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Following state commissioner's firing, DeSantis calls for national search to find replacement

'I think that there was clearly poor conduct'
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Posted at 5:54 PM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 06:55:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- He’s gone. On Thursday, the Florida Cabinet fired one of their own following allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment.

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After being hired only five months prior, Financial Regulation Commissioner Ronald Rubin was terminated as Florida’s top bank regulator by a majority vote. The governor, state CFO, and attorney general were in favor of the dismissal.

“I think that there was clearly poor conduct," Gov. Ron DeSantis said following the cabinet meeting. "I think it was below the standards that we should expect.”

Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried abstained from voting. In a statement, she said it was out of concern the vote wasn’t properly scheduled to meet Florida law.

"In the interest of transparency and following the proper process, I today withheld my vote on this issue because it had not been properly placed on an agenda or publicly noticed," Fried said. "Like my fellow Cabinet members, I did not support Mr. Rubin’s continued employment by the State of Florida.”

The cabinet’s decision came after a state investigation found evidence supporting the allegations against Rubin. It suggested he had created an “intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment.”

Rubin’s attorney, Michael Tein, has dismissed the claims.

“Look, Mr. Rubin apologized— OK?" Tein said. "Nothing that he did rose to the level of sexual harassment or discrimination.”

Tein has alleged the effort to remove his client was for political reasons, that Rubin was ousted for not hiring someone the state CFO had recommended.

The lawyer made a plea to the cabinet to censure Rubin instead of dismissing him, calling it an "olive branch." Tein said the vote took that offer off the table. He now intends to continue fighting the termination with a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County.

“It will be heard in a fair court in Florida where justice will prevail," Tein said. "We will get to the bottom of this.”

Meanwhile, CFO Jimmy Patronis has denied pressuring Rubin.
 He did, however, take full responsibility for pushing the cabinet to hire him.

“He passed a criminal background check," Patronis said. "Passed our normal process. You know what— only a damned fool won’t change. We will change the standards that we vet our employees moving forward.”

The governor said a national search will now be conducted to find Rubin’s replacement.

"I think going forward we want to do a search that does have thorough vetting," DeSantis said. "We want to get somebody that’s talented but also is going to conduct themselves and lead appropriately.”