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Jay Fant, in the AG race, may be enforcing this law should it pass, and should he win.

Influence

Rick Scott won’t say whether he likes Jay Fant as OFR head

Gov. Rick Scott didn’t telegraph his interest in who should be the state’s top financial regulator at a Tuesday campaign stop in Jacksonville for his U.S. Senate campaign.

Earlier, an aide to the Governor at a Cabinet Aides meeting said he would announce his preference later in the day.

When asked whether Republican state Rep. Jay Fant, a political ally, was his pick, Scott said “it goes through the Cabinet process. There are individuals who have applied.

“We’ll go through the interview process and soon as we go through that process, I’m sure (we’ll) pick the right person,” he said, speaking with Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski at a “Make Washington Work” plan rollout event at Bobcat of Jacksonville. 

Scott and Cabinet members will hold a conference call Wednesday morning and are expected to interview applicants and appoint a replacement for Drew Breakspear.

He recently announced he was stepping down as commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR). Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a member of the Cabinet, pressured Breakspear to leave the post.

Fant, who ran his family’s Jacksonville bank before it was shut down, dropped out of the race for attorney general to apply for OFR Commissioner earlier this month. He’s one of five applicants scheduled to be interviewed.

The OFR reports to the Financial Services Commission, which is made up of the Governor and Cabinet: Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Agriculture Commissioner.

State law says they can hire or fire the OFR’s head “by a majority vote consisting of at least three affirmative votes, with both the Governor and the Chief Financial Officer on the prevailing side.” Patronis is a friend and political ally of Gov. Rick Scott.

Fant was on Scott’s side last year, when he voted against a bill backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran that sought to abolish Scott’s favored Enterprise Florida economic development organization.

Fant said then that he doesn’t “like going against leadership on a vote, and I stick with them on just about everything, but this just isn’t one of those things.”

And Scott later had Fant’s back at an Enterprise Florida meeting later that year.

“There are not a lot of people in the Legislature that stood up for us and talked vocally about their support of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida,” Scott said. “Jay Fant was one of the few, and I want to thank Jay for doing that, and I wish all luck in your next endeavor.”

During a gaggle, Scott then amplified his comments, calling Fant a “leader.”

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Florida Politics Jacksonville correspondent A.G. Gancarski and The News Service of Florida (content republished with permission) contributed to this post.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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