Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis is going to look at who owns private vendors dealing with the state government.
Patronis announced at the state Cabinet meeting on Thursday that his office will request “that private vendors to the state of Florida verify whether they are majority-owned by United States interests” which “will be used to better identify businesses that are majority-Communist Party of China owned that do business with the state of Florida.”
Last month, 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.
Patronis weighed in on Thursday on the actions his office will take.
“Like many states, Florida often uses private sector partners to provide critical services to our citizens. As the Department of Financial Services (DFS) issues payments to these vendors for their services to other state agencies, we think it’s a prudent step to see if some of these businesses may be controlled or owned by the Chinese government. By calling on businesses to self-identify whether they’re majority American-owned, we’ll be able to narrow the scope of our inquiry,” Patronis said before talking about the letter he sent in April.
“In April, my office issued a demand letter to the Chinese government for the harm they have caused to our citizens and state finances because of their documented cover-up of COVID-19. Since they’ve chosen to not respond to our official transmission, we’re going to follow through in our commitment of identifying Chinese owned businesses that do business with the State of Florida. This will provide us information should Florida need to withhold payments to these businesses as federal leaders sort out potential financial impacts against the Communist Party of China,” Patronis said.
Currently, more than 100,000 active vendors are registered with the Department of Financial Services and do business with the state government. Patronis sent out a letter to those vendors this week, explaining his office’s efforts.
“The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is attempting to identify state vendors who are owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China. DFS is charged with processing payments on behalf of the State of Florida to its vendors. In furtherance of these duties, the Department is conducting a survey of vendor ownership to determine the extent to which vendors doing business with the state are owned or controlled by United States interests,” Patronis wrote.
“Accordingly, if you are a vendor that is domiciled in the United States and controlled directly or indirectly at all levels (meaning at least fifty percent (50.00 percent) ownership or more) by United States citizens and entities (‘U.S. Interests’), you are hereby requested to respond within 30 days by verifying your status as a company owned and controlled by U.S. Interests, in order to avoid necessary follow up by the Department,” he added. “If you are not included in the above because you are not owned or controlled by U.S. Interests, your response stating so is also requested,” he added.
Kevin Derby can be reached at email@example.com.