Kevin Thibault, a former longtime employee of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), is returning to the agency to lead it under Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis on Friday picked Thibault, who had worked at the agency for two stints combining to 16 years, to serve as FDOT Secretary.
During his tenure at the Department of Transportation, Thibault served as the assistant secretary for engineering and operations and as interim executive director of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.
But POLITICO Florida previously reported that Thibault had a role in an illegal billboard permitting process during his time at the agency. A request for comment is pending with DeSantis’ office on whether DeSantis reviewed Thibault’s role in the permitting process.
Thibault’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
If the nomination follows traditional channels, Senate President Bill Galvano could refer it to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, chaired by St. Augustine Republican Travis Hutson, and the Infrastructure and Security Committee, chaired by Thonotosassa Republican Tom Lee.
The latter panel was formerly the Transportation Committee. Requests for comment were left for both lawmakers on Friday.
DeSantis, in a prepared statement, called Thibault a “proven leader” in both the public and private sectors.
“One of the most pressing issues facing our state is the need to relieve congestion and continue modernizing our transportation system,” DeSantis said.
“As he returns to FDOT, I know Secretary Thibault will work hard to achieve the mission of providing a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity and preserves the quality of Florida’s beautiful environment.”
Thibault called his next job an “absolute honor” and said he will meet with DeSantis to discuss the agency’s mission.
Thibault was among three potential picks the Florida Transportation Commission forwarded to DeSantis last week. The FTC received 12 applications for FDOT Secretary after the last head, Mike Dew, resigned.
Thibault most recently served as Southeast Regional Senior Vice President of TranSystems Corporation. In that role, he had managed “$40 million in revenue and close to 200 employees,” according to a news release from DeSantis’ office.
Other finalists for the job were Richard Biter, a former Department of Transportation assistant secretary for intermodal systems development who in 2016 was in the running to lead Enterprise Florida, and Phillip Gainer, who’s served as a Department of Transportation district secretary for the past three years.
The commission had interviewed five people for the job last week. Dew stepped down from the $151,000-a-year secretary position in November and joined DeSantis’ transition team. Dew was appointed to the post by former former Gov. Rick Scott last June.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.