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Still Under Fire, Gov. Scott’s Office Attempts To Deflect Criticism Over FDLE Chief’s Firing

| February 2, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott has not been able to quiet the fury over the way FDLE Chief Gerald Bailey lost his job. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Rick Scott has not been able to quiet the fury over the way FDLE Chief Gerald Bailey lost his job. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Rick Scott’s office continued pushing back Monday against claims his staff forced longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey to resign immediately in December.

The latest salvo from the governor’s office followed critical remarks last week from Attorney General Pam Bondi about the way Bailey quickly left the commissioner’s job. Bondi said she thought Scott’s staff acted without the governor’s knowledge in its handling of the situation.

In an email Monday to reporters, Scott’s office said the governor didn’t instruct anyone on staff to remove Bailey immediately. “Gerald Bailey was asked to work out his transition with his successor,” the email said.

The email, which was in the form of frequently asked questions, also gave a simple “no” to the following question: “Does Gov. Scott agree that his staff decided to force Gerald Bailey to resign immediately without the governor’s direct knowledge?”

While saying she hadn’t discussed the matter with the governor, Bondi said last week she thought Scott’s staff was responsible for Bailey’s quick exit from the commissioner’s job Dec. 16.

“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,” Bondi told reporters and editors gathered Wednesday at the Capitol for the annual Associated Press Legislative Planning Session.

Later, she added: “I do not think that Rick Scott would do that. I think it was done at the staff level. I firmly believe it was done at the staff level.”

The ouster of Bailey has become a major controversy for Scott, who contended last month that commissioner resigned from the post. Bailey, who has only publicly commented to the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau, has said, “I did not voluntarily do anything.”

Scott’s office has repeatedly emailed “FAQs” — frequently asked questions — to reporters to try to combat allegations that the administration mishandled the Bailey situation.

In part, the office has said Pete Antonacci, then Scott’s general counsel, advised Bailey on Dec. 16 that the governor wanted new leadership at FDLE and requested the resignation.

State laws require Scott and the Cabinet — Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — to agree on hiring and firing the leader of the FDLE.

Putnam and Atwater have said they were advised in December by Scott’s staff that the governor was interested in making a change at FDLE, but expected the change to come up at a January meeting.

Scott and the Cabinet will discuss some rudimentary new steps for hiring and reviewing agency heads during a meeting Thursday in Tampa.

Scott is also calling for the Cabinet to begin the process of possibly removing at least three agency heads: Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear and Department of Revenue executive director Marshall Stranburg.

Putnam and Atwater have maintained that they will not discuss additional leadership changes until the hiring process is revamped.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Still Under Fire, Gov. Scott’s Office Attempts To Deflect Criticism Over FDLE Chief’s Firing”

  1. What's Happening says:

    Deny, deny, deny. Then, stonewall. It’s what the guilty do when they’re trying to hide wrongdoing.

    • Al_Zeimers says:

      Mr. or Mrs. What’s Happening-I suspect Mr. How could you possibly cast dispertions on our wonderful public officials that do everything for the betterment of the citizenry. I feel totally confident that there was absolutely no culusion.

      • What's Happening says:

        The word “No” (see also “no comment” and “no we didn’t”) tends to suffice to the point where follow-up questions aren’t even needed, let alone asked. Hence my use of the word “stonewalling”, which is not the same thing as “collusion”. Though you can bet both are probably going on ;)

  2. Merrill Shapiro says:

    Thanks to all responsible for keeping this issue on the front burner!! Out of respect for my beloved mother, I have held my tongue until now (“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything!”). Rick Scott is taking crime off the streets of Florida and putting it in the Governor’s Mansion! Nixon said “I am not a crook!” Rick Scott….well, the record is there for all to read!!

  3. Yellowstone says:

    When will he take the 5th . . . .?

  4. I wonder says:

    The Governor apparently has also replaced his General Councel from what this story reports. Can’t wait to see depo’s as this moves forward. Why did the Governor want new FDLE leadership? Lets get some answers to these tough questions. The cabinet needs to get to the bottom of this, and quick. They are responsible for this position vacancy and its refill. Theres going to be lots of positions at FDLE available by years end for anyone looking for a job.

  5. confidential says:

    De ja vu, a la Columbia HCA!! Very simple he denies and gets away with the crime. You guys voted him back in office! Pathetic!

  6. Nalla C. says:

    Heh. We were all just told he was voted back in and, you know, “won”. I still have my doubts.

    At any rate, I’m with all of you on the “denials”. When does someone push back on this? When does this man answer to the people he allegedly serves? What a disgusting excuse for a public servant–a wanton felon.

  7. David S. says:

    Not a suprize at all,this crap will continue to get worse under scotts term. Why did the voters elect this person.

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