2018 CFO race – Florida Politics

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.

Something’s up with Jeremy Ring’s emails

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring has been blasting out emails repping his CFO campaign for a while, as candidates are wont to do in an election year, but anyone seeking a reprieve from those messages may see something rather odd.

Clicking the unsubscribe link included at the bottom of each email directs recipients to a page where they can end their subscriptions to three mailing lists maintained by the campaign.

The first, titled “General,” appears ordinary enough on the surface. The second, “FDP List,” is likely something the campaign bought or borrowed from the Florida Democratic Party. But the third, “General (without Putnam and Atwater),” is a real head-scratcher.

Why are Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam and former CFO Jeff Atwater, both Republicans, named in the title of a mailing list being used by Ring, a Democrat?

That’s just the first of many questions that title elicits without even touching on the technical issues that led to it being publicly viewable — from the campaign of a former tech company executive, no less.

Is Ring’s campaign using email lists obtained from Republican candidates? If so, how did he get them? If everything is aboveboard, what Republican campaign or political operative greenlit the handoff?

And the kicker: What emails do those on the “General (without Putnam and Atwater)” list receive that users in the “General” list do not?

Ring spent a decade in the Florida Senate and his record is that of a moderate Democrat, making it entirely unclear what positions he could take or what he might say that would be considered unfit for Republican eyes.

A snap of the unsubscribe page is below.

Jeremy Ring unsubscribe page

Email insights: Rick Scott’s FRS actions ‘unethical and outright illegal’

Former Democratic state Senator and CFO candidate Jeremy Ring said in a Friday email that Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t been playing by the rules when it comes to managing the Florida Retirement System.

As Governor, Scott is one of three FRS trustees alongside the state CFO and Attorney General, and Ring blasted Scott in the wake of new reports alleging Scott used that position to bring in checks for the super PAC supporting his U.S. Senate bid.

“Federal law and the roles of the Trustees are pretty cut and dry, politics don’t belong in public retirement systems,” Ring said in the email. “Despite all of this, a review of government documents by several news outlets have uncovered that a campaign committee led by Governor Scott raked in donations from two private equity executives after he and the other Trustees directed state pension investments to their firms.”

Those donations to Scott’s “New Republican PAC” came from New Mountain Capital CEO Steve Klinsky, who gave $5,000, and Energy Capital Partners founder Douglas Kimmelman, who gave $50,000.

New Mountain Capital and Energy Capital Partners received a combined $250 million worth of new investment commitments from FRS in 2014 and 2015, and those investments generated a combined $3 million in fees payments to the firms in the most recent fiscal year.

“Governor Scott’s actions are not only unethical and outright ILLEGAL — but they also compromise the integrity of the FRS,” Ring said in the email.

“As I have said since day one of this campaign, nothing the CFO does is more important than its role as Trustee to FRS, and Governor Scott has shown through his actions that he doesn’t share that same sentiment.”

Ring, a former Yahoo! executive, then called on Scott to return the questionable contributions and step down as an FRS trustee. The Margate Democrat also said FRS must “clawback the money it has invested” in New Mountain Capital and Energy Capital Partners.

“Rest assured, as your next CFO not only will I follow the law and not accept any contributions from investment firms who do business with the State, I will serve as an independent voice and ensure that the actions the Trustees take are for the betterment of the retirement system beneficiaries, not politics,” Ring said.

Ring is currently the only Democrat running for CFO. He is likely to face Republican CFO Jimmy Patronis in the November election. Thonotosassa Sen. Tom Lee was thought to be challenging Patronis in the fall, though he recently announced he would not run for the Cabinet post.

Jeremy Ring adds $60K for CFO bid in March

Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring raised about $60,000 last month for his bid to be the state’s next Chief Financial Officer.

Ring, a former state senator, brought in $14,500 of the new money through his campaign account and another $45,600 through his political committee, Florida Action Fund PC.

The International Association of Fire Fighters was by far the top donor in the new reports. It cut a check for $25,000 to Ring’s committee on the last day of the month.

Following that were $5,000 contributions from West Palm Beach-based MPL I Advisors, Sarasota-based FCCI Services and Florida Workers’ Advocates PAC, a committee chaired by Miami workers’ compensation attorney Richard Chait.

Among the 60 contributions received last month was also a $3,100 self-contribution from Ring. Earlier in the campaign cycle, the former Yahoo executive bolstered his campaign account with a $100,000 loan.

Spending came in at $42,370, with the biggest single expense being a $22,000 contribution from the committee account to the Florida Democratic Party.

Also on the ledger was a $5,500 check for consulting through Johnson Campaigns, $3,900 in accounting fees, $2,500 in advertising and several travel-related expenses.

With March in the books, Ring’s total fundraising sat at $936,000 and he had about $375,000 on hand – $226,000 in his campaign account and $149,000 in his committee.

Ring currently faces sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis in the race.

Patronis, a Repubulican, was appointed to the position last year by Gov. Rick Scott and  has brought in nearly $2.5 million since he announced he would seek a full term. He has not yet reported his March fundraising numbers.

Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee is widely expected to challenge Patronis. He had about $2.3 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, in his March report.

Jimmy Patronis

Former House Speakers back Jimmy Patronis’ bid for Chief Financial Officer

CFO Jimmy Patronis announced Tuesday that five former Florida House Speakers had endorsed his campaign for a full term in the Cabinet position.

The nods came from Steve Crisafulli, Will Weatherford, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul and Allan Bense, who are the five most recent House Speakers outside of now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who held the post from 2006 through 2008.

Patronis was a member of the House from 2006 through 2014.

“CFO Patronis is a devoted watchdog over taxpayer money in Tallahassee. I’ve known him for years and his tremendous work ethic along with his heart for his job and genuine care for the wellbeing of Floridians make him an excellent Chief Financial Officer for our state. I’m looking forward to helping him secure another term in this job,” Weatherford said.

Crisafulli also cited his years-long personal relationship with Patronis, adding that he “has been an outstanding leader and has worked diligently to ensure the people of Florida are well represented.”

Cannon said he was “proud to support CFO Patronis because he is committed to rooting out waste and abuse in state government and protecting Florida’s finances. Jimmy has been an incredible consumer advocate for Floridians who face issues with their insurance provider.”

Cretul said “Serving as CFO, Jimmy Patronis has been dedicated to improving Florida’s economy and business climate. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get the job done. He fights for policies that support our first responders and protect consumers. I am honored to stand by his side.”

Bense, whom Patronis succeeded in the House, added that the sitting CFO “is a proven leader who shares my conservative values.”

“He addresses each issue he encounters with Floridians’ best interest in mind. He truly understands the needs of Florida families. Jimmy’s strong commitment to serving the citizens of our state makes him the right person to serve as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. I know he will continue to serve our state well,” Bense said.

Patronis is currently the only major Republican running for Chief Financial Officer. He’s finishing out the term won by Jeff Atwater, who left the post last year to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.

Since announcing he would run for a full term in November, Patronis has brought in nearly $2.5 million between his campaign and political committee, Treasure Florida.

Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee is widely expected to challenge Patronis. He had about $2.3 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, at the end of January.

The Republican nominee is likely to face former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring on the November ballot.

Jimmy Patronis adds $304K to CFO campaign warchest

Between his campaign account and political committee, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis raised more than $304,000 in February for his campaign to continue as Florida Chief Financial Officer.

The Panama City Republican raised $232,393 through his campaign account last month, and an additional $72,500 in his political committee, Treasure Florida. Overall, he’s raised more than $2.46 million to date – $1.8 million through his PAC, and $647,908 through his campaign account.

Patronis was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last June to serve the remainder of the term won by Jeff Atwater, who resigned to take an administrative position at Florida Atlantic University.

Patronis announced in November that he would run for a full term in 2018.

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring is the lone Democrat to enter the race. He’s yet to report on fundraising for February, but had raised a total of about $851,000 by of the end of January, including $100,000 in loans, and had about $353,000 on hand.

Thonotosassa Republican Tom Lee is widely expected to challenge Patronis. He had about $2.3 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, at the end of January.

Senate panel advances proposed constitutional amendment changing CFO duties

A Senate bill that would put a constitutional amendment expanding the Chief Financial Officer’s duties on the ballot cleared its second committee stop Tuesday.

SB 792, sponsored by Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee, would have the CFO participate in economic, demographic, and revenue estimating conferences.

It would also require the CFO to review and certify contracts over $10 million proposed by state agencies, and follow up on them to ensure any payments due don’t exceed the amount appropriated for them.

Lee said the bill addresses “glaring oversights” in the Cabinet position that have been present since it was created in 2002.

“To this day we lack the constitutional footing for the officer to play his role,” Lee said, adding that the bill would change the CFO position from focusing on “the back end as a treasurer writing checks” to a more “front end” role ensuring compliance in state contracts.

Lee is expected to run for CFO in 2018, but hasn’t given a timeline for when he’ll jump in the race.

If and when he enters the race, he’ll face sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis and Antoanet Iotova in the Republican Primary. Patronis was appointed to the seat last year by Gov. Rick Scott after elected CFO Jeff Atwater left the job to take a position at Florida Atlantic University.

Also running for the seat is former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring.

SB 792 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without any questions, appearances or debate, and the lack of noise, at least from the Florida Department of Financial Services, didn’t go unnoticed by Lee, who was chagrined that he didn’t get an opportunity to rebut “misinformation” he said DFS spread when the bill went before the Ethics and Elections Committee earlier this year.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, its final stop before a floor vote. A similar bill in the House, HB 1421, has not yet been heard in committee.

Jeremy Ring subtly touts CFO bid while promoting Yahoo memoir in Tampa

For more than half a year, Jeremy Ring has been on the campaign stump, where he frequently talked about his business roots working at Yahoo when it was just a startup in the 1990s before it became an internet colossus that crashed and burned a decade later.

Now, the former South Florida Democratic lawmaker and current CFO candidate published a memoir of that period of his life called “We Were Yahoo,” which hit bookstores and Amazon.com this week.

Speaking at Cafe Con Tampa at the Oxford Exchange Friday morning, Ring explained to the audience that the genesis for the book came out of a need to escape the depression he felt in 2011 after two open heart surgeries. The first operation repaired a lifelong problem with an aortic valve. However, that operation went bad, requiring a second surgery a few weeks later.

Feeling bad mentally, he began to write — just to get out of his own head.

After the depression passed, he put down the writing until 2016, when he decided to specifically speak about his experience with one of Silicon Valley’s early giants, and the horrible mistakes he believed management made that led to the company turning into a shell of what it once was and could have been.

The internet company quickly became a dot com phenomenon in the 1990s, with an evaluation of over $100 billion at its peak. Ring was one of its first salesmen, beginning in New York City before moving to Silicon Valley.

In 2008, Yahoo had a chance to sell for $44.6 billion when Microsoft made an unsolicited offer. Yahoo turned down the offer. The company was ultimately sold to Verizon for just $4.8 billion in 2016.

In Ring’s retelling of the story, the most prominent culprit is Yahoo’s second CEO, Terry Semel, who was hired away from Warner Bros. in 2001 despite having never run a technology company.

Semel turned down offers to buy both Google and Facebook in their relative infancy. Yahoo and Semel had negotiated a deal to purchase Facebook for $1.1 billion, but the deal fell apart when Semel didn’t want to go higher than $800 million.

Similarly, Yahoo was the most prominent licenser of Google search technology before the founders became their own independent search engine. There was the chance for Semel and Yahoo to purchase Google for $6-$7 billion, Ring said.

Yahoo offered only $3 billion, and the rest is history.

As he said in the past, Ring hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last Democrat to hold the CFO position, Alex Sink, who happened to be in the audience listening intently. During the Q&A period, Sink asked why other executives couldn’t persuade Semel on what became some disastrous business decisions.

It’s well documented that Yahoo’s board of directors was “probably the weakest board of any publicly traded company over a twenty year period,” Ring replied.

The stakes were high at Yahoo, Ring recounted, especially during the time it was considered the highest publicly traded company on the stock market ever.

The pressure was “unbelievable,” Ring said, adding that, with few exceptions, no lawmaker in Florida ever feels anything close to such pressure doing their day to day job.

“People talk about pressure in politics? No, no, no,” he said, referring specifically to the demands Wall Street puts on such companies to hit critical levels in a specific quarter.

“Wall Street doesn’t care about the next quarter! They only care about that quarter,” he said, adding that working under such pressure can lead to making poor business decisions.

At one point, Ring boasted: “For 21 straight quarters, I was a key part of the highest profile publicly traded company in the world, OK? I understand big numbers. It doesn’t scare me.”

Mostly shying away from politics, Ring did address the significance of the CFO position, saying the single most crucial part of the job is making sure the $120 billion Florida Retirement System remains robust.

A Boston native, he’s also passionate about the New England Patriots, as they attempt to win their third Super Bowl in four years next weekend.

After hearing some jeers from the crowd, Ring’s reaction was to ask why some people didn’t like the Patriots franchise or its fans.

“For all those who are booing me, my answer to you is … what’s the matter, you don’t like winners?”

Ring is currently the only Democrat running and will likely face Republican CFO Jimmy Patronis or Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee in the fall.

While Patronis has only been in the office since June — named by Gov. Rick Scott as Jeff Atwater‘s successor — Patronis is enjoying the full benefits of incumbency, such as with a recent appearance in the state’s biggest media market on Thursday to remind Floridians it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine.

Jeremy Ring’s book on Yahoo! years debuts today

CFO candidate and former state Sen. Jeremy Ring’s book, “We Were Yahoo!” detailing the rise and fall of one-time dot com juggernaut hits shelves tomorrow and promises to be both an entertaining romp and a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs about the pitfalls that come with quick success.

In 1996, more than a decade before he entered Florida politics, Ring was hired by Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang to build a sales force on the east coast and spent the next 5-and-a-half years working for the pioneering search engine.

“The experience made me want to change the world,” Ring said. “And, I’ve never gotten over that.”

The “life-changing” experience gave Ring a “50 yard line view” of the company’s meteoric climb — when Yahoo!’s market cap hit $120 billion in Jan. 2000, it was worth more than Disney, News Corporation, and Comcast combined.

That newfound wealth led to some excess, with extravagant parties and company meetings, but shortly after Yahoo!’s zenith came its spectacular fall beginning with dot com bubble burst.

Those looking for a dose of schadenfreude direct from their Kindle may be in luck, as Ring’s book also touts some juicy tidbits from the beginning-of-the-end era, which was foreshadowed by a number of blunders, including a missed opportunity to acquire Google for $1 million.

From the promo release: “Ring describes the slow death and disbelief in riveting detail. The company continued to tread water for more than a decade, still generating a few billion dollars in annual revenue. By the time Marissa Meyer arrived to great fanfare in 2012, it was too late to save a once great company with so much unrealized potential.”

Still, Ring said he isn’t looking put out too much dirt on his former co-workers.

“The idea was not to trash anybody in all of this,” Ring said. “It was to simply tell the story from an insider’s view and let people take away what they will from it. Hopefully it will be entertaining and it will help others in some way as they attempt to build and sustain great organizations.”

The book is available through Amazon as a paperback and an e-book. More information on the book is available through WeWereYahooBook.com.

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