Florida Housing Finance Corp CEO Placed on Administrative Leave: Latest Updates and Investigation News

2023-08-08 18:31:00

Mike DiNapoli, chief executive of Florida Housing Finance Corp., has been placed on administrative leave. Florida Housing Finance Corp.

Governor Ron DeSantis’ director of Affordable Housing has been suspended pending the outcome of an inspector general’s investigation, leaving the state agency leaderless as it prepares to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mike DiNapoli, chief executive of Florida Housing Finance Corp, was placed on administrative leave last month, according to interviews the Herald/Times had with current and former state employees. The move comes less than six months after DeSantis tapped DiNapoli to lead the organization.

A spokesman for the entity did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Herald/Times requested DiNapoli’s suspension letter, but it has not been released.

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DiNapoli did not respond to text messages or calls seeking comment. The suspension was first reported by the USA Today network.

DeSantis selected DiNapoli, 54, in February as state lawmakers prepared to allocate a record $711 million to Florida Housing Finance Corp. to stem the state’s affordable housing crisis.

DiNapoli came after the abrupt resignation of the previous director, Harold “Trey” Price, appointed in 2017, when Rick Scott was governor.

Florida Housing Finance Corp. was created by state legislators more than 40 years ago to manage hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars for housing. The corporation makes low-interest loans to developers of affordable housing projects, issues debt, and helps new homebuyers with down payment assistance and low-interest home loans.

The entity is overseen by a board of directors appointed by the governor. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

DiNapoli previously worked at the Florida Department of Commerce, formerly known as the Department of Economic Opportunity, where he oversaw the state’s emergency bridge loan program. Before joining the state, DiNapoli was a vice president at Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and UBS Financial in New York, he announced the entity in February.

Since he took office, the agency has suffered a wave of departures. DiNapoli fired two high-level officials, including Hugh Brown, his longtime legal adviser β€” who, according to his LinkedIn page, was also director of ethics β€” and Sheila Freaney, the entity’s liaison to the board of directors.

Tallahassee attorney Marie Mattox, who represents Freaney, said she was fired after speaking out about “wrongdoing” by DiNapoli.

β€œShe was fired after speaking out against irregular spending practices and use of the state credit card and/or her age,” Mattox said.

Freaney filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Human Relations Commission, Mattox said.

One of DiNapoli’s hires was Amanda Prater as the organization’s director of Government Relations. Prater came from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank in Naples allied with DeSantis. Prior to that, Ella Prater was chief of staff at the Department of Children and Families, where she resigned following the deaths of four young children whose safety had been in the agency’s crosshairs.

This story was originally published on August 7, 2023 4:37 PM.

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