Laurel Lee leaves Secretary of State post amid talk of congressional run
Laurel Lee. Image via Colin Hackley.

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The Thonotosassa Republican's resignation will be effective on Monday

Secretary of State Laurel Lee is stepping down from her position in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration. The move comes amid speculation the Thonotosassa Republican will soon launch a campaign for Congress.

Lee submitted a letter of resignation to DeSantis, effective Monday, May 16.

“I am so grateful for the confidence you placed in me, and it was my honor to work in your administration, serving the citizens of Florida to build a stronger future for our state,” Lee wrote.

The Governor’s Office praised Lee as she exits.

“We are grateful to Secretary Lee for her service to the State of Florida,” said Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokesperson.

“Over the past 20 years, Florida has become one of the best states in the nation at administering elections, and Secretary Lee built on that tradition. As Secretary of State, she helped ensure Florida had an efficient election in 2020, with accurate results. Further, during her tenure, the Department of State formed strong partnerships with federal agencies to make sure Florida received all possible federal resources that are available to prevent and respond to cyber threats on elections. We wish her the best of luck in all her future endeavors.”

DeSantis appointed Lee as Florida’s Secretary of State in January 2019, shortly after winning his election as Governor. She was actually the second person DeSantis named to the post but a Blackface scandal forced Mike Ertel to resign shortly after he was appointed to the job.

Before her current role in DeSantis’ administration, Lee served as a Circuit Judge in Hillsborough County, a seat she had initially been appointed to by former Gov. Rick Scott. She previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Florida, and before then as an assistant public defender in the same federal district.

She’s also wife to former Senate President Tom Lee, himself once rumored as a candidate for Congress.

Generally well-regarded on both sides of the aisle, Lee has been in the middle of a number of political battles around the administration of elections. Her office came under fire when the state’s voter registration website crashed on the last day to register to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election. She later told the Legislature an unnatural amount of traffic brought the site down that day, and that a deliberate attack had not been ruled out.

But leaders in both parties praised the administration of Florida’s elections, which did not see court challenges like those experienced in other states.

Lee in her resignation letter expressed pride in the work done by the State Department during her years at the helm.

“Together, we protected and grew Florida’s competitive business climate, preserved Florida’s incredible historical resources, supported Florida’s arts and culture community, and strengthened Florida’s election systems,” she wrote to DeSantis. “Because of your leadership, the Department of State is stronger and better than when we found it.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • Brian

    May 12, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    I suspected Secretary Lee might be the next Supreme Court member….

    Reply

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