‘You choose now to disobey the law’: Nikki Fried says Ron DeSantis illegally appointed DEP Secretary

DeSantis Fried 3.25.21
DeSantis 'lacks the legal authority' to appoint a Department of Environmental Protection Secretary alone, Fried said.

A months-old dispute over how the Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection must be appointed reignited Tuesday night, just hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis named someone to the job.

By promoting interim DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton to serve in the role permanently, DeSantis broke state law by skipping a necessary step in the appointment process, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried claimed.

Florida Statutes require any DEP Secretary appointment to be approved by both the Governor’s three-member Cabinet, of which Fried is a member, and the Florida Senate.

As such, DeSantis “lacks the legal authority to unilaterally make this appointment,” said Fried, who on Tuesday also filed financial disclosures necessary for her to run for Florida Governor next year.

It’s an issue over which Fried, the only statewide-elected Democrat, and DeSantis clashed in mid-June.

The statute in question reads: “The head of the Department of Environmental Protection shall be a secretary, who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the concurrence of three members of the Cabinet. The secretary shall be confirmed by the Florida Senate.”

But DeSantis pointed to a passage in the Florida Constitution granting him power to sidestep that requirement. It reads: “When provided by law, confirmation by the Senate or the approval of three members of the Cabinet shall be required for appointment to or removal from any designated statutory office.”

His interpretation, he said, is approval can come from either the Cabinet or the Senate, but not necessarily both.

“If you actually look at the Constitution, it says either the Cabinet or the Legislature, the Senate,” he said at the time. “The statute says both, but there’s an argument that it conflicts and that it would be one or the other. My sense would be the Legislature would retain their authority rather than give the Cabinet authority, so that would be a live issue potentially, if we end up with a conflict.”

When the last DEP Secretary, Noah Valenstein, was appointed in 2017 under former Gov. Rick Scott, he received full Cabinet approval.

Fried made clear her objection to Hamilton’s appointment wasn’t personal. She noted she had met with him to discuss Florida’s environmental challenges, “including DEP’s failures at Piney Point,” where 215 million gallons of wastewater leaked into Tampa Bay in April.

“I believe him to be a good man and public servant, and he would break the glass ceiling as the first African-American secretary of this agency,” she wrote. “My quarrel is not with him.”

Fried maintained that her objection lays solely with “the alarming increase in (DeSantis’) disregard” for Florida law and the shared governance role of the Cabinet.

“Instead of submitting an appointment in good faith to the Cabinet for a public interview and vote, you chose in June to defensively inject uncertainty into a matter on which state law is clear — just as you choose now to disobey the law and your executive responsibility,” she wrote. “As I said in June, you’re going to have to deal with me and our fellow Cabinet members, if you want this appointment to be approved.”

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.


11 comments

  • Alex

    August 31, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    That’s what authoritarians do.

    • Tom

      September 1, 2021 at 7:08 am

      Yes, Especially the financial fraud queen. As if this hypocrite fraud knows and or Alex. Spare us Nikki Fraud.

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 1, 2021 at 5:42 am

    This white man with his high priced degrees is a damn traitor! No one is above the law! Lock up Duffus Desantis now! Protect and serve the common good you self absorbed ass Duffus Desantis! Get out!

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      September 1, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      🤡🦜🤪😜

  • Impeach Biden

    September 1, 2021 at 7:31 am

    Fried would be the only member of the cabinet to say no. Why give her the chance to grandstand? Plus I’m not convinced that “liberal scream” Fried is completely correct on her assertion..

    • Tom

      September 1, 2021 at 7:54 am

      First African American director
      Appointed by pro environment Governor. Strong accomplishments in 2 plus years for Gov Ron.
      If fraud were smart she’d concur but her liberal scream/hate can’t stop herself.
      She looks small, petty and ugly motives. But hey, why change.
      Typical liberal extremism. Haters delight.

  • Joey Garcia

    September 1, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Fuck u tom…
    That asshole need to get drugged out the governor office and be shot…
    Fuck desantis…

    • Tom

      September 1, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Yes Jose happy mentally ill day.
      Not happening, He will get re-elected

      Btw, F You See Kay, tell her Y O U.

  • Harold Finch

    September 1, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Dictator DeSantis!! What a Jackass!!!

  • Tom

    September 2, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Wonderful legal appointment by Governor Ron in appointing Shawn Hamilton as DEP Sec.

    A past veteran of the U.S. Air Force who has severed in the depart for years, this appointment represents quality and diversity. Shockingly the stalker opposes this diverse appointment. Fraud apparently met with the appointee but opposed the appointment process. Memo, just drop your stalker opposition and Support him. My goodness. Florida Senate approval.

  • Skip

    September 2, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Does anyone believe what freaky Nikki has to say. Not many.

Comments are closed.


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