What you need to know: the race for Florida CFO

10/24/2014

Chief financial officer Jeff Atwater seems all but assured reelection.

His opponent, Democrat William Rankin, has struggled to raise money, has no name recognition and is getting no help from the state party.

The bigger question seems to be whether Atwater is laying the groundwork for a 2018 run for governor.

The winner of the race will oversee state accounting, auditing, unclaimed property, risk management, workers’ compensation, the investment of state funds, insurance fraud investigations, insurance consumer services, licensing of insurance agents and agencies, funeral homes and cemeteries. The CFO also serves as the state fire marshal and is a member of the Florida Cabinet.

William ‘Will’ Rankin, 54 (Democrat)

Experience: Former director of asset management for Ohio State Treasury; 11 years in the U.S. Army; former Army criminal investigator; publisher of Millionaire Lifestyle magazine.

Education: Bachelor’s in economics, Xavier University.

What is the most important issue the CFO will face? “Restoring the public’s trust in state government by ensuring that the people of Florida come first before insurance companies and big business, and that the people have unfettered access to state programs and services that benefit their lives and their families.”

What should be done to make government more transparent? “Along with identifying and providing budget and contract information for public review, there should be an official summary document of each to accompany the public documents that fully explains in common language the relativeness of the documents and contents, and the budgetary and/or economic impact of each for the public’s discernment.”

How can the CFO’s office do a better job of protecting consumers? “As CFO, I will establish statewide community outreach programs to educate consumers on fraud-related activity, establish an independent Department of Financial Services hotline for financial consumer fraud concerns, facilitate better inter-agency investigative cooperation on consumer fraud issues, and establish a public financial consumer advocacy board.”

Campaign fundraising (cash only): $16,371

Assets: $384,631.

Liabilities: $3,397.

Income: $153,419.

Personal: Divorced; two grown children, Jennifer and Andrew.

Contact: rankinforcfo.com; info@rankinforcfo.com

Jeff Atwater, 56 (Republican)

Experience: Chief financial officer (2011-present); state Senate president (2008-10); state senator (2002-10); state representative (2000-02); Village of North Palm Beach vice mayor (1993).

Education: Bachelor’s in Finance, University of Florida; MBA, University of Florida.

What is the most important issue the CFO will face? “My primary concern is always making certain every dime we take from Florida’s taxpayers is put to use to its absolute, best purpose. Fiscal discipline when it comes to taxpayers’ hard-earned money ensures we keep taxes low, our economy growing and innovators creating jobs.”

What should be done to make government more transparent? “I went to bat for Florida’s taxpayers and revealed that 72 percent of their state budget is spent on contracts with outside parties. … Then I went further and placed every one of these contracts online, in a public Web portal known as FACTS.”

How can the CFO’s office do a better job of protecting consumers? Atwater cited some of his pro-consumer policies as CFO, including insurance fraud arrests, shutting down fraud rings and medical clinic scams, pushing for a Homeowners Claims Bill of Rights, and the use of a Department of Financial Services consumer help line.

Campaign fundraising (cash only): $2.9 million

Assets: $1.9 million

Liabilities: $54,103

Income: $198,184

Personal: Wife, Carole; children John, Amanda, Amy and Courtney

Contact: jeffatwater.com; jeff@jeffatwater.com

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article3346197.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article3346197.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article3346197.html#storylink=cpy

CFO Atwater faces challenge from public finances veteran

BY JAMES L. ROSICA
Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau
Published: October 9, 2014   |   Updated: October 9, 2014 at 07:02 PM

CFO Atwater faces challenge from public finances veteran

William Rankin

William Rankin

jrosica@tampatrib.com

(850) 765-0807

Twitter: @jlrosicaTBO

CFO foe rips ‘no voice’ for the people, he calls it ‘loud and clear’

October 04, 2014

By Charles Elmore, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

McClatchy-Tribune Information Service

Oct. 04–Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater holds a$3.6 million to$37,000 fundraising advantage, but challenger Will Rankin hopes torip up the script of an easy re-election win by casting the North Palm Beach banker as a lapdog of Gov. Rick Scott and big-money interests.

“He has no voice for the people,” said Rankin, 54, of Pembroke Pines. “In the 14 years he has been in Tallahassee, Atwater has done nothing measurable for average Floridians while continually supporting insurance companies and big business.”

Democrat Rankin acknowledges Republican Atwater, 56, climbed into the bully pulpit in a prominent way within the last year. Atwater asked the state’s insurance commissioner, who works in the CFO’s office, why property rates were not coming down after years of no hurricanes and falling reinsurance costs. Several insurers re-filed and most of the top 30 lowered rates.

“Of course he did that in an election year,” Rankin said. “But rates are higher than when he took office. People are not feeling better off. Where has he been for three years?”

Atwater says his voice has been “loud and clear,” from arrests of 5,000 insurance crooks to greater transparency with state contracts to pushing for accountability on rates.

“By calling out the industry and asking Florida’s Insurance Commissioner to explain why property rates were not falling in line with reductions in reinsurance, this year property rates are starting to fall,” Atwater said. “There’s no doubt that my efforts have directly resulted in positive results for ratepayers.”

Their campaign contribution records are a study in contrasts. Atwater’s list of 3,884 campaign contributions as of last week ranged alphabetically from A&A Registered Agent, an insurance concern in Coral Gables, to Zurich American Insurance Co., records show. Rankin’s biggest contributor: himself with about$15,000.

A former Republican, Rankin submits a resume that lists a campaign budget director’s role for GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and a post as director of asset management in the Ohio Treasurer’s Office in the 1990s. This year, he is running as a Democrat, a party convert not unlike Charlie Crist in the governor’s race. Unlike Crist, Rankin doesn’t have the backing of the state party.

Democrat Allie Braswell quit the race following disclosures he repeatedly filed for personal bankruptcy, leaving the field to Rankin. A state Democratic party spokesman declined comment.

Rankin’s website said he has endorsements from groups including the Democratic Veterans Caucus of Florida, the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

By the time voting begins, Rankin hopes to appeal to folks like state workers who were required to contribute 3 percent of their pay to their pensions in a plan backed by Scott, in the name of holding down costs to the state. Rankin says the pension fund is in better shape than it is often portrayed.

“Where was Atwater’s voice?” Rankin said. “He was silent.”

Rankin says he would push for repeal of the pension contribution by state workers and form an insurance commission to promote fair rates and practices, along with initiatives to boost jobs and the economy.

A financial disclosure form for Rankin lists less than$25,000 in checking, savings and investments and$300,000 in intellectual property including Millionaire Lifestyle magazine, a venture he said he was based in South Africa. Income includes a little less than$10,000 from military retirement and disability pay and$144,000 from a bankruptcy settlement involving a Swedish firm.

“Honestly, this would be the highest W-2 job I’ve had,” Rankin told The Post’s editorial board about the$129,000 CFO job.

Atwater disclosed a net worth at$1.9 million, including banking, retirement and investment accounts.

During his term, the GOP incumbent defended a 10 percent cap on annual rate increases for state-run insurer Citizens, a “glide path” he helped create while in the state legislature. He resisted others in his party who pushed for higher rates because he argued it could hurt families and economic growth.

Atwater also lobbied for a homeowner bill of rights passed by legislators last spring. He hailed the one-page document handed to consumers when they file claims as a “much-needed resource.” Some advocates wanted the bill to go further and take on more controversial topics, like limits on insurers’ tactics such as examination of consumers under oath.

Not all his appearances in the headlines were ones he welcomed. Atwater, who appoints two of nine board members to Citizens and helps oversee its management, met with the principal of a West Palm Beach law firm, Scott Link, two days before the Citizens board approved a controversial$6.5 million contract with Link’s firm, The Post reported in January.

Atwater’s aides said the meeting was purely to help consumers resolve insurance problems and was unrelated to Atwater’s interest in the presidency of Florida Atlantic University, where Scott Link’s spouse and firm partner Wendy Link served as one of 15 members of FAU’s search committee. Atwater interviewed for the FAU job but was not named a finalist.

As CFO, Atwater touts improved transparency inTallahassee by putting the state’s$55 billion in private contracts online.U.S. Public Interest Research Group credited his efforts in raising its transparency grade forFlorida from a D to an A-minus and a No. 3 ranking in the country, he said.

Atwater holds a 43 percent to 27 percent advantage in a poll released last week by theFlorida Chamber Political Institute. That leaves Rankin to find whatever encouragement he can from this statistic: Nearly 30 percent were undecided.

___

(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com

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The Bradenton Times – Candidate Profile: FL CFO: Will Rankin

Candidate Profile: FL CFO: Will Rankin

Published Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:06 am

 

Candidate: Will Rankin

Office: Florida CFO

Party: Democrat

 

Former Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Treasury and former Director of Florida’s statewide 2000 Census operation, Will Rankin takes on incumbent Republican Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Rankin is originally from the Midwest, but decided to move to the Sunshine State for his work on the 2000 Census. He hopes to focus on improving economic opportunities Floridians and helping to maintain a stable job environment, competitive public education, while improving access to health care if elected.

As Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Treasury, he was responsible for the accountability and safe keeping of over the state’s public trust and public retirement funds, worth over $120 billion.

While there, he helped restructure and streamline operations, while implementing new technologies, improving employee efficiencies, and lowering costs to taxpayers. He hopes to do the same for Florida’s Department of Financial Services and at the State Board of Administration if elected.

 

Read Article:

http://www.thebradentontimes.com/news/2014/09/25/election_2014/candidate_profile_fl_cfo_will_rankin/#.VCofzhbIii-

 

CLTAMPA.com: CFO candidate Will Rankin introduces himself to Hillsborough County Democrats

Will Rankin addressed the members of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Monday night, where he asked for their vote in November.

But first he addressed the question that you may be asking yourself right now: Who is Will Rankin?

He’s the Democrat running for Chief Financial Officer against Republican Jeff Atwater, but he began his presentation at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County in Ybor City by acknowledging that a lot of folks don’t know who he is, or what he’s running for. Or maybe even what the position of CFO is.

Oh, and he’s in the red in terms of the funding for his race. The Division of Elections website shows him having raised $15,210 as of September 5th, but he’s spent almost twice that much in the race — $28,781, to be precise.

Meanwhile Jeff Atwater has raised over $2.5 million so far.

But Rankin is a fun candidate to listen to.

Referring to “Tricky Ricky” Scott and his GOP opponent as “Rubber Stamp Jeff,” Rankin gave a quick biography of himself and what he intends to do once he achieves what would appear to be a near miracle in upending Atwater. That would include teaming up with a newly elected Charlie Crist to repeal a vote that Scott, Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam committed to early on in 2011.

That’s when the Cabinet reversed the previous decision to provide automatic restoration of civil and voting rights to certain ex-felons convicted of less severe crimes. Then-Governor Charlie Crist was able to persuade fellow Cabinet members Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson to pass the vote early on in 2007.

“It’s only going to take two of us to be able to change that,” he said on Monday night. He said that as CFO, teaming up with Crist and presumably swaying another Cabinet member, all sorts of policies and procedures could be changed with him in Tallahassee.

A native from Cincinnati, Rankin served 11 years in the US Army. He doesn’t list a resume per se on his website, but a campaign aide distributed a hard copy that indicates he served as the Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Treasury and as an advisor to the state Treasurer. He worked on the U.S. Congressional 2000 Census Monitoring Board, and says he’s spent the past 12 years working as an entrepreneur and private business owner in South Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

But for Democrats who had to endure the Allie Brasswell debacle, at least he’s a live, energetic human being, and he definitely delivers the red meat when it comes to bashing his opponent.

He calls Jeff Atwater a “really interesting cat,” saying that it simply amazes him “what money and name recognition will do” for some people. 

“My guy [Atwater] claims to be a fifth generation Floridian. But he’s born in Missouri. Even if he’s fifth generation, but what do you bring to the table that’s different for the last 16 years? My guy’s been in the state Legislature for 14 years. And, as far as I know, does anybody feel that Jeff Atwater has done anything for you? He’s done things for the insurance companies, banking, big business. But he hasn’t done anything for the average citizen. “

He also blasted Scott, Atwater and Pam Bondi for their work on the State Board of Administration, and specifically for supporting legislation that requires state employees to contribute 3 percent of their paychecks to their retirement.

“You’ve got a crook of a governor, you’ve got an incompetent CFO as a banker, and you’ve got an Attorney General who has never, ever had any business experience,” he began, getting on a verbal roll. “[Bondi] has no idea about anything about money. These are the people watching over our state assets for our public employees. These are the same people who advocated the 3 percent contribution participation for public employees. I’ve looked at the figures. I’ve looked at the consultants report. It was a boondoggle! There’s no shortcoming in the retirement fund! There’s none at all. As matter of fact, it’s one of the soundest retirement funds … by industry standards, a retirement fund is fully funded at 80 percent or more. Florida is at 82 percent. It was a boondoggle! One of the first things I’m going to do is work with the new governor and the Cabinet and the Legislature to get that repealed, and as CFO I will have the numbers and I will stand up there every day if I have to in Tallahassee and yell this out loud as I much as I can, and have press conferences every day until people realize it was a lie, and that the hardworking employees deserve that money back.”

Although the 50 or so Hillsborough County Democrats in attendance on Monday night needn’t be reminded of the importance of the midterm elections, Rankin opted to inform them that if they didn’t come out in strong numbers in 2014, the state GOP would only grow stronger.

“Four years from now Rick Scott is going to run for U.S. Senate — Bill Nelson’s seat,” he warned. “Jeff Atwater is potentially going to be your next governor, and we’re going to be playing musical chairs. The Republican Party is going to grow stronger, and we have the ability to stop that RIGHT NOW! It’s your future.”

He then said his campaign could use any financial contributions as possible, and hung out until the end of the meeting. 

Will Rankin remains a decided underdog in the CFO race, but at least a group of Hillsborough Democrats now can match the name and the face. They were probably always going to vote for him, but may do so with a little more enthusiasm.

 

READ THE ARTICLE HERE.

Democratic CFO candidate William Rankin attacks Jeff Atwater’s job performance

Charlie Crist isn’t the only former Republican-turned-Democrat running for major statewide office this November: Chief Financial Officer candidate William Rankin wants to join him.

The 54-year-old Deerfield Beach businessman said that despite a meager background in politics — he served as budget director for Jack Kemp’s 1996 vice presidential campaign — he represents the best interests of Floridians. That’s certainly more than current CFO Jeff Atwater can claim, he told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on Friday.

Rankin said he decided to run for CFO because he was tired of the rancor and misguided action in state politics. He said he switched in 2004 from being a Republican to an independent for eight years for similar reasons. As a former Army police officer and fraud investigator, he said he opposed the Iraq War for being unjustified and “did not want to be connected” to the Bush family or the Republican platform any longer, despite his prior connections to Kemp and Bob Dole, whom he described as moderate.

He said he registered as a Democrat in 2012 after repeated requests by state Democrats to run for office. The state Democratic party currently is not supporting Rankin, and he has been left out of Democratic campaign events.

His discussion with the Times was light on details about what he would do if elected, but said he would immediately work to show voters that Atwater and Republicans were being misleading about the state’s retirement fund for workers being insolvent. He said Tallahassee had shifted the burden to workers to pay in 3 percent to the pension fund under the guise that all obligations couldn’t be paid, when the fund was never designed to pay all obligations at once, anyway.

He also said as a member of the elected Cabinet, he would propose to the governor and agricultural commissioner to create an insurance reform commission to revamp how the industry operates in the state. He said the current Office of Insurance Regulation “has no teeth” and that insurance companies do whatever they want in Florida.

“They act with impunity, and they know it. And they have the full support of this governor, and this CFO, and the entire Cabinet, and that’s why, in large part they are funding their campaigns,” Rankin said. “I know Atwater’s already received several hundreds of thousands of dollars from the insurance companies and insurance executives.”

Rankin said Atwater, a former state representative and senator, “had little qualifications to be CFO,” despite a background in banking. He said the CFO does a lot more than handle finances, and Atwater has failed as an independently elected advocate for Florida’s residents.

He accused Atwater of abusing his office to serve as a “lapdog of Rick Scott” and promote conservative legislation and viewpoints. Rankin used Atwater’s former position with Riverside National Bank as an example of how the Republican doesn’t take responsibility for his actions (Atwater’s opponent in 2010, one-time state representative Loranne Ausley, used a similar attack).

Atwater was a former executive vice president for marketing but left in 2009, before the bank was shut down in 2010 by federal regulators the following year for being unable to meet debt obligations. He claimed he was not in charge of financial decisions and was not a member of the bank’s board of directors. Some brochures had listed Atwater as bank president for Palm Beach and Broward counties.

“He doesn’t do anything wrong, because he really doesn’t do anything at all, and I really thought that the people of Florida deserve something more,” Rankin said. He added that Atwater has shown voters he didn’t want to be CFO after his controversial inclusion as a finalist candidate to be president of Florida Atlantic University, and has failed to deliver on promises of job growth and lower insurance rates.
“Here we are, four years later, and we have no more sustainable jobs than we had when he started and insurance rates are higher than when he started.”

Tampa Bay Times Article:

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/democratic-cfo-candidate-william-rankin-attacks-jeff-atwaters-job/2196346?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tampabaycom%2Fblogs%2Fbuzz-heds+(The+Buzz%3A+Florida+Politics+%7C+Headlines)

Orlando Sentenial: South Florida businessman William Rankin to run for state CFO as Democrat

Scott Powers / Central Florida Political Pulse

US Army Veteran and businessman William Rankin of Fort Lauderdale announced today he is running for the Democratic nomination for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer against incumbent Republican Jeff Atwater.

He’s the only Democrat running for that job so far, now that the Florida Democratic Party’s pick, Allie Braswell had to drop out two days after he announced.

Rankin made his announcement independent of the party, with a late-night e-mail blast Tuesday night.

He’s 53, and his announcement and website say he’s a businessman though they are vague about the businesses or what he’s been doing lately.

His past experience includes 11 years in the Army during which he was a special agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, investigating economic/white collar crimes and government contract fraud, and conducting surveys on government agencies to reduce fraud, waste and abuse. He also spent time in the Ohio Treasurer’s office overseeing that state’s $120 billion Public Funds Trust.

He claims no previous political experience, though his campaign website, rankin4cfo.com does note that he was former cirector of the Florida State Census Committee, managing Florida’s statewide census campaign and coordinated efforts for the 2000 Census.

Little-known FL Dem announces CFO campaign in dark of night

It’s 10:13 p.m., do you know who your Democratic CFO candidate is? Well, just wait 60 seconds, then.

At 10:14 p.m., the oddest of all times for a political announcement, businessman William Rankin announced he’d challenge state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

A retired vet, businessman and former Ohio state treasury official, Rankin has a good bio on paper. So maybe the dark-of-night-campaign announcement forshadows a dark-horse campaign.

But already you have to wonder about the success of a campaign against a seasoned and well-funded pol like Atwater. Still, compared to the last Democrat running for the office, Allie Braswell, Rankin doesn’t look as if he’ll embarrass the party.

Here’s the press release:

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Retired US Army Veteran and businessman William Rankin announced today he is running for the Democratic nomination for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.Rankin is the former Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Treasury, former Director of Florida’s statewide 2000 Census operation, and a former Outreach Director for the U.S. Congressional 2000 Census Oversight Board. 

William Rankin said, “I am excited to join the race for CFO. This campaign is about us, the people of Florida, and bringing the voice of the people back to Tallahassee.  We must promote ideas and actions that benefit our economy and restore public trust in our government. This campaign is about what we can do together to bring political balance, compassion, and common sense to the state capital.”

“I believe in my fellow hardworking Floridians.  We deserve a breath of fresh air and a fair minded state leader who will look out for every Floridian.  I will bring to Tallahassee new vision and leadership that promotes fairness and prosperity for the people of the state,” added Rankin.

Rankin, 53, the father of two grown children, is originally from the Midwest.  Rankin fell in love with Florida when he came to join the state’s 2000 Census efforts, and has been a resident every since.  Rankin’s humble background enables him to understand the everyday struggles of fellow Floridians.  These challenges include economic opportunities, stable job environment, competitive public education, affordable and accessible health care and housing in the state.

At the Ohio’s State Treasury, Rankin was responsible for the accountability and safe keeping of Ohio’s over $120 billion public trust and public retirement funds.  In that position, Rankin used his professional experience and creativity to restructure and streamline operations.  Rankin implemented new technologies, improved employee efficiencies, and reduced costs to the state. As CFO, Rankin plans to do the same at Florida’s Department of Financial Services and at the State Board of Administration (SBA).

As a Special Agent for the Army, Rankin specialized in economic fraud criminal investigations.  In that role he also performed Crime Prevention Analysis on government agencies to reduce and deter fraud, waste, abuse and theft.  He also implemented innovative policies and procedures in those agencies, and again, he plans to do the same for Florida as CFO.

During the course of his campaign, Rankin, who holds a degree in Business Administration and Economics, promises to address important issues that affect every Floridian such as full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and insurance reform to name a few.

Meet William Rankin, the Dem challenging CFO Atwater

William Rankin, a Democratic Fort Lauderdale businessman, former Ohio treasury official, and Army veteran, formally announced his candidacy for chief financial officer tonight.

From his news release:

Rankin is the former Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Treasury, former Director of Florida’s statewide 2000 Census operation, and a former Outreach Director for the U.S. Congressional 2000 Census Oversight Board.

William Rankin said, “I am excited to join the race for CFO. This campaign is about us, the people of Florida, and bringing the voice of the people back to Tallahassee.  We must promote ideas and actions that benefit our economy and restore public trust in our government. This campaign is about what we can do together to bring political balance, compassion, and common sense to the state capital.”

“I believe in my fellow hardworking Floridians.  We deserve a breath of fresh air and a fair minded state leader who will look out for every Floridian.  I will bring to Tallahassee new vision and leadership that promotes fairness and prosperity for the people of the state,” added Rankin.

Rankin, 53, the father of two grown children, is originally from the Midwest.  Rankin fell in love with Florida when he came to join the state’s 2000 Census efforts, and has been a resident every since.  Rankin’s humble background enables him to understand the everyday struggles of fellow Floridians.  These challenges include economic opportunities, stable job environment, competitive public education, affordable and accessible health care and housing in the state.

At the Ohio’s State Treasury, Rankin was responsible for the accountability and safe keeping of Ohio’s over $120 billion public trust and public retirement funds.  In that position, Rankin used his professional experience and creativity to restructure and streamline operations.  Rankin implemented new technologies, improved employee efficiencies, and reduced costs to the state. As CFO, Rankin plans to do the same at Florida’s Department of Financial Services and at the State Board of Administration (SBA).

As a Special Agent for the Army, Rankin specialized in economic fraud criminal investigations.  In that role he also performed Crime Prevention Analysis on government agencies to reduce and deter fraud, waste, abuse and theft.  He also implemented innovative policies and procedures in those agencies, and again, he plans to do the same for Florida as CFO.

During the course of his campaign, Rankin, who holds a degree in Business Administration and Economics, promises to address important issues that affect every Floridian such as full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and insurance reform to name a few.