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Corona Economics

Jimmy Patronis takes action to identify Chinese government owned businesses in Florida

Patronis’ warning shot fell on deaf ears.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced Thursday that his office will now work to identify vendors in Florida who are owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China after a warning letter sent to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States fell on deaf ears.

In the letter sent in early April, Patronis warned the Chinese Ambassador that his office will identify Chinese owned or controlled businesses that are owed money from the state and warned they may withhold payments to offset the costs incurred to the state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In April, my office issued a demand letter to the Chinese government for the harm they have caused to our citizens and state finances because of their documented cover-up of COVID-19. Since they’ve chosen to not respond to our official transmission, we’re going to follow through in our commitment of identifying Chinese owned businesses that do business with the State of Florida. This will provide us information should Florida need to withhold payments to these businesses as federal leaders sort out potential financial impacts against the Communist Party of China.”

At a Florida Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Patronis explained that his office has asked the more than 1,000 private vendors to the state of Florida to verify they are majority-owned by United States interests.

“Like many states, Florida often uses private sector partners to provide critical services to our citizens,” Patronis said in a statement. “As the Department of Financial Services (DFS) issues payments to these vendors for their services to other state agencies, we think it’s a prudent step to see if some of these businesses may be controlled or owned by the Chinese government. By calling on businesses to self-identify whether they’re majority American-owned, we’ll be able to narrow the scope of our inquiry.”

In a communication sample provided by the Department of Financial Services, the correspondence titled ‘Vendor Ownership Survey’ states the following to vendors:

“Thank you for your continued partnership with the State of Florida, United States of America. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is attempting to identify state vendors who are owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China. DFS is charged with processing payments on behalf of the State of Florida to its vendors. In furtherance of these duties, the Department is conducting a survey of vendor ownership to determine the extent to which vendors doing business with the state are owned or controlled by United States interests,” the correspondence reads.

 “Accordingly, if you are a vendor that is domiciled in the United States and controlled directly or indirectly at all levels (meaning at least fifty percent (50.00%) ownership or more) by United States citizens and entities (“U.S. Interests”), you are hereby requested to respond within 30 days by verifying your status as a company owned and controlled by U.S. Interests, in order to avoid necessary follow up by the Department. If you are not included in the above because you are not owned or controlled by U.S. Interests, your response stating so is also requested,” the correspondence concludes.

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at jason@floridapolitics.com or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

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