First shakeup in Ron DeSantis administration as Capitol staffers exit
Photo via Colin Hackley.

Justin Caporale returns to Trump World for 2020 re-elect

The first significant departures from Gov. Ron DeSantis Capitol staff have happened, although the changes are limited to mid-level positions.

Justin Caporale, the administration’s external affairs director, and Amanda Emmons, DeSantis’ director of scheduling, along with three other staffers — Jacob O’KaneAmanda Pinto, and Robert Wilson — are no longer working in the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG).

O’Kane was an Appointments Analyst, Pinto was Deputy Director of Scheduling, and Wilson also was an Appointments Analyst.

“They have been voluntarily terminated,” according to DeSantis’ top spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré. “They no longer work for the Governor’s Office.”

While the shake-up is somewhat surprising given the effectiveness of the DeSantis administration during the 2019 Legislative Session, Ferre said it was “not unusual for some staffers to leave after the Governor has been in office for the first five or six months.”

Seconding that argument is U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. He helped lead the DeSantis transition and remains an active adviser to the Governor.

Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, noted that more people had left the Rick Scott administration at this point in his time in office then have left DeSantis.

A handful of sources said Caporale had for some time been planning on leaving the administration to join President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign.

However, those close to senior staff in the EOG say Caporale “clashed” with other staffers and would have been asked to leave the administration regardless of his plans.

Caporale is credited with building a robust schedule of appearances for the new Governor. By one estimate, there have been more than 200 public events on DeSantis’ calendar.

Gaetz tweeted that “Amanda & Justin are amazing talents. I hope I have the chance to work w both again.

“Amanda kept our team organized & focused from when we were small enough 2 meet in an elevator, through the most successful opening run for a FL Governor in a generation. Also saved me a bunch!”

Caporale worked as a senior advance and operations lead throughout the Trump campaign before serving in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President and the Director of Operations for the East Wing.

He previously served as the Director of Operations and Chief of Staff for Concerned Veterans for America and most recently worked as Director of Advance for the DeSantis campaign before serving in his current role as Executive Director of the DeSantis-Nuñez Inauguration.

As for Emmons, we’re told, there were complaints about her performance.

“Some people work well in campaigns. Some people work well inside government. Amanda fit into that first category,” said one administration official who asked to remain anonymous because Emmons’ employment status still had not been determined.

Emmons previously served in the transition as the Director of Scheduling, a role she also held throughout the DeSantis campaign.

Prior to her role in the campaign, Emmons worked as a staff assistant to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio where she served as a grant and intern coordinator.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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