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CFO Jimmy Patronis Statement on Governor Ron DeSantis Approval of Foreign Influence Legislation

6/7/2021

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 7, 2021
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842
CFO Jimmy Patronis Statement on Governor Ron DeSantis Approval of Foreign Influence Legislation
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a statement applauding Governor Ron DeSantis’ signing of House Bill 7017, legislation aimed at combating undue foreign influence in Florida. Last year, CFO Patronis issued a directive strengthening transparency requirements for vendors that do business with the Department of Financial Services (DFS).
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “As Florida’s CFO, I’ve made it my mission to safeguard taxpayer dollars and fight for fiscal transparency to ensure Floridians know how their taxes are spent and that they are protected from harmful foreign influence. I applaud Governor DeSantis for signing HB 7017 today that will protect public dollars, strengthen transparency and accountability of public gifts, grants and contracts, and shed light on foreign support for public entities. As we’ve seen with recent meddling from China on U.S. funded research projects now more than ever, it’s imperative that we know where and how our tax dollars are spent and that they’re not possibly being used against us. Thank you to Governor DeSantis, President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls, Senator Diaz and Representative Grall for their efforts to help shed light on who our state does business with and further protect taxpayer dollars.”
 
House Bill 7017 requires public entities to disclose gifts from foreign countries, increases review standards of grant applicants and vendors who receive state funds to review foreign connections, and thorough examination of foreign applicants for research positions and foreign travel or activities of employees of major research institutions. The bill requires state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services and requires universities and colleges to disclose foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the State University System Board of Governors or Department of Education. Applicants must disclose certain foreign financial connections with any of seven countries of concern (Russia, PRC, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela). The bill provides for enforcement of disclosure requirements and operational audits after implementation of screening requirements.
 
Senator Manny Diaz said, “I applaud Governor DeSantis signing of HB 7017 to protect the integrity of our state contracting system, research institutions, and vendor services from unjust foreign influence.  I also thank CFO Patronis for his support of this legislation and our shared fight to ensure transparency over Florida’s finances.”
 
Representative Erin Grall said, “Thank you to Governor DeSantis and CFO Patronis for their unwavering support of vital foreign influence protection measures to ensure transparency over taxpayer dollars in Florida. I was proud to fight this year for protections that will provide Floridians further insight into how their taxes are used and shield our state institutions from harmful outside influence.”
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).