A Democratic political operative posed as Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in order to obtain his personal information from a third-party website, according to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The operative, Jacob Wagman of Indiana, was hired by the Democratic Party of Florida and Patronis’ opponent Jeremy Ring. Wagman owns Shield Political Research.
Despite the deception used to obtain the information, the Office of Statewide Prosecutor will not charge Wagman with a crime because his intent was not criminal instead for political research.
Patronis placed the blame squarely on his opponent, calling Jeremy Ring reckless.
“While I am relieved that FDLE investigators do not believe Ring’s researcher was trying to steal from me, the fact that he entered my personal information through a page that required him to confirm that he was ‘Jimmy Patronis’ is disturbing for two reasons; first, it shows how far Reckless Ring will go in this election, and second, it reveals loopholes in third-party state vendor agreements that must be addressed,” Patronis said. I plan to pursue legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will close these loopholes and make important reforms to safeguard Florida citizens’ personal information from criminals.”
State election campaign expenditure reports show Ring’s political committee paid the Democratic Party of Florida $22,000 on March 13, 2018.
On March 30, 2018 the Democratic Party of Florida paid Wagman’s company $10,011.80.
Campaign finance records also show that Ring’s political consultant Eric Johnson regularly uses Wagman to do research on political opponents.
The issue came to light in May when a news site reported that Patronis’ driver’s license had been suspended because of a computer glitch. Patronis was unaware of the suspension. The information used in the news report was a result of Wagman using Patronis’ identity to illegally obtain the information, which was than leaked to the news outlet. Political operatives leaking information to the news media about opponents is a common occurrence. Patronis officially complained to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which then asked FDLE to investigate.
Though prosecutors have declined to charge Wagman, the political fallout could further damage Ring’s prospects in November. The former state senator and Yahoo executive is trailing Patronis in recent polling and lagging in campaign contributions.