The Associated Press’ pre-session meeting is generally meant to focus on legislative priorities…2015’s annual get together had a different tone. As Matt Galka tells us, a war of words broke out between a top democrat and the Governor.
Senate Democratic leader Arthenia Joyner didn’t mince words about how she felt in the wake of the Governor’s handling of the firing of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief Gerald Bailey, going so far as to say Governor Rick Scott violated Florida’s constitution.
“Only unconstrained Hubris explains a Governor who believes he can fire people without proper authority,” said Sen. Joyner (D-Tampa).
Cabinet member and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also blasted the firing by saying the cabinet was misled.
“Gerry Bailey is a fine man and he served our state very well, and the way that he was treated at the end of his distinguished career was shabby,” he said.
The Governor adamantly defended his office and his staff against the harsh criticism.
“The attacks against me are absolutely untrue and they’re ridiculous,” said Gov. Rick Scott (R). He referenced a FAQ his office put online for answers to questions surrounding Bailey’s firing.
Scott’s inner circle has come under fire. His chief of staff Melissa Sellers is a veteran of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s campaign…two other high ranking Scott staffers are also from the same camp. A Louisiana insurance official is now being recruited as a replacement to lead Florida’s office of Inusrance regulation. The staffers have come to be known as the “Louisiana Mafia.”
“Evidently the Governor has an affinity for Louisianans, and all these good high paying jobs he keeps talking about, they’re going to people out of state,” said Sen. Joyner.
We asked the Governor and staff about it afterwards, but they weren’t answering anymore media questions.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said at the same meeting later in the day that she believed staff, and not the Governor, forced Bailey to resign.
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