Jeffrey Atwater

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Jeffrey Atwater
Jeff Atwater.jpg
Florida Chief Financial Officer
In office
January 4, 2011 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 4
PredecessorAlex Sink (D)
Base salary$128,972
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$9,975,351
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
Florida State Senate
2002 - 2010
Florida House of Representatives
2000 - 2002
Vice Mayor of North Palm Beach, FL
1993 - 2000
Bachelor'sUniversity of Florida (1981)
Master'sUniversity of Florida (2002)
Date of birthApril 8, 1958
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Jeffrey Atwater (b. April 8, 1958) the current Republican Chief Financial Officer of Florida. Atwater was first elected on November 2, 2010, and took office on January 4, 2011.[1] Atwater began his second term on January 6, 2015, having won re-election on November 2014.[2]

The CFO's responsibilities generally overlap with those of a state treasurer or controller: he provides accounting, auditing and payroll services to the state, manages the state's finances and oversees receipt and disbursement of monies.[3]

Atwater began his political career in 1993 when he became vice mayor of North Palm Beach, Fla. Until that point, he had dedicated his career to community banking.[4]

Prior to assuming the role of Florida's CFO, Atwater was a state lawmaker. He served a single term in the state house, from 2000-2002, before ascending to the state senate, representing District 25. He remained there until 2010, serving as President of the Senate for his final two years in the seat.

Since Florida term limits disqualified him from seeking re-election in 2010, Atwater ran for state Chief Financial Officer, a post that would allow him to apply the knowledge of finance and banking he gained during his 25 years working in those industries.[5] He faced three opponents in November 2, 2010 general election, including Democrat Loranne Ausley, and won with 57.3 percent of the vote.

Atwater was considered a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, representing Florida. However, he announced that he would not be seeking the seat in April 2015.[6][7]


Atwater was Vice Mayor of the Village of North Palm Beach. He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002.

From 1994-1996, he was Chair/President/CEO of the Barnett Bank of Treasure Coast. He then worked as Chair/President/CEO of the Barnett Bank of Broward County from 1996 to 1998.[8]

Atwater holds a bachelor's degree in finance and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Florida.


  • BA in Finance - University of Florida (1981)
  • MBA - University of Florida (2002)

Political career

Florida Chief Financial Officer (2011-Present)

Atwater began his first term as Florida Chief Financial Officer on January 4, 2011. He won re-election on November 4, 2014.


Firing of Gerald Bailey

Gov. Rick Scott has attracted scrutiny, criticism within his own party and a lawsuit following his removal of state Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey on December 16, 2014. The governor's office first responded to questions about Bailey's removal on January 13, 2015, by indicating that the former department head made the decision to resign. On January 28, Scott stated that Bailey was asked to step down voluntarily and complied with the request. Scott's advisors told the press in early February that Bailey had been instructed to prepare his successor, Rick Swearingen, as his replacement for an undisclosed resignation date. Bailey, who had served in the office for eight years, refuted these differing stories by the Scott administration, noting that "when the governor's office gives you until 3 o'clock to resign, you're not working out anything with your successor." A Miami Herald profile of Scott advisor Melissa Sellers on February 7 indicated that Sellers pushed for Bailey's removal due to disagreements over Scott's discussions of law enforcement in his 2014 campaign.[9][10]

Criticism by cabinet members

The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports not only to the governor but three other constitutional officers: the Florida Attorney General, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and the Florida Chief Financial Officer. All three offices are held by Republicans but Scott's fellow party members criticized his actions. Attorney General Pam Bondi has stated that she believes Bailey's removal was handled by Scott's staff without his knowledge and indicated that the state's "sunshine laws" might have been violated. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam offered pointed criticism of Scott's actions by suggesting that Scott worked behind the scenes to add an ally in the department. Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater raised these concerns at a February 5 meeting of the governor's cabinet, which led to revelations that aides were holding substantive policy discussions covered by state open-records laws.[11][12]

In their own words

  • Pam Bondi: "We all knew there were going to be changes made in the upcoming months, but did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it."
  • Adam Putnam: "At best, you would say that there was a great miscommunication, but we were misled as to the timing and the process of how that would be handled. . . . Jerry Bailey's a fine man. He served our state very well, and the way he was treated at the end of his distinguished career was shabby."
  • Jeff Atwater: "I was not aware of any discontent. There was none between myself and the commissioner. I was not aware of any others. I was not aware of any other friction that existed. To that extent, I have to accept my share of responsibility."[11]
  • Rick Scott: "Jerry Bailey was given the opportunity to step down. He did. He was given that opportunity, and then he waited until after Rick Swearingen was confirmed by the entire Cabinet and made his attacks. The attacks against me are absolutely untrue, and they're ridiculous."[11]

On February 3, 2015, the Florida Society of News Editors, the Associated Press and attorney Matthew Weidner filed a lawsuit against Scott, Putnam, Atwater and Bondi alleging violations of the state's open-records laws. The lawsuit argues that:

The governor violated the Sunshine Law by using conduits to engage in polling, discussions, communications and other exchanges with other members of the Cabinet regarding his unilateral decision to force the resignation of the FDLE commissioner and appoint a replacement without any notice to the public, without any opportunity for the public to attend, and without any minutes being taken. [13]

Miami Herald, (2015) [14]

Weidner and the other parties in the lawsuit want a state judge to clarify whether open-records laws were broken and force the Scott administration to be more transparent with their meetings. The February 3rd lawsuit coincided with a letter by First Amendment Foundation founder Barbara Petersen to Bondi requesting a special prosecutor to investigate the situation. Petersen objected to a potential investigation by state attorney Willie Meggs, who she noted has previously been a dinner guest at the governor's mansion. Meggs rejected a request by Weidner to investigate the Scott administration prior to the lawsuit.[14]

Florida State Senate (2002-2010)

Atwater served in the Florida State Senate from 2002-2010. He was President of the Senate from 2009-2010.[15]

Florida House of Representatives (2000-2002)



See also: United States Senate election in Florida, 2016

Atwater was a potential candidate in the 2016 election for the U.S. Senate, to represent Florida. He announced that he would not run for the seat in April 2015.[6][7]


See also: Florida down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Atwater ran for re-election as Florida Chief Financial Officer in the 2014 elections.[2] He was uncontested for the Republican nomination in the August 26 primary election and faced Democrat William Rankin in the general election on November 4, 2014.[16]


Atwater won election to the office of Chief Financial Officer in 2010. The filing deadline was June 18, 2010, and the primary election date was August 24, 2010.[17]

Florida Chief Financial Officer, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJeff Atwater 57.3% 2,967,052
     Democratic Loranne Ausley 38.9% 2,015,579
     No Party Affiliation Tom Stearns 2.1% 109,192
     No Party Affiliation Ken Mazzie 1.6% 83,959
Total Votes 5,175,782
Election Results via Florida Department of State


On November 4, 2008, Jeffrey Atwater won re-election to the 25th District Seat in the Florida State Senate, defeating Linda Bird (D) and Anthony Joseph Mauro (Green). Atwater raised $2,827,505 for his campaign, while Bird raised $129,198 and Mauro raised 2,540.[18]

Florida State Senate, District 25, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJeffrey Atwater Incumbent 62.3% 127,769
     Democratic Linda Bird 35.2% 72,251
     Green Anthony Joseph Mauro 2.5% 5,032
Total Votes 205,052

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Atwater is available dating back to 2000. Based on available campaign finance records, Atwater raised a total of $9,975,351 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 8, 2013.[19]

Jeffrey Atwater's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Florida Chief Financial Officer Not up for election $313,851
2010 Florida Chief Financial Officer Won $5,079,097
2008 Florida State Senate District 25 Won $2,826,505
2006 Florida State Senate District 25 Not up for election $14,460
2004 Florida State Senate District 25 Won $506,802
2002 Florida State Senate District 25 Won $893,513
2000 Florida State House District 83 Won $341,123
Grand Total Raised $9,975,351

2008 and 2010

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Jeff Atwater's donors each year.[20] Click [show] for more information.

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Atwater and his wife, Carol Funkhouser, have four children.[8]

See also

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  1. WCTV, "Atwater Sworn in as CFO," January 5, 2011 (dead link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sunshine State News, Jeff Atwater Can Use 2014 as a Springboard for Higher Office, July 30, 2013
  3. Florida Dept. of Financial Services, "About the Agency," accessed August 26, 2011
  4. Florida Dept. of Financial Services, "Meet the CFO," accessed August 26, 2011
  5. Florida CFO 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Politico, "Florida surprise: Jeff Atwater won't run for Marco Rubio seat," April 11, 2015
  7. 7.0 7.1 Daily KOS, "Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A Rubio-less Florida Senate race starts out as a tossup," March 26, 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 Project Vote Smart, "Jeffrey 'Jeff' H. Atwater's Biography," accessed August 20, 2013
  9. Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott's new version of FDLE ouster called 'absolutely untrue' by Gerald Bailey," February 2, 2015
  10. Miami Herald, "Meet Melissa Sellers, the power behind Gov. Rick Scott," February 7, 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Tampa Bay Times, "Cabinet members step up attacks on Gov. Rick Scott over FDLE firing," January 28, 2015
  12. Miami Herald, "Cabinet members kept in dark on public discussions by their own aides," February 16, 2015
  13. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Miami Herald, "Lawsuits alleges Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Cabinet violated Sunshine Law," February 4, 2015
  15. Jeff Atwater, "About Jeff," accessed August 22, 2012
  16. Florida Division of Elections, "Candidate Listing for 2014 General Election," accessed May 13, 2014
  17. Jeff Atwater for Chief Financial Officer 2010
  18. 2008 District 25 Election Results
  19. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Jeff Atwater," accessed July 8, 2013
  20. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015

Political offices
Preceded by
Alex Sink (D)
Florida Chief Financial Officer
2011 – Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Florida Senate, District 25
Succeeded by
Ellyn Bogdanoff