Mike DiNapoli is back in the office after Gov. Ron DeSantis reinstated the suspended affordable housing director.
DiNapoli faces allegations of creating a hostile work environment, and had been placed on administrative leave since July 21, the Miami Herald reported. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation executive director held the job for a mere six months before the inspector general opened an investigation into his leadership of the state’s financier of affordable housing projects.
Since the start of his leave, DiNapoli has been barred from the FHFC’s Tallahassee headquarters and from accessing emails, according to the Herald. The status of the inspector general’s investigation into his conduct is unknown.
Earlier this month, the Herald also reported on DiNapoli’s troubled financial past. Before he held the purse strings for Florida’s billion-dollar affordable housing budget, DiNapoli fell from grace in the finance industry and into bankruptcy. He was fired from his senior vice president role at UBS in New York City after a client accused him of stealing her money. He went into foreclosure on his 10-acre Ocala equestrian estate and filed for bankruptcy in 2017, according to the publication. He pivoted to state government work that year, his LinkedIn shows.
The governor’s office said DiNapoli should never have been suspended, according to a statement it provided to Politico. “The inquiry into FHFC to date has found nothing to justify the placement of Mr. DiNapoli on administrative leave,” a DeSantis spokesperson told Politico.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s CFO, Angie Sellers, emailed staff on Friday afternoon informing them the “governor’s office directed” DiNapoli’s reinstatement and that he would be returning to the office, according to the Herald.
The FHFC’s history dates back to the 1980s, when the Florida legislature established the organization as a vector for distributing affordable housing loans for developers and other financial aid for the housing industry. The corporation manages billions of dollars in affordable housing funding. This spring alone, lawmakers bookmarked $711 million in funding to build more affordable housing in response to Florida’s acute housing crisis.
DiNapoli took the helm in February, and promptly fired longtime general counsel and chief ethics officer Sheila Freaney, the Herald reported. She has filed discrimination complaints, alleging DiNapoli fired her after she reported wrongdoing and irregular spending practices, her lawyer told the publication.
— Kate Hinsche