The Naples News reports that former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey was forced out of office by Gov. Rick Scott. Why is that an issue? The FDLE commissioner is a Florida Cabinet appointment and can’t be removed without a vote of the cabinet – which includes Scott, Attorney General, CFO and Agriculture Commissioner. admitted he forced the longtime law enforcement chief out of office.
Bailey was appointed to the post by former Gov. Jeb Bush and had served three governors. He had been with the state for 27 years.
According to the Naples News, Bailey was informed that there was going to be a change at the top of FDLE by Pete Antonacci, Gov. Rick Scott’s former top attorney, the morning of Dec. 16. He was told to be out that evening.
Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Bailey’s resignation was triggered by what Bailey and others at FDLE considered improper interference in agency operations by Scott’s office and his re-election campaign team. Read more.
Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog.com doesn’t mince words:
“If the Florida Cabinet is telling the truth, Rick Scott lied to them and broke the law. What will they do about it?
Under Florida law, the Governor cannot fire the head of FDLE without the support of the Cabinet.
As of late Tuesday evening, not a single member of the Florida Cabinet admits supporting Scott’s decision to oust Bailey. In fact, all three Cabinet members have made statements that they were told Bailey had not been fired, but voluntarily resigned.
Bondi specifically stated, “My office was told Commissioner Bailey was resigning and was never told anything other than that.”
twater, facing a barrage of questions from the Capitol Press Corps, made a similar statement: “He informed us that he was stepping down.”
Putnam made similar comments, both back in December and again yesterday. The Tampa Bay Times’ even wrote on December 16th that Putnam “was surprised by the news.”
So we have all three Cabinet members, on the record, saying they were told that Bailey voluntarily resigned from his position, a claim that is now contradicted by Bailey’s explicit statement today that he was given an ultimatum by Scott’s general counsel to “retire or resign.”
Bailey even went so far as to say, “If he said I resigned voluntarily, that is a lie.”
With pressure mounting on Scott late Tuesday, he finally came clean and admitted that Bailey was forced out. But this admission only raised new questions about the Governor’s actions and those of the Cabinet.
If the Cabinet members are telling the truth, then Scott’s administration broke the law by lying to them and circumventing their authority to hire and fire the FDLE commissioner.
The question is: what are the three other Cabinet members going to do about it?”