Florida’s financial regulator announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, nearly a month after CFO Jimmy Patronis said he wanted him gone.
Drew Breakspear, 72, has been commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation since 2012, overseeing the licensing and regulating of banks, check-cashing stores and payday loan shops at a salary of $135,000.
But Patronis has wanted Breakspear gone for nearly a month, citing “concerns over the lack of cooperation, responsiveness, and communication” in a May 3 email to Breakspear. And Gov. Rick Scott has wanted to get rid of Breakspear since 2015, for reasons Scott has never said.
In a letter to the Cabinet, the commissioner wrote that he was proud of the work he had done but would resign June 30.
Despite earlier criticism, Patronis praised Breakspear on Friday.
“During his time as commissioner, he had an understanding of the financial needs of Floridians, and it is my hope his years of service will help ensure a smooth transition for Florida consumers and stakeholders,” Patronis said. “I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Breakspear resisted resigning until this week, after the CFO’s office gave the media a 2017 sexual harassment case between two OFR employees as evidence of displeasure with Breakspear’s management style. The office also cited his failure to meet with “staff and stakeholders” and other issues.
Breakspear said Thursday that neither the CFO nor anyone from the CFO’s office had ever expressed displeasure over the harassment case with him.
“No one from the CFO’s office discussed this with me,” Breakspear said in a statement to the Herald/Times on Thursday, before he announced his resignation. “The first time we learned of the CFO’s displeasure with this matter was in media reports.”
And, he added, no one had ever expressed any displeasure with his performance. If he had known, he would have addressed their concerns, he said.
“I am extremely disappointed that, if the CFO had concerns over the past 10 months, I was not contacted by him so that his concerns could have been addressed immediately,” Breakspear said.
Who will replace Breakspear is unknown. The OFR commissioner reports to Patronis, Scott and the two other members of the Florida Cabinet, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Patronis, appointed by Scott to the CFO post in 2017, is running for re-election.