ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s chief financial officer is an important position many people probably know little about.
Aside from handling the state’s accounts, the CFO handles insurance issues for the state, oversees insurance agents and agencies, oversees the office of insurance regulation. The office also handles public assistance fraud, auditing spending at state agencies, workers’ compensation, and deals with unclaimed property.
The CFO is also the state’s fire marshal, which investigates fires to determine if they were accidental or intentionally set.
The CFO also sits on the Florida Cabinet to advise the governor, preside over whether a former felon should get their civil rights back and discuss issues like state land, development and permitting.
The incumbent chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, is running for reelection. The Republican faces a longshot challenge from Adam Hattersley, a Navy veteran and former state representative.
Let’s meet the candidates.
Jimmy Patronis is a panhandle restauranteur who started his political career as a member of the Florida Elections Commission before serving in the Florida House of Representatives for eight years, followed by a stint on Florida’s Public Service Commission, which oversees utility companies and utility rates, before being elected as CFO in 2018.
Patronis has won praise for his work increasing the state’s fiscal transparency and fighting to reform benefits for firefighters diagnosed with cancer, and expanding mental health benefits for first responders.
He also was supportive of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to reopen the state amid the COVID pandemic and fought to stop lawsuits against businesses that reopened during the pandemic.
He was also criticized for public stunts to get businesses to leave California because of the state’s COVID protocols, including In-N-Out Burger.
Adam Hattersley is a Navy veteran, engineer and Riverview-based small business owner who joined the Florida House of Representatives in 2018, serving until 2020. His biggest success was passing a bill that helped service members and veterans get postsecondary credit or career education clock hours at Florida’s public colleges and universities for any college-level training acquired in the military.
He also fought to get veterans court programs in each judicial circuit, waiving fees for medical marijuana cards for service-disabled veterans, a prescription insulin cap and prohibiting state agencies from denying licenses to workers in default on student loans.
Hattersley said he’s going to focus hard on insurance costs and government transparency.
You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below: