Misconduct caused the failure of Republican candidate Jay Fant’s family business, First Guaranty Bank & Trust in Jacksonville, during his nine years as CEO, according to a new mailer hitting mailboxes Monday in House District 15.
Fant faces attorney Paul Renner in the Aug. 26 GOP primary to replace term-limited Rep. Daniel Davis in the district representing much of Duval County.
The mailer says that from 2003-2012, First Guaranty made “risky loans to friends of the bank; allowed the bank’s director to overdraw his account 175 times, as well as issuing loans in violation of federal lending rules.” It alleges the bank also made a $1.6 million loan to a man charged with sexual battery.
In January 2012, the FDIC raided and shut down First Guaranty, leaving consumers with $82 million in government bailouts. Fant continues to live in a $2.8 million house on the St. Johns River.
Producing the mail piece is the Better Florida Fund, a PAC led by Jacksonville gastroenterologist Walter Harmon with more than $1.5 million in support from the Florida Medical Association.
In a statement released Monday, Better Florida’s goal in House District 15 is to inform voters of “Fant’s record of shady business practices” and “leadership failures.” To back up its claims, the group provides links to a Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative series by reporters Michael Braga and Anthony Cormier called “Breaking the Banks.” The interactive website lists the failures of many of Florida’s lending institutions over the past five years were because “leaders were greedy, arrogant, incompetent or sometimes corrupt.”