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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Florida is Fighting Back Against Feds for Flagging Americans on Political Beliefs

1/25/2024
For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 25, 2024
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842

CFO Jimmy Patronis: Florida is Fighting Back Against Feds for Flagging Americans on Political Beliefs  

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a statement following reports that federal agencies are asking financial institutions to search and flag Americans transactions if they used terms like “MAGA” or “Trump” or shopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s or Bass Pro. The CFO is working with Legislators to propose new legislation to fight back against this federal overreach. To view the CFO’s thread on X, click HERE.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “So it turns out the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), asked banks to search and filter customer transactions by using search terms like ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ as part of an investigation into January 6. FinCEN distributed materials to financial institutions, including banks and payment providers like Zelle, that outlined ‘typologies’ and suggestions of Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) that these institutions should search for. Despite these transactions having no apparent criminal nexus, FinCEN seems to have characterized these Americans as potential threats. Having this kind of financial surveillance carried out by coordinating with federal law enforcement is incredibly alarming and violating consumers data privacy.

“Basically, the Feds are asking Banks and Zelle to search private citizens transactions for terms like ‘MAGA’ or ‘TRUMP’ and they’re flagging you if you shopped at Dick’s, Cabela’s, or Bass Pro. This is outrageous – that fact that the Feds are flagging Americans (who are exercising their constitutional rights), so they’re de-banked is grotesque and anti-American. Apparently, if you’re MAGA or like guns (which last time I checked was legal) they’re telling the big financial firms you’re at risk. Bank of America voluntarily turned over records to the FBI with a list of individuals who made transactions in DC between Jan 5th – Jan 7th. Zelle also provided the FBI with a list of transaction information on consumers. This is a gross overreach of privacy, and it seems like the Feds are colluding with financial institutions to target certain people based on their beliefs or political views. Allowing a bank to conspire with the federal government and search for transactions using merchant category codes is unacceptable, and Florida is fighting back. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to de-bank you for your political beliefs, and they must understand that if they de-bank customers over political persuasion, they are threatening their own bottom lines.

“This session, I will be proposing new consumer protection legislation that will end this and prohibit financial institutions from sharing Floridians’ private financial and transaction information. If a financial institution violates this proposed legislation, the institution can face prosecution or fines. I want freedom for all Floridians, and we cannot stand by as the leadership in Washington fails to protect citizens from political targeting.”

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About CFO Jimmy Patronis  
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).

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