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Please, Jackie Schutz, don’t do it

Jackie Schutz, the communications director in Gov. Rick Scott’s office, is one of the rising stars of Florida politics.

Scratch that. That is not accurate. Schutz is beyond that. She’s already a star.

Mentored by at least two of the best professionals in the business, Brian Hughes and Cory Tilley, Schutz has already assembled an impressive resume.

Prior to working for Scott and at Core Message, Schutz gained experience working in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s press office and in the Office of External Affairs. She’s worked in the House of Commons and interned in the White House. She’s campaigned for George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani.

Like I said, she’s not a rising star, she’s a full-fledged player in her own right.

Unfortunately, she’s in jeopardy of putting her hard-earned reputation at risk.

As the scandal surrounding the Scott administration’s forcing out of FDLE chief Gerald Bailey intensifies, it is Schutz, doing her job as the governor’s spokesperson, who is publicly pushing back against Bailey’s accusations.

According to a Times/Herald report, Bailey said Scott personally asked him if he could “bring in for a landing” an out-of-state investigation of a Miami businessman Scott wanted to appoint to a powerful state board. Bailey declined to identify the businessman.

The Times/Herald confirmed that the FDLE conducted two criminal background checks in 2012 and 2013 on Bernard Klepach, 53, the owner of duty-free shops and the mayor of Indian Creek Village, an affluent enclave in Miami-Dade County. He was under consideration for a vacancy on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Klepach donated the maximum $25,000 to Scott’s first inauguration celebration in 2011.

After Scott’s appointments office requested the background checks on Klepach, the FDLE discovered he was under investigation in Los Angeles.

In the face of this, Schutz described Bailey’s accusation as “petty.”

That’s right, Schutz is calling out a near universally respected, three-decade law enforcement veteran. As Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said of Bailey after he stepped down, “The range and depth of your expertise will be nearly impossible to replace.”

But to Schutz — and her boss, Chief of Staff Melissa Sellers — Bailey is just another political enemy to be attacked.

Don’t do, Jackie. You are better than that.

Say that Bailey deserves gratitude for his decades of public service. Say that Bailey is mistaken. Say that Bailey is entitled to his own version of events.

But don’t turn Bailey into a martyr, even if it may be too late for him not to be.

Jackie Schutz, you know better.

Written By

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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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