The Florida Phoenix reported Thursday that Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, while sitting on the state Clemency Board last month asked an African-American man asking to have his civil rights restored after serving his sentence for a felony asked some odd questions: How many children did the man have, Patronis asked, and "how many different mothers to those children?"
Today, Patronis' Democratic challenger for the CFO post denounced the Republican incumbent.
"Where do we start beyond, 'unacceptable,' " said former state Sen. Jeremy Ring.
"I wholeheartedly denounce CFO Patronis' questioning during a clemency hearing of Erwin Jones. It is unconscionable that Mr. Jones, would be asked in a public hearing how many children and how many different mothers of those children. Not only should that have zero to do with Mr. Jones ability to have his rights restored, but smacks of racism, intolerance and ignorance. CFO Patronis should issue an immediately apology. This is just another example of why the current Florida Clemency process is unfair and tainted. It's no wonder a Federal Judge recently ruled that Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet issued a ruling to reform the entire practice of rights restoration. Currently, the clemency process is used to not only suppress votes but to ensure that "all" non violent ex-felons are never given an opportunity to lift themselves up and pursue their dreams. "
A spokeswoman for the Patronis campaign said that Ring had "stooped to a new low" and that Patronis' questions were perfectly appropriate given that he was inquiring about child support.
From Campaign Communications Director Katie Strickland:
"It's truly sad that Jeremy Ring's desperation has now led him to name calling and accusations of racism. Anyone who actually listens to the discussion from this clemency meeting knows that it centered on how to best protect the public good from a convicted felon with history of domestic violence. The domestic violence incidents involved different women, and in one case a woman was sent to the hospital and in another case a child was harmed.
"Because child support arrangements are coordinated through a child's mother, questions focused on child support arrangements and if child support was current. The focus of the conversation was about how to best protect all involved and the community from a convicted felon with a decades-long history of arrests.
"Jeremy Ring stooped to a new low today to try and distract from the fact that he's being heavily out-fundraised and out-worked by CFO Patronis. While the CFO is proposing ways to bring transparency to cryptocurrency in Florida and protect the pockets of Floridians, Jeremy Ring is opposing those reforms because he is invested in cryptocurrency and only looking out for his own pocket. Those are the facts Ring's name-calling won't change."
She sent a transcript:
#77 Erwin Jones is here.
Jones: Good morning
Scott: Good morning, how're you doing? Would you like to say something, or do you want us to ask questions?
Jones: Ask questions.
Scott: When is the last time you had a problem with the law?
Jones: About 2002.
Scott: 2002 and 2006 you got threats in violence, domestic incident reports against you, right?
Scott: 1990 threw a metal wheel at his girlfriend during a dispute which hit his 2-year-old son in his face. 2000 domestic battery which applicant punched his girlfriend in the face. 2003 punched his girlfriend in the face. So, you have a bunch of punching your girlfriend in the face stuff.
Jones: No, it umm…
Scott: What's the story?
Jones: I go to work, come home she take my money and I say I go and I say come home, I need my money so she call the police. But she did not press charges. She didn't pay the rent, I said I come I need my money. She call the police again.
Scott: So you hit her?
Jones: No. I didn't put my hand on her.
Commission on Offender Review Representative: In 2003 we do have the reports of the applicant start an argument and then claim he struck her with his fist in the face several times.
Patronis: Sir, do you have any children?
Patronis: How many children do you have?
Patronis: Six? How many different mothers to those children?
Patronis: Three? You paying your child support?
Jones: I owe 378.
Patronis: You owe 378?
Patronis: Have you been missing payments?
Jones: No, that's it.
Patronis: So you have been staying current with all your child support?
Commission on Offender Review Representative: We don't have any information on that.
Scott: You have got a lot of domestic violence stuff. So, tell me how I can justify giving you your civil rights when you keep getting…
Jones: I work every day.
Jones: I stay out of trouble.
Scott: It's not true? Or all of this stuff they keep on accusing you of things?
Jones: No, I am saying she was on drugs real bad and I just go to work, I pay the rent, her and her daughter, I go to work get the money pay the rent. A man came knocking on the door. I say you didn't pay the rent? I say I go but I leave I come back had the money, but she called the police so I hit her. I didn't ever touch her. I never touched her, never.
Scott: Okay, so…so thirty years ago you got your conviction of cocaine. How long have you worked, so you've worked at Crandon Cleaners since 2005?
Scott: And what do you do?
Jones: The spotter. Get the spots out the clothes.
Scott: Okay, so your domestic violence…the 2000 was not prosecuted, 2003 was not prosecuted. 2006 she's being threatened by you, 2006 I guess, whoever the victim was said she was being threatened by you, her ex-boyfriend. I guess you were mad because she was dating somebody. There was no arrest made. Wow. Why do these people accuse you and then don't…why is this happening?
Bondi: I was in domestic violence court for a very long time, it's typical. It's the cycle of domestic violence. I mean those are harder to prove than a homicide, Governor. They always have been. Umm, women recant they get back together with them and they're scared they don't show up. Multiple reasons. I always look to find out if it's true if there were injuries and if the injuries were witnessed by law enforcement consistent with what the victims says happened.
Scott: But it's hard to hold against him when he never gets arrested? Right? So, 2002 he didn't get arrested, no arrest was made in 2006, no arrest was made, so the last…
Bondi: Are they different women? That tells me something too.
Bondi: Governor, Miami they don't always prosecute possession of cocaine because their case load is so high. That's just the numbers. See no action on the cocaine charges either. If fire rescue was dispatched, the victim went to the hospital.
Scott: Which year? Which one was that one?
Bondi: That's what I always look at. 2000. Alright, so in 2000 the victim goes to the hospital.
Scott: So, in 2000 he was arrested?
Bondi: Right. Domestic Violence unit…so that's victim one. Then in 2003 I don't know if it's the same victim or not, umm…
Scott: So why don't they get convicted of anything?
Bondi: The victim flagged an officer down and was arrested in 2003. In 2017 he was drinking alcohol in public. It's just the nature of the charges in the jurisdiction.
Scott: Alright, let me look at it…I need some more time looking at it. Thank you. Good luck with your job.