Tom Grady, Pensacola, Florida’s former Financial Regulation Commissioner, has captured the public’s attention yet again. But this time, it’s not for his work fighting mortgage fraud: it’s for extravagant use of public funds that some think borders on public corruption. Records of Grady’s spending have leaked into the media, raising outcry among some who are all too aware of the Office of Financial Regulations’ financial woes. It is not yet clear whether law enforcement authorities plan to get involved.
Grady was appointed the Financial Regulations Commissioner for the Office of Financial Regulation late last year (he has since stepped don from the position). The Office of Financial Regulation is especially important in Florida because of Florida’s notorious status as one of the nation’s hubs for mortgage fraud. The media is attacking Grady for using his term as Commissioner to attempt to shift mortgage broker and loan originator management out of the Office of Financial Regulation, replace a veteran division director with a real estate agent, and close four of the OFR’s eight regional offices. Much of this was reportedly done to help reduce the OFR’s expenditures.
But what really has the public in a bother is not Grady’s drastic actions in the OFR. Instead, it is records of his travel and other expenses that he allegedly charged to the office. According to news reports, Grady charged – or attempted to charge – the State for expensive hotel stays, luxury car rentals, and pricey office furniture.
The furniture incident, one of several to find their way into the news, allegedly comprised of Grady and his wife purchasing $11,094 in furniture for Grady’s office. The purchases reportedly included at $2,660 bookcase, a $925 mirror, and a $563 floor lamp. Grady submitted a reimbursement request to the state for the furniture, but the request was denied because the cost of the furniture exceeded the amount allotted for public office holders. He then told state accountants that he would simply pay for the furniture himself.
On another occasion, Grady and three other employees of the Office went to a two-day banking conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Grady’s expenses during the trip, which is submitted to the state for reimbursement, included a flight to Atlanta (the other employees drove), a $389 stay at the Ritz-Carlton (he purportedly said that the hotel he was supposed to stay at did not have heat; his colleagues stayed), and $120 for a car service (the other employees walked). Grady then left for Salt Lake City on vacation, skipping the second half of the conference.
For the 1-day trip, Grady received reimbursements of $814. This included $189 for the Ritz stay, $40 for a taxi ride from the airport (he did not have a receipt, sources indicate), the full $120 for the car service, and $80 per day for meals, including on November 8 when he was on vacation. “The trip for me was relationship building with state and federal regulators. I did that. I saw no need to continue to spend taxpayer money under these circumstances,” Grady was later quoted as saying.