logged, for some unknown reason, into the department’s computers in Tallahassee. When the department saw he canceled his old policy yet saw no record of a new policy, it automatically suspended Patronis’ license for a standard nine months.
In May, Patronis told Florida Politics (through a spokeswoman) he did not know his license was ever suspended until asked about it.
By the end of that day, after being provided documentation on Patronis’ insurance, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles declared the suspension an error and removed it from Patronis’ driving record.
“This discovery [of a report that Ring’s license once was suspended] brings to light many questions: Does this mean Ring’s campaign and/or his Democratic Party bosses were involved last month in trying to say CFO Patronis had a driver’s license suspension, which turned out to be a system error? Is this all just one big coincidence?” Katie Strickland, communications director for Patronis’ campaign, mused in a news release. “Or could it be that they were trying to get ahead of what has been a campaign problem for them before? It’s time for them to start giving some answers.”
‘I’ve heard of people throwing rocks at glass houses — but this is a boulder. It’s unbelievable that Jimmy Patronis is attacking Jeremy Ring over unpaid tickets from 12 years ago when it was just reported that he had his license suspended for not having insurance and he is the insurance commissioner for the state,” Ring’s campaign manager Anthony Pardal said in a statement issued by the campaign.