2018 CFO race Archives - Florida Politics

Risky business: Jimmy Patronis hits Jeremy Ring over past ‘flops and failures’

CFO Jimmy Patronis’ campaign attacked Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring Tuesday over a trio of businesses that have failed with him at the helm.

The first of the so-called flops is one Ring, a former State Senator and Yahoo exec, readily admits. Shortly after leaving Yahoo in 2001, Ring launched digital tech company Convizion, and it failed when the internet bubble burst, losing millions of dollars in investor money.

The other two, Strategic Baseball Ventures and Ring Entertainment Group, were startups run by Ring in the early 2000s that both shut down a few years after they launched.

The Patronis campaign said that bumpy background provided an “alarming window” into how he would handle the official duties of the Cabinet job, which include heading up the state’s accounting, auditing, and payroll services, among other responsibilities.

“Jeremy Ring’s flops and failures with Florida businesses make him the wrong choice for Florida’s finances,” said campaign communications director Katie Strickland. “Ring talks up his experience at Yahoo, but his business record in Florida tells a different story, with multiple business ventures flopping or failing just years after Ring started them or took control.

“Ring even admitted in ‘no uncertain terms’ to his multimillion-dollar digital venture ‘being a failure’ when speaking to a group in 2008. Risky Ring is wrong for Florida’s finances,” she continued.

According to the Florida Division of Corporations, Ring does have some businesses that are still in operation — Creek Equity Partners, Park Spring Holdings, YPublish and Students United with Parents and Educators to Resolve Bullying.

Patronis’ attack comes a month after Ring hit the Panama City Republican for posing allegedly racist questions during a clemency hearing, a charge Patronis’ campaign has called baseless.

The two are the only major party candidates vying for the Cabinet position.

As of July 27, Patronis held a clear lead in the money race with nearly $4.5 million raised and about $3.9 million on hand between his campaign account and political committee, Treasure Florida. Ring has raised about $1.2 million, including in $150,000 candidate loans, and has $458,000 in the bank between his two accounts.

The pair will go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 general election.

Jimmy Patronis cracks $4 million raised for CFO bid, says he’s not taking anything for granted

Another week, another milestone for CFO Jimmy Patronis fundraising operation.

The Panama City Republican tacked on another $220,000 in contributions for his campaign and Treasure Florida political committee in a week, pushing him past the $4 million mark in total fundraising. Those fundraising numbers — both the new ones and the overall tally — outshine Patronis’ top rival, former Margate Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring, by leaps and bounds.

Ring, a former Yahoo! executive, raised just $3,029 for the June 30 through July 6 reporting period. Since entering the race in May 2017, he’s raised just over $1 million between his campaign and Florida Action Fund political committee.

His $440,000 on hand, which includes $150,000 in candidate loans, is dwarfed by Patronis’ $3.45 million war chest, and the incumbent’s campaign didn’t waste the opportunity to gloat, especially in the wake of what it sees as an unfair attack on Patronis for allegedly racist comments during a clemency hearing in June.

“While our opponent has been busy name-calling and attacking in an attempt to distract from us leaving him in the dust, the CFO has continued to circle the state each and every week, meeting with voters and working hard to raise more money,” campaign manager Paige Davis said in an email. “Team Jimmy is thrilled to celebrate today’s $4 million milestone, which gives us an impressive lead over our mudslinging opponent Jeremy Ring. We currently have EIGHT TIMES as much cash on hand compared to Ring!”

While Patronis is the best-capitalized Cabinet candidate — he’s outpacing seven-figure self-funders Frank White in the Attorney General race and Baxter Troutman in the Ag Commissioner contest — but Ring isn’t completely down and out.

The most recent poll of the statewide race showed Ring with a 5-point lead over Patronis among general election voters. A prior poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Patronis, showed the incumbent with a near double-digit lead, however, and the Patronis campaign on Wednesday pointed to a variety of local Chamber straw polls that favored him by a 3-to-1 margin.

But for all the ribbing, the Patronis campaign isn’t taking the challenge lightly.

“In light of all the recent success, we know this will continue to be an uphill battle and take nothing for granted,” Davis wrote.

The general election is Nov. 6.

Florida Realtors announce their picks for statewide races: Adam Putnam, Ashley Moody, Jimmy Patronis, Denise Grimsley

The political arm of the state’s largest professional trade association, Florida Realtors, handed out endorsements Monday in the statewide races for Florida Governor and Cabinet.

“The health of Florida’s real estate industry and its economy go hand-in-hand,” said Bill Martin, CEO of Florida Realtors. “We need elected officials who understand this relationship and will work tirelessly to enact laws and policies that promote homeownership and protect the rights of homeowners throughout the state.”

Republicans currently have a monopoly on Florida’s four elected offices in the executive branch, and according to Florida Realtors’ endorsements they’d like it to stay that way.

Sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, the only Republican running in that race, got the nod from Florida Realtors. He’s heading toward a Nov. 6 showdown with former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring.

The other statewide races feature competitive primaries.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the trade association’s pick in the race for Governor. The realtor endorsement is the latest in a long line of endorsements for the Polk County pol, who has previously earned the support of 45 county sheriffs and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, among others.

His primary opponent is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has staked out the Trump lane — including an official endorsement — in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Scott.

The contest to replace Putnam is the most crowded of the lot — Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman are vying for the GOP nom, with Caldwell, Grimsley and Troutman all having seven-figure war chests.

Of the four, Grimsley got the endorsement. It’s her third of the day, following her announcement that another two county sheriffs are backing her bid for Ag Commissioner.

For Attorney General, Florida Realtors PAC prefers former circuit court judge Ashley Moody. The Hillsborough native, who has locked up support from more than 40 county sheriffs and current AG Pam Bondi, is up against Pensacola state Rep. Frank White in the Aug. 28 primary.

Florida Realtors said it evaluated candidates on numerous factors, including their voting record on issues that are relevant to the real estate profession.

“Florida is a beacon of success in the nation, but we need dedicated elected officials rolling up their sleeves and working with organizations like ours to ensure that success continues,” said Carrie O’Rourke, vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors. “We believe these candidates will do just that and hope Florida voters agree in November.”

Jimmy Patronis triples Jeremy Ring in June fundraising for CFO race

Campaign finance reports covering most of last month show sitting Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis continuing to build his cash advantage over his challenger, former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring.

Patronis brought in $167,500 during the past two reporting cycles, which cover June 1 through June 29. The Panama City Republican raised $92,100 of that money through his campaign account, with the balance coming in through his political committee, Treasure Florida.

Ring brought in $56,590 over the same stretch, including $26,590 in hard money and $30,000 in soft money raised through his political committee, Florida Action Fund.

Patronis’ campaign account received more than a dozen checks for $3,000 last month, the maximum contribution for statewide campaigns, while Treasure Florida’s biggest contribution in June was a $25,000 check from the United Association, a labor union for plumbers and pipefitters.

His two accounts spent a combined $61,000 for the month, with the single biggest check heading to the Florida Department of State to cover his qualifying fee.

Ring’s campaign account notched just three $3,000 checks, with the bulk of his funds coming in from small-dollar donors. Florida Action Fund’s largest contribution of the month came in from the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union. They sent a $15,000 check on June 29.

Patronis has now reeled in $3.8 million for his 2018 campaign and had $3.28 million banked on June 29. Ring has raised $1.15 million for his bid, including money he raised for his committee prior to becoming a candidate, and has $472,000 in the bank. His total also includes $150,000 in candidate loans.

Though Patronis has a clear lead in fundraising, recent polls of the CFO race have been split.

A Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert of EDGE Communications last month showed Ring with a 39-34 percent lead over Patronis. A separate poll released by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Patronis, found the incumbent with a 40-31 percent edge over Ring.

Ring and Patronis are the only two major party candidates running for CFO, though write-in candidate Richard Paul Dembinsky has also qualified for the race.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Jimmy Patronis says he will ‘lead the charge’ in cryptocurrency transparency

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Monday rolled out his campaign’s platform on regulating and rooting out fraud in the burgeoning cryptocurrency market.

“Many of our citizens rely on their investment or retirement accounts for their income and cryptocurrencies continue to grow and attract more investment from our state. I am committed to making the necessary rule and legislative changes in the 2019 legislative session to ensure we are tracking the cryptocurrency companies based in Florida and that we are regularly informing the public of any crypto scammers or lawbreakers,” said Patronis, who was appointed to the CFO job last year.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies not issued or backed up by any bank or government but instead rely on a decentralized network of users to log and verify transactions without oversight from a central authority. The best-known cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin and Ethereum.

If elected to a full term in November, Patronis said that he plans to push for two measures in the 2019 Legislative Session. The first would require any Florida-based cryptocurrency company to register with the Office of Financial Regulation, so their presence is tracked at the state level. The second policy would require notification of Florida citizens if any cryptocurrency scheme is uncovered or is being prosecuted, “even if the prosecution originates from another state but still involves Florida-based firms.”

In calling for those policies, Patronis cited “Operation Cryptosweep,” a massive effort by American and Canadian authorities to crackdown on cryptocurrency fraud. Per the North American Securities Administrators Association, the initiative has resulted in nearly 70 inquiries and investigations.

“This included a cease and desist letter sent from the Alabama Security Commission to a company based in Miami. According to regulators in Alabama, Platinum Coin from Miami was selling itself to investors by pitching unrealistic promises of a 320 percent return,” Patronis said.

“Further, in a recently released study by a University of Texas at Austin professor, Bitcoin prices may have artificially risen last year because of price manipulation fraud. Over half of all U.S. financial fraud victims are over the age of 70. We must bring the disinfecting light of transparency to the cryptocurrency industry in Florida by requiring those that are Florida-based to register with the Office of Financial Regulation.”

“I will lead the charge to ensure we are rooting out fraudulent actors in this industry and issuing regular consumer alerts to the public by immediately putting notifications online and alerting the media when a cryptocurrency scam has been identified. We already have a public notification system when there is an environmental spill or disaster. We must take similar measures to aggressively notify the public, and especially our seniors and others living off investment income (which could be diverted into a cryptocurrency) about any scammers as we become aware of them.”

Patronis’ cryptocurrency campaign platform follows an official release from his office earlier this month lauding the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s appointment of Valerie Szczepanik as the first cryptocurrency adviser. He also issued a separate release from his office last month warning Floridians about a massive uptick in cryptocurrency related scams.

The Panama City Republican is up against former Margate Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring in general election. Neither candidate faces a primary election challenger.

Recent polls don’t show a consensus on which of the two candidates has the advantage four months out from the Nov. 6 election. When it comes to fundraising, however, Patronis is ahead with $3.6 million raised and $3.17 million in the bank at the beginning of June. Ring has raised about $1.1 million for his campaign, including $150,000 in loans. He started the month with $458,674 on hand.

Jeremy Ring leads Jimmy Patronis in new poll of CFO race

A new poll of the race for Chief Financial Officer shows former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring with a 5-point lead over incumbent Republican Jimmy Patronis.

According to the Public Policy Polling survey, the former Yahoo! exec is the top choice for 39 percent of Florida voters while Patronis received 34 percent support and 27 percent of voters were undecided.

Those results came from a sample that was 40 percent Democratic, 39 percent Republican and 21 percent no- or third-party. Those voters said they voted for President Donald Trump 46-45 percent two years ago, and now view the commander in chief unfavorably by a 4-point margin, 49-45 percent.

The PPP margin is markedly different from a recent poll put out by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which found Patronis ahead by 9 points, 40-31 percent.

The Florida Chamber endorsed Patronis last month. The PPP poll was commissioned by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert of EDGE Communications.

Outside of those polls, few have measured the temperature of the CFO race. In fact, the statewide race has kept a low profile in the early going, possibly because it lacks the primary season drama found on both sides of the Governor’s race or the GOP primary contests for Attorney General and Ag Commissioner.

Regardless of the reason, the race’s low profile was reflected further down in the poll where 87 percent of respondents indicated they weren’t sure — or didn’t know enough to say — whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Ring. Voters were only a tad less reticent with Patronis despite him being the incumbent.

The title card for the statewide race has been set for the better part of a year.

Ring filed for the seat in May 2017, and while Patronis didn’t announce until November, there was little doubt he would make a run after he was appointed to replace former CFO Jeff Atwater last summer.

Where Patronis’ lead is certain is in the money race. Seven months in, the Panama City Republican had raised $3.6 million between his campaign and committee and had $3.17 million in the bank at the beginning of June. Ring has raised about $1.1 million for his campaign, including $150,000 in loans. He has $458,674 on hand.

The automated phone poll was conducted June 18-19. It collected 1,308 responses from Florida voters across the state’s 10 media markets.

Jimmy Patronis expands cash lead in CFO race

The campaign cash keeps rolling in for CFO Jimmy Patronis.

The Panama City Republican brought in $463,251 last month, including $217,601 for his campaign account and $245,650 for political committee Treasure Florida. That haul boosts his overall tally to $3.6 million with $3.17 million in the bank at the beginning of June.

Topping the committee report was a pair of $25,000 checks, one from a political committee tied to Coral Gables billionaire Mike Fernandez and another from South Florida recovery center Deerfield Florida House. Utility company TECO Energy, law firm Lydecker LLP, medical marijuana dispensary Surterra and a political committee linked to the Florida Chamber of Commerce followed at the $15,000 level.

The campaign report listed 270 contributions, including 35 for the maximum allowable contribution of $3,000. Notable names among the max donor crowd were lobby firms The Rubin Group and The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners as well as half-dozen checks linked to U.S. Sugar and its subsidiaries.

Patronis was appointed to the CFO job by Gov. Rick Scott last summer. He faces light opposition from Antoanet Iotova in the Republican primary, while former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring is likely to face him on the November ballot.

Ring’s finance reports combined to $59,603 last month with $35,000 of that sum raised via his political committee, Florida Action Fund, and the balance heading to the campaign account.

The former Yahoo! executive’s most prominent contribution in May was a $15,000 check from the Greater Florida Leadership Group, one of three committees chaired by Tallahassee lobbyist David Ramba to donate to Ring’s committee last month. Also on the committee report was a $10,000 check from Florida Alliance for Better Government, a committee chaired by lobbyist and Democratic consultant Screven Watson.

The campaign haul included a trio of $3,000 checks political committees tied to the Florida Police Benevolent Association. The PBA endorsed Ring for CFO last month.

Ring has raised about $1.1 million for his campaign, including $150,000 in loans. He started June with $458,674 on hand.

Jimmy Patronis leads Jeremy Ring in Florida Chamber poll

If today were Election Day, CFO Jimmy Patronis would defeat former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring to win a full term on the job.

According to a new poll commissioned by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Patronis leads Ring 40-31 among likely voters and newly registered voters statewide. The Florida Chamber endorsed Patronis last month.

Like the recent polls in Tampa Bay’s three battleground Senate districts, much of the gap between the two pols is attributable to Patronis’ strong support among GOP voters and Ring’s middling support among his base.

Patronis, who was appointed to the Cabinet post by Gov. Rick Scott last year, was the pick for three-quarters of likely Republican voters while only 5 percent said they would cross the aisle and vote for Ring. Conversely, the Margate Democrat received just 57 percent support from his base, while 28 percent said they were undecided and eight said they planned to vote for Patronis.

Ring held a slight lead among unaffiliated and third-party voters, 27-26, with the remainder undecided.

Eric Johnson, an adviser to the Ring campaign, isn’t buying the lack of party loyalty on the Democratic side.

“This an embarrassing poll from an organization that has endorsed Jimmy Patronis. Any democratic candidate will get more of their party vote than that in today’s partisan environment. If they are counting on Ring to get only 57 percent of Democrats on Election Day then Patronis is going to lose in a landslide,” he said.

If that lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters does exist, it certainly isn’t unique to Ring.

Another of the poll’s questions measured voters feelings on the state of the state, and while half of Democrats said Florida was on the “wrong track,” 29 percent said it was headed in the “right direction.” Republican voters were overwhelmingly in the “right direction” camp, 77-11.

The live interview telephone poll was conducted by Cherry Communications May 25 to June 4. It took responses from 605 Floridians — 249 Democrats, 237 Republicans and 119 other party or NPA voters — and has a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

The Florida Chamber said it expects half of the state’s 12.9 million registered voters to show up at the polls Nov. 6. That would be similar to 2014, the last midterm election, when 51 percent of voters cast a general election ballot.

Jeremy Ring boosts CFO campaign with $50K loan

Former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring raised nearly $53,000 and pumped another $50,000 of his own money into his CFO campaign last month.

Ring’s April reports show $76,565 raised for his campaign, including the loan, and another $26,250 for his political committee, Florida Action Fund PC. Ring has now raised just over $1 million for his statewide bid.

Outside of the loan, Ring shows 80 contributions for the month including two maximum contributions. Those $3,000 checks came in from Miami attorney Philip Golf and Ft. Lauderdale attorney Hamilton Collins Foreman Jr., who originally chipped in $3,300 before the Ring campaign refunded the excess.

Disney topped the committee report with a $10,000 check, followed by a $7,500 contrib from the firm of Pensacola attorney Levin Papantonio and $5,000 from Coral Springs retiree Robert Greenberg.

The two accounts combined to spend $31,110.

At the top of the ledger were $7,200 in payments to voter database company NGP VAN. Also listed was a $5,500 check to Johnson Campaigns for consulting work as well as about $3,000 each to Renaissance Campaign Strategies and MDW Communications for consulting and advertising, respectively.

Ring started May with $282,396 in his campaign and $164,169 in his committee, for a combined total of $446,565 in the bank. That also includes the April loan and a $100,000 loan he made to the campaign in August.

Ring is the only Democrat running for CFO. His chief opponent is sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City Republican who in 2017 was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to serve out the remainder of Jeff Atwater’s term after he left the job to take a position at Florida Atlantic University.

Patronis faces only nominal opposition in the Republican Primary, and with the announcement that Thonotosassa Sen. Tom Lee will not run for the job it’s likely to stay that way.

Earlier this week, Patronis picked up an endorsement from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Florida Police Benevolent Association recently announced Ring, a former Yahoo! executive, as their pick for the fall.

Though Patronis has not filed his April reports, he still holds the edge in fundraising based on his March totals. At last tally, Patronis more than $2.5 million in the bank between his campaign account and political committee, Treasure Florida.

Police association announces Governor, Cabinet endorsements

The Florida Police Benevolent Association on Wednesday announced endorsements for candidates running for executive branch positions in the fall.

“The dangers law enforcement, probation and correctional officers face have placed our professions at a crossroads. Our members want leaders who value their service and sacrifices. The selected candidates have a well-established record of loyalty to our service and our endorsements reflect the trust built between us,” said Florida PBA President John Rivera.

“We will ask our members, their friends and families – and all citizens in Florida who love and respect law enforcement, to cast their ballots in support of our endorsed candidates.”

In the race to replace termed-out Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida PBA board named Adam Putnam as their Republican pick and Gwen Graham as their Democratic one.

Putnam, who faces Ponte Vedra U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican Primary for governor, was quick to tout the endorsement.

“I am proud to have the support of the men and women of the Florida Police Benevolent Association,” Putnam said in a Wednesday press release. “As Governor, I’ll work every day to make Florida first in the nation. I want Florida to be the first choice for Americans to launch their careers, start their businesses and raise their families. Yet, none of this can happen without the brave public servants that dedicate their lives to protecting and serving Florida’s citizens and visitors.

“Public safety is the foundation of our society, and as Governor, I will put Florida first by continuing to support the brave men and women who wear a uniform each day and go to work to protect our great state.”

Graham did the same, saying via Twitter that she would “work to support Florida law enforcement and strengthen the relationships between police and the communities they protect.”

Earning the honor in the crowded Attorney General race were former circuit court judge Ashley Moody, a Republican, and Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw. The endorsement adds to an immense pile of law enforcement endorsements for Moody, including more than half of Florida’s county sheriffs.

Shaw took to Twitter to spread the word shortly after the endorsement was announced.

The PBA also picked Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell over his three opponents in the Republican Primary for Ag Commissioner. The Caldwell endorsement comes a day after his chief rival, Sebring Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley, announced endorsements from 10 county sheriffs.

Caldwell accepted the endorsement with the following statement:  “I’m proud to have received the unanimous endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association. Florida’s law enforcement community is made up of brave and selfless men and women who admirably uphold their commitment to protect and serve. I am honored that they have placed their trust in me.”

The PBA nod follows several “waves” of endorsements for Caldwell, mainly from his colleagues in the state House.

The police association said its endorsements were for the primary race, though it offered its support for former Margate Sen. Jeremy Ring, who is currently unopposed in the Democratic Primary for Chief Financial Officer. Sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis who is opposed in the Republican Primary, albeit nominally, didn’t make the cut.

The Florida PBA, which represents more than 28,000 law enforcement officers,  said their selections came after its board offered each statewide candidate a chance to sit down for an interview with their committee.

The primary election will be held Aug. 28. The general election is Nov. 6.

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