Last week, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai to demand financial restitution from the Communist Party of China (CPC) for significant harm to the state of Florida and its residents related to CPC’s incompetent and fraudulent actions in response to the early outbreak of COVID-19.
In the letter, the CFO wrote his office will review state vendors to identify Chinese owned or controlled businesses that are set to receive a payment from the state. The payments could potentially be withheld to offset costs to the state of Florida.
The letter is below.
Dear Ambassador Tiankai:
This correspondence serves as an official Demand Letter to the Communist Party of China (CPC) from the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida. As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, I am responsible for the fiscal integrity of the State of Florida and for settling accounts of the state. The CPC’s incompetent and fraudulent actions in response to the early outbreak of COVID-19 are a direct and proximate cause to untold human suffering and economic harm to the State of Florida. As such, I am demanding financial restitution from the CPC for this significant harm to the State of Florida and its residents. As has been widely reported in the media and included in the State of Missouri’s lawsuit against CPC, the factual basis for Florida’s claims are outlined below:
• Denying the virus could be transmitted between humans–Chinese officials neglected to report the potential for human-to-human transmission to the World Health Organization for weeks.
• Silencing whistleblowers–Chinese officials reportedly arrested eight doctors and forcibly silenced others from speaking out about the novel contagion as it spread from Wuhan. Additionally, reports have arisen that journalists covering the outbreak in the early stages disappeared.
• Failing to contain the outbreak–While denying human-to-human transmission, Chinese officials held off on containing the outbreak. The Chinese government took no serious steps to contain the outbreak until January 23—after community spread took hold across multiple regions.
• Withholding personal protective equipment (PPE)–Reports indicate that Chinese officials, began hoarding quality PPE at the same time they were concealing the extent of the outbreak, permitting only defective PPE to be exported to the rest of the world. This hoarding endangered the lives of health care workers and first responders in the State of Florida and across the world.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused hardship in Florida and across the globe—death, isolation from sick and dying loved ones, massive unemployment, economic devastation, uncertainty, and billions of dollars in economic losses. The CPC must be held legally responsible.
My office is reviewing two options to pursue recovery of these funds. First, we are in the process of identifying Chinese-owned and controlled companies who have unclaimed property currently in the possession of the State of Florida.
Second, my office will also conduct a thorough review of Florida’s vendors to identify Chinese owned or controlled companies set to receive a payment from the State of Florida. If such companies are identified, pending payments from the State of Florida may be withheld as necessary to offset the debt CPC owes the people of Florida. Once this information is obtained, my office will weigh all legal options to best serve the people of Florida.
Additionally, my Office will work with Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody to discuss the potential of filing a civil action in Federal Court. As the State’s Chief Financial Officer, I will aggressively protect the fiscal wellbeing of Florida residents and will deploy all available options in this pursuit.