The Phoenix Flyer

Patronis’ Democratic opponent calls him “unfit to serve” over comment to African-American clemency applicant; Patronis releases meeting transcript

By: - July 6, 2018 6:33 pm

The campaign for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has released a statement in response to criticism from two Democratic candidates – CFO Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw (a member of the Florida House of Representatives) in response to a recent Florida Phoenix story.

The story, published Thursday, highlighted a moment during the June 14 clemency hearing in Tallahassee where Patronis asked African-American applicant Erwin Jones how many children he had and “how many different mothers to those children?”

Ring issued a statement calling Patronis “unfit to serve” and demanded he recuse himself from any future clemency hearings. The next hearing is set for September, roughly a month before voters decide on the Amendment 4 restoration of felons’ voting rights (with the exception of those convicted of homicide or sexual offenses).

“Jimmy Patronis has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is unfit to serve on the Clemency Board. Period,” Ring said in the email. “Can you imagine waiting years to have the opportunity to have your civil rights restored and when the day finally comes for you to have that chance you get asked about how often you go to church or how many children you have and by how many different mothers? It’s disgusting, it reeks of racism, and this type of intolerance and ignorance is unacceptable in the Florida Cabinet. CFO Patronis should not only be ashamed of himself, he should also recuse himself from any future clemency hearings.”

In a separate statement issued by Shaw, the state representative labeled Patronis’s questions “racially biased” and included a call for Patronis to “apologize to Mr. Jones and to the African-American community for even considering, lest uttering such a question.”

Shaw went on to say that if the number of children and mothers were a standard for clemency, President Trump would not be eligible should he apply.

The Patronis campaign said in a release that it is “sad” that 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.”

The Patronis campaign’s email also included a transcript of the exchange.

“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,” said the release.

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CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers

CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.