Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 3 of 107 - Florida Politics

Flags ordered at half-staff for George Sheldon

Gov. Rick Scott ordered flags at half-staff on Saturday for George Sheldon, a longtime children’s advocate and former state official who died last month. 

Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, City Hall in Miami, City Hall in Plant City, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset on Sept. 8.


Sheldon, 71, most recently had been head of the Our Kids nonprofit that provides child services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Before that, he was director of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services, and was acting assistant secretary in 2011-13 for the federal Administration for Children and Families under President Barack Obama.

Gov. Charlie Crist selected him to be Secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families in 2008-11.

Over a long career, Sheldon also served in the state House, was an aide to then-state Sen. Reubin Askew, and was a deputy to Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

He represented House District 69, which covered parts of Pinellas County from 1974 to 1982.

His work was not without controversy. In Illinois, he faced ethics investigations and scrutiny over contracts he had granted to past campaign donors and consultants before resigning in mid-2017.

“This is all part of being in the public eye,” Sheldon told Florida Politics last year.

Keith Ward, chairman of the Our Kids board of trustees, sent out a memo Aug. 6 that said Sheldon had sustained a neck injury while exercising and had surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. The memo indicated the surgery had been successful.


Background provided by The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

RIP ‘Every day hero’: Flags at half-staff for Taylor J. Galvin

Gov. Rick Scott ordered flags at half-staff for Taylor J. Galvin, a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3). 

Galvin died after an Aug. 20 helicopter crash in Iraq. His wife’s family live in Cedar Key.

Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson, Town Hall in Cedar Key, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Galvin, of Spokane, Washington, was assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Services for Galvin are being held Friday morning and he will be laid to rest at Cedar Key Cemetery.

A tribute to him written by his wife and in-laws is in the Cedar Key News.

“Taylor was an Every Day Hero,” it says. He “shook hands with the homeless and sat by their side offering friendship and much needed supplies (such as sleeping bags). When Taylor was a teenager, he volunteered … raising money to fulfill the last wishes of terminally ill children.

“… Taylor was not a Special Operations Aviator just because he loved what he did. Taylor did it because he truly believed it was the right thing to do and because it would have significant impact on bettering our world regardless of what sacrifices needed to be made.

“In Taylor’s final letter he wrote, ‘If I died at work, I want you to know that I died doing what I believe in and what I believe is right.’ “

Oral arguments ordered in state office complex ‘bat poop’ case

An appellate court has granted a request for oral argument in a dispute between the owners of a Tallahassee office complex and several state agencies who bolted on the master lease.

Dockets reviewed Thursday show an argument date of Oct. 9 before the 1st District Court of Appeal in a lawsuit over Northwood Centre, a former shopping mall-turned-office complex that had been home to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and others.

Northwood Associates, owners of the property, appealed after Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled in favor of the agencies.

Critics called the complex a “biological hot zone” after inspectors discovered 10 pounds of bat feces in the ceiling above the desk of then-DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. Mold and more animal droppings were also found.

The complex’s ownership denied the allegations, saying it “performed air quality testing” and contracted with “two expert consulting firms to address all issues.”

But Gov. Rick Scott approved stopping rent payments in the 2016-17 state budget, and the state relocated some 1,500 workers. Northwood Associates filed suit.

The court later allowed the House of Representatives into the case to defend the budget proviso language nixing the lease payments.

FOX News on Ron DeSantis’ ‘monkey’ comment: ‘We do not condone this language’

FOX News announced that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum would appear on the network later Wednesday as it distanced itself from a controversial statement made by Republican candidate Ron DeSantis on an earlier program.

After that appearance, host Sandra Smith did a follow-up segment on “America’s Newsroom.”

“A little while ago we had Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida, on for an interview to discuss the Florida election,” she said.

“During the interview, he made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum.”

DeSantis, a Congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, had said, “To make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction, let’s build off the success we’ve had (with) Gov. (RickScott.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases, and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work; that’s not going to be good for Florida.” (A previous story is here.)

DeSantis is white; Gillum is black. Comparing African Americans to apes or monkeys usually is considered disparaging.

Sandra Smith went on, saying a DeSantis campaign spokesman “has since clarified his comment.”

In a statement, Stephen Lawson said DeSantis “was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses.

“To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left Democrat trying to stop our success.”

Sandra Smith then added: “We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”

She also announced that Gillum is scheduled to be interviewed by host Shepard Smith at 3 p.m.

Personnel note: Rebecca Kapusta made interim DCF Secretary

Rebecca Kapusta will become interim Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) after the resignation of Secretary Mike Carroll, who’s leaving the post Sept. 6.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the move Tuesday afternoon. He did not say when he expected to name a full-time replacement, if any; the term-limited governor departs office in January.

“Rebecca has served the Department for more than 10 years, and I’m sure she’ll continue to work to better our communities and protect Florida’s most vulnerable citizens,” Scott said in a statement.


Kapusta was most recently Assistant Secretary for Operations after being the department’s General Counsel.

Before that, the decade-plus department veteran was Chief Counsel for DCF’s SunCoast Region in Children’s Legal Services, as well as Assistant Regional Counsel and Assistant General Counsel.

Kapusta, who once was a general magistrate in the 12th Judicial Circuit, received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Central Florida and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

She follows Carroll, whose “tenure as secretary is the longest in DCF’s 21-year history,” Scott has said. Carroll was appointed in December 2014.

He inherited a system documented earlier that year, by the Miami Herald’s “Innocents Lost” investigation, as “clearly broken, leaving children unprotected and at risk.”

And a 133-page internal review commissioned by Carroll in 2016 depicted a dysfunctional agency, with workers feeling “unsupported,” “overwhelmed,” and “defeated.”

But a previous press release from Scott’s office said Carroll oversaw “expanded substance abuse treatment services statewide, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders; achieved record numbers of adoptions; (and) championed anti-human trafficking efforts,” among other achievements.

Rick Scott names lawyers to Florida Elections Commission

Gov. Rick Scott appointed two Tallahassee attorneys to the Florida Elections Commission, his office announced Friday night.

Coincidentally, both specialize in representing automotive dealers.

Martin Hayes, 62, is a partner at the Akerman firm. Hayes fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Aug. 24 and ending Dec. 31, 2020.


Hayes, a litigator, mainly works with motor vehicle dealerships “in all aspects of the motor vehicle dealer-manufacturer relationship,” according to his firm bio.

He “represents auto dealers in litigation, mediations, and informal settlement conferences on issues as diverse as acquiring additional dealerships, warranty audit issues, facility upgrades, terminations, and buy-sell turndowns.”

Hayes received his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University. He was nominated by Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II of Miami Gardens.

Jason Allen, 39, is a partner at Bass Sox Mercer, which “represents automobile, truck and motorcycle dealers in complex commerical transactions,” its website says.


Allen got his undergraduate degree from Florida State, where he was a member of the golf team, and his law degree from Mercer University School of Law, his bio says.

He served as a staff attorney for then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, now the state’s Republican U.S. senator, and later as a clerk for state Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston.

Allen succeeds Commissioner Sean Hall and is appointed for a term beginning Aug. 24 and ending Dec. 31, 2020. He was nominated by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican.

The appointments are subject to state Senate confirmation.

Flags at half-staff for John McCain

Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday ordered flags at half-staff for the late U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Scott referred to President Donald Trump‘s proclamation “directing all flags to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on the day of interment.”

“Pursuant to the Presidential Proclamation, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida,” Scott said.

The order is effective immediately.

“My wife Ann and I are deeply saddened to hear the news about Sen. McCain. McCain was a true American hero,” he said in a statement.

“As a Navy man myself, I’ve always had immense respect for Sen. McCain. A lot of folks talk tough, but he was the real deal.

“From one Navy family to another, we extend our sincerest gratitude for his strength and perseverance. John will always be a beacon of hope and perseverance for America.

“He was a true fighter and fought every day for this country. We will miss him dearly but take comfort in knowing his legacy will live on forever.”

McCain, 81, died Saturday about a year after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, “a rare honor bestowed on only 31 people in 166 years,” USA Today reported.

Flags at half-staff for Clay County deputy

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered flags at half-staff for Deputy Ben Zirbel of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Zirbel died last Wednesday. The 12-year veteran “spent days in critical condition, following a crash while he was on motorcycle patrol,” WOKV News reported.

A funeral will be held Saturday. Zirbel leaves behind a wife and 8-year-old son.

Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs, Green Cove Springs City Hall, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in Orange Park, and the Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

“My wife Ann and I are heartbroken to learn of the loss of Deputy Zirbel,” Scott said in a statement. “Our brave men and women in uniform put themselves in danger every day to keep our communities safe and we will always be grateful for their sacrifices.

“I encourage all Floridians to join us in praying for Deputy Zirbel’s loved ones and the entire Clay County law enforcement community.”

Julie Brown, Gary Clark to stay on PSC

Incumbents Julie Brown and Gary Clark are staying on the Florida Public Service Commission.

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday said he had reappointed the two to serve another four-year term each. His picks are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

The five-member panel regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities.

Clark, 50, of Chipley, had been Deputy Secretary of land and recreation at the Department of Environmental Protection.

Brown, 43, of Tampa, previously was Associate Legal Counsel for First American Title Insurance Co., and an assistant city attorney for the City of Tampa.

They were among six names sent to Scott for consideration by the Public Service Commission Nominating Council. The position pays $132,000 a year and is based in Tallahassee.

Brown’s and Clark’s current terms expire at the end of the year. The Florida Constitution forbids commissioners from serving more than three four-year terms.

Brown first joined the panel in 2011; Clark was tapped by Scott last year.

He is finishing the term of now-CFO Jimmy Patronis, himself named by the governor to replace Jeff Atwater as state chief financial officer.

Atwater left elected office early to work for Florida Atlantic University.

Personnel note: Rachel Nordby joins Shutts & Bowen

Rachel Nordby, who’s been a deputy solicitor general for Attorney General Pam Bondi, is heading to the Shutts & Bowen law firm as a partner in the Tallahassee office, the firm announced Friday.

Nordby, who starts Sept. 10, will be vice chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group.

Her hire follows another recent high-profile addition from state government: Ben Gibson, a former deputy general counsel to Gov. Rick Scott, joined the firm as a partner in its Business Litigation Practice Group in Tallahassee.

“Shutts & Bowen is Florida’s oldest statewide law firm, founded in 1910 when Henry Flagler recruited his favorite lawyer, Frank Shutts, to relocate to Miami and handle legal affairs for his railroad and resort hotels,” said Jason Gonzalez, managing partner of the Tallahassee office.

“With the hiring of Rachel Nordby and Ben Gibson, we are carrying on Flagler’s tradition of recruiting the best legal talent in Florida.”

Nordby, a 2008 graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, is married to Daniel Nordby, currently general counsel to Scott — and a former Shutts partner. As general counsel, he’s Scott’s top legal advisor holds great sway over who Scott taps for judicial appointments.

Gonzalez himself is a former general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida and to Gov. Charlie Crist, whom he advised on four state Supreme Court appointments: Charles CanadyRicky PolstonJorge Labarga, and James E.C. Perry.

“I hired Dan Nordby, Rachel Nordby and Ben Gibson as my law clerks when they were in law school over a decade ago,” Gonzalez said.

“Rachel and Dan have become hands-down the most talented husband and wife lawyer duo in this state,” he added. “Just look at the cases they have won at the highest courts and the clients they have been representing (the governor and attorney general). It’s an amazing record of winning.”

To name a few, those cases include successful defenses of Florida’s teacher evaluation policies, the state’s fuel tax policy (challenged by the Seminole Tribe of Florida), and the Communications Services Tax and Tax Credit Scholarship Program, Gonzalez said.

Rachel Nordby was less successful on another high-profile case this year: She was on the team of lawyers that lost a challenge organized by Orlando attorney John Morgan of the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana. That decision is now under appeal, however.

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