Report: Sink sunk Florida and shirked responsibility for it

posted at 12:15 pm on September 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats thought they dodged a bullet when billionaire and real-estate speculator Jeff Green flamed out in the Florida Senate primary, as they worried about being able to run on their anti-speculator class warfare rhetoric in the general election.  As it turns out, Green presented less of a problem than Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for Governor and the current chief financial officer of the state.  At least Green correctly guessed on the direction of the market — and didn’t try to shirk responsibility for it later, as a new report from the St. Petersburg Times shows that Sink did:

Three years ago, the state of Florida made bad investments that lost hundreds of millions in value. State leaders blamed the sharks of Wall Street, who they said duped Florida money managers into buying way-too-risky securities. …

Now the St. Petersburg Times has obtained e-mails and internal memos that document a story at odds with the one told by Crist, Sink and McCollum, the elected officials responsible for oversight of the state’s money managers.

The securities Wall Street “dumped” on Florida? The records show the state was anything but an innocent dupe; it was an eager partner.

Going back at least seven years, state money managers had been trying to find a way around rules that restricted them from buying certain risky securities. Time and again they asked, time and again lawyers told them no.

But so eager were Florida’s money managers for higher yields, they bought them anyway. In two months at the brink of the housing market meltdown in 2007, the state invested at least $9.5 billion in securities it was not authorized to buy, a review of confidential memos shows.

This proves the wisdom of the anti-establishment impulse among Florida Republicans this year.  Both Charlie Crist and Bill McCollum were the anointed candidates for the Senate and Governor, respectively.  Crist has already been exposed as using party funds for his family vacation at Disneyworld, and now Crist appears to have misled Floridians on the nature of the state’s activities in the market.  McCollum would have had a difficult time explaining himself in this instance as well after having encouraged a criminal investigation, although he at least didn’t appear to politicize it to the extent that Crist did, who publicly accused four Wall Street firms of intentionally defrauding the state.

The main culpability belongs to Sink, however.  She had the fiduciary duty to perform due diligence on the agencies handling these investments, as well as enforce the law in handling Florida’s treasury.  Instead, Sink and her team appear to have tried to find ways around the law, and in the end broke them to jump on a bandwagon as the wheels came off.  Later, when the collapse came, Sink looked for ways to blame others for her lack of oversight and discipline, as did Crist and McCollum, who were also trustees to the fund.

Sink has served as Florida’s CFO since January 2007.  The illegal purchases that lost hundreds of millions of dollars in bad investments happened entirely on her watch.  If Sink couldn’t handle her primary duty as CFO nor own up to her failings in that position, Florida should hardly trust her with broader responsibilities.  They should be chasing her out of the position she holds now.


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Looks like some people need to go to prison.

INC on September 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Sink-hole

Joe Mama on September 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Another whack at the “smarter betters”.

fesofee on September 20, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Is Sink sunk?

tim c on September 20, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Tea Time! One lump or 3?

cartooner on September 20, 2010 at 12:22 PM

“Chasing?”

These idiot politicians squander millions, billions and trillions of dollars belonging to the American people.

What happens to them?

Nothing.

In the case of our completely worthless jackass of a president, his approval ratings go down.

No one takes responsibility, no one is accountable, no one is competent.

There’s an argument for smaller government right there. Less things for these irresponsible morons to foul up.

NoDonkey on September 20, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Go Rubio Go

The Rock on September 20, 2010 at 12:24 PM

“They should be chasing her out of the position she holds now.”

I would think they should be demanding the FL legislature be investigating this as well as the FL attorney general. I would think the latter would should be doing so of Sink irrespective of her race for the governor’s seat — it seems to me to be a criminal offense.

Dusty on September 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Looks like some people need to go to prison.

[INC on September 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM]

Totally.

Dusty on September 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Witchcraft, plain and simple.

a capella on September 20, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I’m guessing Bill McCollum is quietly thanking Rick Scott for defeating him in the primary, now that this fiasco is exploding.

BradSchwartze on September 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

It’s one thing be a capitalist dupe (AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros, Harvard, CitiBank, BofA, etc., etc. But those who would take unconscionably stupid and highly leveraged risk with public funds are reserved their own circle of hell.

horatio on September 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Later, when the collapse came, Sink looked for ways to blame others for her lack of oversight and discipline, as did Crist and McCollum, who were also trustees to the fund.

You know in an alternate world, people actually get punished for breaking the law. And I am not buying the I didn’t know it was against the law” defense.

Johnnyreb on September 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

“They should be chasing her out of the position she holds now.”

Umm, wrong, Ed. She should be on trial. Until facilitators like her and the bankers involved are brought to justice, what hope is there for the rest of us? Until the banksters go down, their criminal behavior will continue.

riverrat10k on September 20, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Looks like some people need to go to prison.

INC on September 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM

To Sink Sink.

:)

Shy Guy on September 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Man, you can tell by looking at that picture that Sink has never been to Disney World.

What a sourpuss!

pilamaye on September 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Tea Time! One lump or 3?

cartooner on September 20, 2010 at 12:22 PM

How many lumps will be dissolved by the bottomless pot of tea? They’re disappearing fast.

horatio on September 20, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Tea Party supporters are whackos. They’re demanding such outlandish and unreasonable notions as fiscal and fiduciary accountability from governmental officials.

They must be stopped, reports The New York Times.

BuckeyeSam on September 20, 2010 at 12:34 PM

You know, the one reality show I would watch would be the “You’re Busted! Political Edition”!

j_galt on September 20, 2010 at 12:35 PM

The Republican candidate for Governor of Florida is Rick Scott.

Emperor Norton on September 20, 2010 at 12:37 PM

You know, the one reality show I would watch would be the “You’re Busted! Political Edition”!

j_galt on September 20, 2010 at 12:35 PM

That is a terrific idea!

INC on September 20, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Alex “Stink” is more like it……….can’t wait to see how she tries to spin this one in her ads.

Jasech59 on September 20, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Ooh, take the money and run! Floridians need to run both the Governor (Crist) and the Governor wannabe (Sink) out of town, or out of state, after they both bilked the taxpayers! Then again, the other Governor wannabe (McCollum) is already out–time to finish the job!

Jeb Bush to Florida: Miss me yet?

Steve Z on September 20, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Jail seems appropo.

ornery_independent on September 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Sink leads in most polls in FL, so news like this couldn’t come at a better time!

crushliberalism on September 20, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Go Rubio Go

The Rock on September 20, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Wrong race. She is running against Rick Scott.

Alex Sink has been/is in WAY OVER HER HEAD. She is an incompetent moron.

stenwin77 on September 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Jeb Bush to Florida: Miss me yet?

Steve Z on September 20, 2010 at 12:39 PM

For those that don’t know, Floridian or otherwise, Alex Sink is the wife of the fool who tried to unseat Jeb Bush in ’02, Bill McBride. Trial Lawyers, both.

Lanceman on September 20, 2010 at 12:56 PM

stenwin77 on September 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM

She’s awful. People were calling her the newest Martha Coakley. She got back up because of the nuclear GOP primary, but now it finally seems the wheels are going to fall off. Thank goodness!

TimTebowSavesAmerica on September 20, 2010 at 1:09 PM

MAD MEN PASSION INDEX FOR THE NOV. ELECTION! She would have a joint rating.

Mutnodjmet on September 20, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Alex Sink has been/is in WAY OVER HER HEAD. She is an incompetent moron.

stenwin77 on September 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM

She appears to be more of a criminal malfeasant than moron. She should be a state prisoner. RICO act, anyone?

Who is John Galt on September 20, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Red Collar Crime.

reaganaut on September 20, 2010 at 1:36 PM

so eager were Florida’s money managers for higher yields, they bought them anyway.

Get the cuffs

Of coarse, good old Charlie, et al, wanted to blame the nasty banks

Gov. Charlie Crist demanded a no-holds-barred investigation and named four Wall Street firms that he suspected took advantage of the state.

Attorney General Bill McCollum wondered if there had been fraud and promised help with an investigation.

But no bank was prosecuted, no lawsuit was filed and there was never a full accounting of a financial debacle that could cost Florida governments and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

And as we know,

”Florida can’t say it got snookered,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and securities law expert, when told what the documents said.

Gangster Government…Unreal. Break the law, scapegoat and investigate the innocent.

TheBigOldDog on September 20, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Must be nice, too.

So, if they made a bundle? ::crickets::

They risked and lost, “Not Fair! Those evil fatcats! Wall Street ….errrr…. Main Street ….. err the car in drive… and the keys…. uh, uh, and stuff .. and , uhhhhh, Booooosh!!!!1!!!”

reaganaut on September 20, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Do you mean “Sink sank Florida”?

Tzetzes on September 20, 2010 at 2:07 PM

You know, the one reality show I would watch would be the “You’re Busted! Political Edition”!

j_galt on September 20, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Bad pols Bad pols
Whatcha gonna do
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

TQM38a on September 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Having published research on fiscal malfeasance, the states do have the right to lose money. They also have the right to elect someone better.
Scalia says the expression of “best services is vague and over broad”

seven on September 20, 2010 at 2:16 PM

“Dewey, Cheatum and Howe. Hold, please!”
“Dewey, Cheatum and Howe. Hold, please!”
“Sink, Sank, Sunk. Cops are at the door!”

Jack Deth on September 20, 2010 at 2:27 PM

If Sink couldn’t handle her primary duty as CFO nor own up to her failings in that position, Florida should hardly trust her with broader responsibilities. They should be chasing her out of the position she holds now.

You also say, she broke laws. Indictments going out when???

capejasmine on September 20, 2010 at 2:42 PM

I hope this means an easy win for Rick Scott for governor. I like him.

parteagirl on September 20, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Absolutely astounded at the number of corrupt politicians…. If you are a politician, are you corrupt? If you are corrupt, are you a politician?

ultracon on September 20, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Memo to Rick Scott: If your ad team isn’t already shooting the new ads based on this, you don’t deserve to win. The damned thing writes itself. Just tell the truth, set the rotisserie on slow and watch Sink roast to a nice, even char.

Extrafishy on September 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM

The way Floridians treated Katherine Harris,they desrve a governor like Sink.
Ancient history I know,but I can carry grudge for a loooong time.

DDT on September 20, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Oops,deserve

DDT on September 20, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Let’s conjugate the word: sink, sank, sunk.

MSGTAS on September 21, 2010 at 10:52 AM