Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried sent a letter to her fellow members of the Florida Cabinet highlighting the need for transparency in selecting an Interim Commissioner for the Office of Financial Regulation.
The letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis comes following the Cabinet’s vote yesterday to terminate the now-former OFR Commissioner, in which Fried withheld her vote due to the lack of public notice for the vote taking place. Fried is calling for the next Cabinet meeting agenda to include “discussion that clearly lays out the open, transparent process through which we will select the Interim Commissioner.”
The letter, hand-delivered to Cabinet members today, may be viewed on Twitter here, and reads as follows:
July 26, 2019
Governor Ron DeSantis
Attorney General Ashley Moody
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
I write today to express concern regarding the process through which we, as members of the Florida Cabinet, will select an Interim Commissioner for the Office of Financial Regulation, and ultimately a permanent Commissioner.
As you know, I withheld voting yesterday on the termination of the now-prior Commissioner, due to the failure of that action to be transparently placed on the Cabinet agenda, and the lack of public notice for said action. I would direct you to Attorney General Opinion 2003-53, which states in part:
“[T]his office would strongly recommend the [public board] postpone formal action on controversial matters coming before the board at a meeting where the public has not been given notice that such an issue will be discussed.”
At no time did either formal notice of yesterday’s vote take place. We should not take such actions so cavalierly. As I stated then, I join you in supporting the termination of the now-former Commissioner. However, the laws of the State of Florida exist to be followed, in letter and in spirit, and we as public servants should abide by them when conducting the people’s business.
To that end, I expect that the agenda for the subsequent meeting of the Cabinet will include discussion that clearly lays out the open, transparent process through which we will select the Interim Commissioner. This should include precise timelines and processes for the posting, recruitment, review of qualifications, current vetting procedures, public interviews, and selection.
I also expect that we will discuss the more “thorough and intense” process by which the background and character of applicants will be investigated, as indicated by the Chief Financial Officer.
Finally, I expect that these processes and expectations will be discussed and approved prior to any vote on an Interim Commissioner in subsequent Cabinet meetings.
Commissioner of Agriculture
cc: Beau Beaubien, Director of Cabinet Affairs, Executive Office of the Governor
Erin Sumpter, Director of Cabinet Affairs, Office of the Attorney General
Robert Tornillo, Director of Cabinet Affairs, Office of the Chief Financial Officer