[Tallahassee, FL] In keeping with his campaign promises, Gov. Rick Scott is relaxing regulations and firing regulators. And not everyone is happy about it.
The latest department to get the axe: Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR). The OFR is the state’s financial services regulatory agency. It investigates reports of fraud in the mortgage, securities and banking industries.
It also handles professional licenses for the financial sector. And in the wake of the GIANT financial crisis the country, it would seem that the OFR is a good thing, something we need to stave off disasters and white-collar crooks in the future.
But now – thanks to Gov. Scott’s signature on the 2012-13 budget – the OFR has to do more with considerably less.
That’s right, at a time when federal caseloads are growing rapidly, Gov. Scott has reduced the OFR’s budget by $3.5 million and eliminated 81 jobs. The OFR will also close offices in Pensacola, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and Fort Myers.
That leaves only 36 investigators for the entire state. And they didn’t have enough people on the job before the house cleaning operation.
The Office of Financial Regulation website clearly spells out its mission:
“Protecting the citizens of Florida by carrying out the banking, securities and financial laws of the state efficiently and effectively and providing regulation of business that promotes the sound growth and development of Florida’s economy.”
So, can that mission be carried out with a skeleton staff?
Not everyone thinks so. You know, like the sheriff’s office and the top government lawyer from one of the biggest counties in the state.
Business Journal previously reported that both the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said that it will be harder to put fraudsters behind bears without the help of the OFR.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Office of Financial Regulation