Senate President Bill Galvano on Thursday said his chamber won’t act on Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes‘ suspension by Gov. Rick Scott.
The reason: Not enough time.
Galvano also points to a 1934 Florida Supreme Court advisory opinion that suggests Snipes’ rescinding her resignation doesn’t count.
Under the state constitution, the Senate is responsible for deciding whether a suspended public official should be permanently stripped of one’s position or reinstated.
That resignation would have taken effect on Jan. 4, but Scott stepped in Nov. 30, suspending her immediately and naming Enterprise Florida CEO Pete Antonacci as her replacement.
That action prompted Snipes to attempt to take back her resignation and challenge Scott’s suspension.
The “Senate Rules require an inquiry or investigation” before the body decides to act on a suspension, Galvano wrote in a memo to senators.
“We are presented with a situation where Dr. Snipes’ unconditional resignation will take effect Jan. 4, well before the Senate can complete a full investigation into the serious assertions made in the Governor’s Executive Order.”
It became “unconditional” as soon as Scott suspended her and named a replacement, according to Senate General Counsel Jeremiah Hawkes.
That is, Scott suspended Snipes and appointed Antonacci in “reliance” on her resignation, thus she “can no longer withdraw the resignation.”
Moreover, “past Senate practice … dictates if a term ends prior to the Senate being able to take action, then no further proceedings are held,” Galvano added. “For this reason, I have directed (Senate) Secretary (Debbie) Brown to inform Dr. Snipes no further action will be taken by the Senate.
“This decision in no way reflects on Dr. Snipes, the Governor, or their actions,” Galvano said. “The decision merely reflects that no timely action can be taken by the Senate. Nothing precludes Dr. Snipes from seeking a judicial determination of any rights she may have….”
Broward County officials have said they’re considering a lawsuit over the suspension, as has Snipes herself.