A ‘messy situation’: State’s top financial regulator on leave after sexual harassment complaint

Ronald Rubin
The "situation had become awkward and uncomfortable."

The state’s top financial regulator is on administrative leave after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis disclosed the complaint — the complainant called it a “messy situation” — against Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner Ronald Rubin Friday night after “directing an immediate investigation,” the CFO said in a statement.

“Due to these troubling allegations in a sexual harassment complaint filed by an OFR employee, I am requiring an immediate investigation into the conduct of Commissioner Rubin,” Patronis said.

“Every person deserves to feel safe and respected in their work environment,” he added. “That standard is non-negotiable. Commissioner Rubin has been placed on administrative leave. I have directed my Office of the Inspector General to begin a preliminary investigation, and I will seek additional input from the Cabinet.”

Patronis released a redacted copy of the complaint against Rubin and related emails Friday night (see below). The name of the complainant was not revealed.

The incidents took place last month, according to the complaint, also dated Friday. The OFR employee detailed a lunch meeting in which Rubin made offhand sexually related comments, and a side visit to his nearby Tallahassee condo to show off renovations he was having done.

The next day, he invited the employee to accompany him to an upcoming conference in Washington and offered to lend the person the “key to (his) apartment” that he still maintains there.

What happened next is difficult to discern because of multiple redactions but the employee said the “situation had become awkward and uncomfortable,” and offered that it “makes it more difficult to do my job as efficiently as I could.”

The complaint later describes the employee’s efforts to avoid further interaction with Rubin in the office, referring to “inappropriate and uncomfortable circumstances.”

Rubin was hired after former commissioner Drew Breakspear quit last June. Patronis pressured Breakspear to leave the position after numerous calls for a new top regulator from mortgage and security industry leaders who had clashed with the agency.

The office “provides regulatory oversight for Florida’s financial services industry,” according to its website.

Rubin has been an enforcement attorney for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and worked at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is paid nearly $166,000 per year to run OFR.

The OFR is under the state CFO, but reports to the Financial Services Commission, which is made up of the Governor and Cabinet. 

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.”

Friday’s revelation of alleged sexual misconduct by a high official is the latest to buffet state government in the last couple of years. They include:

— Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens resigned from the Florida Senate in September 2017, after a disclosure that the lawmaker had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist the previous Legislative Session.

— That December, Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala also resigned the Senate after reports of his alleged serial sexual harassment, including an accusation that he offered to trade his vote for sex with a female lobbyist.

— And last January, Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores and Democratic state Sen. Oscar Braynon II, both of South Florida, issued a statement admitting that their “longtime friendship evolved to a level that we deeply regret.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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