How has relative unknown Democratic candidate William Rankin, who is running for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer seat against Republican incumbent Jeff Atwater, charmed his way past local Democratic Clubs, without anyone thoroughly checking into his background? Writer Brooke Knight decides to do some of her own vetting of this mysterious candidate from Cincinnati, OH.
By: Brooke Knight
At first glance, William is charming, dynamic, tall, fit and handsome. He wears tight jeans, nice shoes and a sport coat. A winning smile, firm handshake and past service in the US Army bonds him to the men. The middle-aged women unabashedly swoon over him, clapping excitedly whenever he says the words “I’m a Democrat.” He’s not a strong public speaker by any means, he’s repetitive and vague, but that hasn’t disheartened some of his groupies. He’s all they’ve got right now.
But who is William David Rankin?
After multiple attempts at getting answers to this inquiry by various professionals in the South Florida community, local voters are left with more questions than answers. Various searches leave us stumped and (almost) embarrassed for his hopeful party, who, like children on their way to meet Santa Claus are brimming with visions of sugarplums – or in this case, apt representation – dancing in their heads.
Rankin’s catch-phrases echo and hum throughout the few in the Democratic Party that have met him like a meditation mantra.
Mottos like: “We are digging up the bodies in Tallahassee,” because he stated that he has people on the inside of Atwater’s office or “It will take a year to uncover all the fraud,” speaking of Atwater’s improper management.
I’m sure Atwater is loving the allegations of fraud, abuse and implied references that his camp has been infiltrated. This campaign gets better by the second.
But ask Rankin about recent PIP legislation, and his answer is merely, “This is all good stuff.” Forced placed insurance? He’s stumped, and will ask you to speak slowly as he can’t seem to comprehend the terminology.
He doesn’t own a home in Florida, but has had dozens of rented residences, mostly short-term. There is absolutely no record of homeownership for Rankin that we have yet uncovered in the State of Florida.
This candidate is Atwater’s dream come true.
Rankin can’t seem to answer a single question about the CFO’s job, but he does ask for both time and monetary donations as he begs for local attorney’s to do his work for him, and teach him about the job for which he’s running. Evidently, he didn’t research the duties of this position. Being a former cop in the Army isn’t going to qualify him for this one.
The reality is that Rankin, and unfortunately for the Democratic Party, has no idea what he’s doing.
In fact, so far as it’s known, Rankin has zero insurance experience, other than what he buys for his car, boat, or renters insurance, and has never worked inside a banking or financial institution in any capacity. As a wounded veteran, he’s not in the market for health insurance because he’s covered by the VA. He holds neither an MBA nor a JD. He’s not a CPA. He doesn’t even have a degree in accounting or finance. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration that had a focus on economics from St. Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. That means he took a few extra classes on economics than the general degree would otherwise require.
Rankin enlisted in the US Army immediately out of high school and his Military Occupational Specialty was initially, we can only assume, was Military Police. After several years of enlistment he finally passed the tedious background process for clearance and qualified for selection as a member of the Criminal Investigation Command, or CID Special Agency that investigates contract and monetary fraud within the agency and with their vendors until his medical discharge. His total length of service was also eleven years. But the total time in service was not 11 years worth of fraud investigations. That would be impossible considering the CID qualification instructions and guidelines require both college credits and time in service.
His biography touts: “As a Special Agent for the Army, Rankin specialized in economic fraud criminal investigations. In that role he also performed Crime Prevention Analysis on government agencies to reduce and deter fraud, waste, abuse and theft. He also implemented innovative policies and procedures in those agencies, and again, he plans to do the same for Florida as CFO.” That is one high-powered sergeant! I guess the brass was too busy to implement policy that day.
Though there has been no debate over his service to his country, or his disability status for that matter, his platform has been so heavily set on his experience in the CID, that it seemed natural to request a copy of his DD-214, which is a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. He is, after all, applying for a very powerful job. On one occasion, he told several constituents that it was classified, and on another, he didn’t have a copy on hand. Strange excuses for a Veteran running on his Veteran experience.
But wait. It gets more weird.
Rankin, a former Republican who said recently that he felt that the Republican Party “abandoned” him stated that he was the Director of Asset Management for the State of Ohio’s Treasury Department. The Treasurer at his time of service (ca. 1998) was J. Kenneth Blackwell (R). After an inquiry with the Treasury office, we were able to confirm that he did in fact work there, but it was for mere months, was not a high level position as he implies, and he resigned for reasons that are unclear.
In reference to his time as the Director of Asset Management for the Ohio State Department of Treasury, and during a recent meeting with the Democratic Committee leadership in Palm Beach County, Rankin had clearly stated that he was single-handedly responsible for “firing” Deutsche Bank for the mismanagement of Ohio’s pension funds and for the bank’s failure to abide by the State’s compliance regulations. He said that the bank executives were, as you can imagine, very upset to lose an account of over $120 billion. This event has not been verified, but searching through the archives, there is very little news to be found on such an instance. It must’ve been CID Secret-Squirrel action.
There is a lot of debate over Rankin’s next role that he claims on his invisible resume, which we’ve requested, and that is of his role as the “former Director of the Florida State Census Committee” or was it that he was the “Outreach Director for the U.S. Congressional 2000 Census Oversight Board” or was he simply a “volunteer” as it was disclosed today? Again, it’s unclear who he is and what he’s really done. But regardless, everything seems short term outside of his Army enlistment, and these facts, or refusals by Rankin to verify his experience, should make any voter hesitate.
Rankin has been involved in a few other, um, business opportunities. One of which, he is the co-founder and publisher of Millionaire Lifestyle Magazine, an online publication for uber-wealthy jet-setters.
In his bio page, however, he never mentions his military service. In fact, he implies that he is highly wealthy and an international man of mystery who needs better service than the run-of-the-mill concierge services provide. His co-founder, Sean Sandell of London, also sells Mona Vie, the juice concentrate that is sold in multi-level marketing, in case you’re interested. Maybe Rankin can give you a referral discount. ML Magazine
Rankin also was listed as a Director of Pure Barre of Boca, owned by Diane Boothe. It’s a place for women to workout at a ballet barre. However that stint only lasted approximately 14 for Rankin, and through an amendment, he was removed from the corporate documents.
He is currently the owner of a security services company based out of a residential location in Deerfield Beach. Originally there were three other officers of the company, including Jose Morales of Boca, Barry Silverman of Delray, and Lisa Armoyan, of Boca Raton, now ex-wife of a Syrian-Canadian millionaire, who recently lost out of a $17M settlement in a nasty, publicized divorce. All three partners in Rankin’s security company were amended off the corporate documents in less than six months of incorporation, and Rankin is now the sole officer. There is no information on his licensing to be operating a security firm.
Rankin also at some point worked at Banana Republic in sales. No shame in that job, but not exactly a qualifier for Florida State CFO.
As far as state records show, there has been no filing or incorporation of a campaign entity for Rankin, though he has donated $10k to his own campaign. He was also caught attempting to reimburse a committee member for his collateral materials out of his personal checking, and not his campaign account, Oops!. Evidently, he doesn’t have a campaign account, or entity but has accepted donations from other county committees.
The point of this article isn’t to bash a man running for office. There’s plenty of current office-holders in both parties more than worthy of my time. The sad reality is that this individual wasn’t vetted at all before he was introduced around the state as the Great White Hope.
The fact that any committee leadership of any party would blindly support the campaign of an un-verified candidate is dereliction of their duties as leaders, and an injustice to the constituents that rely on them. Do I blame Rankin for wanting his moment of glory? Nah. Egocentric men and women like political positions. It’s commonplace for their personality types. I do hold the local leadership responsible for not doing their due diligence. Like Rankin said in the meeting I attended, “Say anything you want about me” when requesting the leadership to print flyers for his campaign. That’s the type of irresponsible leadership that bankrupts companies and worse yet, states, and not indicative of the right candidate for State of Florida CFO.
In a call with the Director of Communications of the Florida Democratic Party, Joshua Karp, I was told that anyone can run for office under the Democratic ticket and there is no single person responsible for vetting the candidate representing their party. He said he would email or call me back with more information, but instead emailed Rankin asking why I’m making inquiries. In fact, he said I should consider running.
Also, if you need a candidate vetted, give me a call. You can retain me. I am, after all, a veteran headhunter.
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