More problems arise with incoming Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Russell Weigel

Russell Weigel
Weigel is reportedly refusing to sever ties with his securities firm.

The new Commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation might not be starting his new any time soon, if at all.

That’s based on a letter Florida’s Chief Financial Officer sent Wednesday to incoming Commissioner Russell Weigel demanding he sever ties with his existing securities firm before taking his new position.

Weigel is an investment attorney in Coral Gables and, according to the letter, has indicated to Florida Department of Financial Services staff he plans to continue his relationship with his existing firm and continue collecting payments from efforts related to existing clients even after he assumes his new role.

The office considers maintaining that relationship and continuing to reap financial benefits a conflict in his new role.

“As I stated to you in our December 17, 2019, meeting, this Office insists that you end all relations with your securities firm prior to commencing your role as Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation. To be clear, this Office’s position has been and remains that you should end all business ties with your current firm if you still intend to begin your role as Commissioner of OFR,” wrote Florida Department of Financial Services Chief of Staff Peter Penrod.

The letter suggests Weigel’s start date could be further delayed if he even intends to take the position at all considering the Department of Financial Services demand that he sever financial ties with his securities firm. However, the letter originated from the Department of Financial Services, not the Office of Financial Regulation.

The OFR is not a constitutional office and reports to the full Governor’s cabinet, not just the CFO.

That’s a big deal for the office because Weigel’s start has already faced significant delays.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his cabinet voted to hire Weigel Dec. 3, more than two months ago.

In late January, CFO Jimmy Patronis, who oversees the OFR, told reporters the new commissioner would be beginning “literally any day now,” according to POLITICO Florida.

Patronis said the delay was normal because Weigel would need to relocate.

“There is housekeeping that needed to be taken care of in his home,” Patronis said, according to Politico. “The move to Tallahassee is not a move that happens overnight.”

The commissioner’s position has been vacant since July after Patronis pressured the office to fire former Commissioner Ronald Rubin over allegations of harassment, which they did.

The OFR did not immediately respond to inquiries about Weigel’s situation or whether he has responded to the letter. Patronis’ office said they have not gotten a response, but they did discuss the issue with Weigel and affirmed their belief that he should sever ties.

Still, Penrod praised Weigel’s experience in his letter.

Our Office is looking forward to working with you in your new role as the Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation,” the letter began. “Your experience as a securities lawyer makes you supremely qualified to lead OFR.”

Here is the letter from Patronis’ office:

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Cogent Observer

    February 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    The fact that this man is unable or unwilling to discern the need to divest himself of his financial interests is reason enough to disqualify him from the position. He apparently is either greedy or blind to inherent conflicts. Can the citizens of Florida trust him in this role? Should public dollars pay him? The answers look quite clear.

  • Stickler

    February 6, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Please note that it’s not the “Governor’s Cabinet.” Each Cabinet officer is independently elected. They serve collectively as the “Governor and Cabinet.” Just a clarification.

  • An interested party

    February 6, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I am curious if there has been a follow up article to the early December 2019 article reporting on Nikki Fried’s accusation that the Governor (and CFO Petronis and AG Moody) violated Florida’s Sunshine Laws in selecting the Commissioner. Any educated and enlightened observer could listen to the conference call tape and know “the fix was in”. It took the Governor longer to call the roll of Cabinet members listening in on the call than it did for him to nominate his candidate and get immediate approval from Petronis and Moody. I was told by an “insider” that the Governor, AG and CFO had met the week before the Cabinet conference call and made their selection. There’s more to this DeSantis fiasco, Ms. Taylor please dig into this.

  • Bill Newton

    February 6, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    Weigel probably expects to behave the same as former Gov. Scott and President Trump who both did not divest assets. I believe it was shown Scott’s blind trust was really 20-20 vision, and Trump’s profits are clear. So Weigel no doubt expect he will get the same treatment and his clients can profit from his new position just as so many others have.

  • A concerned voter

    February 6, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Ms. Taylor,
    It would be nice to have a follow up article to the one printed three days after the December 3, 2019 Cabinet conference call where Nikki Fried accuses (and rightly so) the Governor of violating Florida’s Sunshine laws in the Commissioner selection process. I heard through certain unnamed sources that the three Cabinet Republicans did, in fact, meet the Monday prior to the Cabinet conference call and make their selection. That would have been painfully obvious if you listened to the recording of that Cabinet conference call from December 3, 2019…it took the Governor longer to call the roll of Cabinet members on the call than it did to nominate then vote and approve the Governors candidate. The mere fact that there was absolutely NO discussion of the candidates or the Governors reasoning for his choice is a dead giveaway because it indicates that those discussions had already taken place prior to the December 3rd call.
    On another note, given the issues with former Commissioner Rubin one would think that given the extensive background investigation performed on the candidates that current professional or financial obligations should have been one of the items on their “checklist” that should have been considered and finalized before a selection of this magnitude was made.

Comments are closed.


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