Gov. DeSantis appoints prominent Republicans to Elections Commission, breaking year-plus delay

Magnifying glass is looking at the people stand near the checkbox for voting in elections. Lobbying interests, election corruption, voter bribery, and rigging election results. Selective focus
All current Florida Election Commission members have expired terms.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed three new members to the Florida Elections Commission, the panel charged with ensuring transparency in elections throughout the state and adjudicating related cases.

The move comes after more than a year of inaction by the Governor, the only Florida official who by law can add members to the commission, which currently is comprised entirely of members with expired terms and hasn’t been able to establish quorum since May.

DeSantis’ new appointees are all Republican. Two served under U.S. Sen. Rick Scott while he was Governor. Each is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

The most recognizable is Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former state Representative and Miami-Dade Property Appraiser who was Florida’s 19th Lieutenant Governor from 2014 to 2019 under Scott.

Since leaving office, he has continued to run his political committee, Helping You, which this year gave to the campaigns of Miami-Dade Judge Elisabeth Espinosa, whom DeSantis appointed in 2019; Sen. Ileana Garcia; and Reps. Anthony Rodriguez and Bryan Avila, who are running for separate seats on the Miami-Dade Commission.

Lopez-Cantera also chairs U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s Judicial Advisory Committee.

Another DeSantis appointee, Nicholas Primrose, will chair the FEC, Desantis’ office said.

The last time a Governor appointed an FEC chairman was in June 2015.

Before becoming chief of regulatory compliance for the Jacksonville Port Authority, his current job, Primrose served as general counsel for the administrations of both Scott and DeSantis.

Lastly, DeSantis appointed retired Miami police detective Marva Preston, whom he endorsed last year in her unsuccessful campaign for Senate District 3.

Once confirmed by the Florida Senate, the appointees will join four sitting FEC commissioners: Vice Chair Joni Poitier, a Jacksonville lawyer whose commission term expired Dec. 31, 2019; Jason Allen, a Tallahassee lawyer whose term also ended in December 2019; Kymberlee Smith, a lawyer and Legal Services of Greater Miami board member whose term ended last year; and J. Martin Hayes, a partner with the law firm Akerman who is still serving nearly nine months after his term concluded.

Other former members, Fort Lauderdale lawyer Barbara Stern and Oskaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Pat Hollarn, served long past their terms. Stern stepped down in May, 18 months after her term ended. Hollarn left in December after serving four years beyond her term limits.

Florida election commissioners will have their work cut out for them later this year, when new voting structures DeSantis signed into law in May will be tested.

The nine-seat FEC is comprised of members the Governor appoints from six names provided to him by the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House and the minority leaders of both Florida Legislative chambers.

There’s one exception: The Governor may choose a commission chair from outside that list.

No more than five commissioners can be from the same political party at any one time, the FEC website says.

The FEC is an arm of the Florida Department of Legal Affairs, but its budget and operations are not subject to the control, supervision or direction of the department or Attorney General Ashley Moody.

DeSantis’ office announced the FEC appointments at the same time it did six members of the Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

He also appointed former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein to the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Alex

    August 20, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    So our far right freedumb caucus founding member Governor just appointed all his pal Republicans to enforce campaign finance laws in Florida.

    What could possibly be more innocent, evenhanded and transparent?

  • Anna

    August 21, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    My neighbor’s aunt makes 62 every hour on the internet..ppi she has been without work for eight months but the previous month her revenue was 19022 only working on the laptop 5 hours a day..

    check this ……

Comments are closed.


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