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Democrat, Butterworth, Named to Head DCF

December 19th, 2006 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor-elect Charlie Crist is tapping the state’s former top cop to take charge of what many believe is Florida’s most troubled agency. Former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth will be the new Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. As Victoria Langley tells us, Butterworth himself admits he’s got a difficult task ahead.
Bob Butterworth famously took on Big Tobacco and won a landmark settlement as Florida’s attorney general. But now the popular democrat may face an even bigger challenge. He’s been tapped by Governor-elect Charlie Crist to lead Florida’s troubled Department of Children and Families. Butterworth admits he had reservations about accepting the position, but he’s determined to turn the agency around. “ It’s a lot of responsibility. It’s a tremendous management challenge. It’s something which means so much to so many people” says Butterworth.
Butterworth becomes the fourth secretary in five years to head an agency that’s been under fire for the deaths and disappearances of children in state custody. DCF most recently made headlines for repeatedly breaking a law that requires the state to find treatment facilities for jail inmates found mentally incompetent. Crist believes Butterworth is up for it. “He’s a fixer. He’s the kind of guy who comes in and can get things done and is a great Floridian” says the Governor-Elect.
The appointment of a well-known democrat to head such a critical state agency also sends an important political message. Charlie Crist is clearly setting a different tone from his predecessor, Jeb Bush.
But real reform may come down to money. Crist will have to push the legislature to better fund DCF if Butterworth is to be any more successful than those who’ve come before him.
Bob Butterworth’s appointment as DCF Secretary must still be approved by the state Senate. Butterworth served as Florida’s attorney general for 16 years until a failed bid for state Senate himself in 2002. Before that he served as a judge and as Broward County sheriff. Butterworth says his first role at DCF may be as defendant in the lawsuit ordering the agency to find appropriate treatment for mentally-ill jail inmates. But he is pledging to find a way to uphold the law.

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