At the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the urging of President Donald Trump, the State of Florida’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has asked all its business vendors, over 100,000 of them, including SFGN, to certify they are not “owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China.”
DFS is charged with processing payments on behalf of the State of Florida to all of the vendors its agencies do business with. Presently, SFGN has a contract to advertise the State’s Department of Health.
Sent out by the state’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, and labeled a “Vendor Ownership Survey,” it requires a response within 30 days, in order to “avoid necessary follow-up by the Department.”
The letter states it is “addressing your continued partnership with the State of Florida, United States of America.”
Patronis first launched the campaign in April. He wrote directly to the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, so it could target them for restitution to compensate the state for costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When his warning fell on deaf ears, and China failed to respond, Patronis decided to target all of Florida's vendors. He declared it was necessary to determine “which of its vendors are controlled by United States interests.” SFGN’s publisher Norm Kent called the letter “unprecedented and unconscionable.”
“Since Communist China has chosen to not respond to our official transmission, we’re going to follow through in our commitment of identifying Chinese-owned businesses that do business with the state,” Patronis wrote last month. “This will provide us information should Florida need to withhold payments to these businesses as federal leaders sort out potential financial impacts against the Communist Party of China.”
A constitutional rights attorney, who has been a lawyer since 1975, an outraged Kent declared the correspondence was “no survey. It's a veiled financial threat to cut off funding to your business if you fail to comply with their instructions."
“The governor might as well have asked me if I now or have ever been a member of the communist party," Kent stated, adding that the letter was "a desperate attempt for the state to look tough against China while failing to conduct a coordinated campaign against the coronavirus."
"They continue to only make things worse," Kent said, indicating SFGN would refuse to comply with the survey.
"I was born in Brooklyn, not Beijing," Kent stated.