Takeaways from Tallahassee — Shattering glass ceilings

Blue Tally Takeaways (2)
One school alumna is laying the groundwork for Black women to thrive at FSU Law.

Mission accomplished

Salesia V. Smith-Gordon is giving back to her alma mater. And in return, her alma mater — Florida State University — is thanking her publicly.

The Florida State University College of Law is hanging a portrait of Smith-Gordon in its rotunda on Thursday, marking the first Black alumna to be recognized in this fashion.

A West Palm Beach personal injury trial attorney, Smith-Gordon made a $200,000 gift to the law school to help seed an endowment that will provide scholarships for Black law students and support greater cultural diversity in the college. It is the largest gift a Black alumna has ever given FSU’s law school.

The mother-daughter duo of Jeraldine Williams and Salesia Smith-Gordon have already made school history. Image via FSU.

“As an African American female lawyer, I felt it was of the utmost importance to find a way to help ensure that Black students, especially women, had the support and resources needed for academic success,” she said in a prepared statement.

While Smith-Gordon is the first Black alumna to be recognized with a portrait in the rotunda, she’s already made school history. Her mother, Jeraldine Williams, graduated from FSU Law in 1981. And when Smith-Gordon graduated in 1992 she became a part of school history being one half of the first mother-daughter pair to graduate from the College of Law.

Smith-Gordon helped launch the Black Alumni Network (BAN) in 2021 with the goal of creating increased opportunities for Black students to attend law school and to increase diversity on the College of Law’s campus.

FSU College of Law opened in 1966 and the Honorable Zebedee Wright was the first Black person to graduate in 1971. In a promotional video for BAN last year Smith-Gordon said 591 Black students had graduated since.

“That’s not a small number,” she said at the time. “But it’s not a large number either in comparison.”

Her goals for BNA in the first year included highlighting the success both in and out of the courtroom that FSU College of Law Black alumni have enjoyed. She also wanted the members of BAN to work to encourage Black students to attend the law school and to provide the support they need to retain them.

And her last goal?

“We will have an endowed scholarship to show that we didn’t just walk through these halls but we thrived in spite of them,” she said.

Mission accomplished.


Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo DowneyChristine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Backlash continues over migrant flights — Resistance against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to send flights of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard continued mounting this week. Venezuelan migrants flown to the Massachusetts island sued DeSantis and the Transportation Secretary on Tuesday for engaging in a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to relocate them. Charlie Crist continued condemning the “political stunt.” Sen. Jason Pizzo filed a lawsuit to block DeSantis from continuing the program. There was also a flare-up over a flight scheduled to land near President Joe Biden’s Delaware home, which DeSantis reportedly canceled to “punk” the media. Although former President Donald Trump dodged a question about the flights, Jared Kushner criticized the move during a Fox News sitdown: “Seeing them being used as political pawns one way or the other is very troubling to me.”

Judge denies motion to reinstate Andrew Warren — Federal Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday rejected a request from Warren to reinstate him as Hillsborough State Attorney and overturn DeSantis’ move to suspend him from office over a pledge he made not to prosecute abortion-related crimes. While Hinkle rejected the injunction, he scrutinized the state’s argument and opted instead to hold a trial on the matter. Hinkle expressed concern about “yo-yo-ing” the office if he were to reinstate Warren, then DeSantis appeals and the Governor’s chosen replacement, Susan Lopez, is put back in.

DeSantis wants further crackdown on Chinese influence — DeSantis signed an executive order Thursday prohibiting state agencies from contracting with Chinese-based companies for projects that could allow them to access Floridians’ personal data. It’s part of a broader crackdown on the Chinese government’s attempts to “infiltrate” institutions throughout the country. DeSantis also said he’ll push the Legislature next year to ban gifts from certain “malign” foreign countries, such as China, Russia, Cuba and Iran, to higher education institutions. The proposal follows a law DeSantis promoted for last year’s Legislative Session, which requires universities and colleges to disclose any gifts worth more than $50,000.

DeSantis floats $1.1B tax cut aimed at kids’ items — Flush with a $20 billion surplus, padded with the federal COVID-19 stimulus, DeSantis wants lawmakers next year to pass another large tax cut plan, which he says will save families $1.1 billion. The proposal largely targets eliminating the sales tax on items for babies and small children, including diapers, toys, cribs, strollers and children’s books. Lawmakers passed a one-year exemption on sales taxes on diapers and clothes for babies this year, but DeSantis wants to make it permanent. That provision is estimated to save consumers $133 million.

Florida asks SCOTUS to visit social media ruling — Florida is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to protect Florida’s social media “deplatforming” law after appeals courts issued conflicting rulings. Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an appeal on Wednesday asking the Court to overturn a ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which in May displaced the law on First Amendment grounds. However, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a conflicting ruling just last week over a similar Texas law, putting the issue on a path destined for the nation’s high court. The internet groups that brought the cases in both states are on board with taking the matter to the high court.

Young entrepreneurs

DeSantis awarded $1.9 million to benefit entrepreneurship and training programs at eight state colleges and 17 school districts in the Sunshine State.

The funding, announced Thursday, will help students learn about how to run a small business and connect them with available opportunities in their area. The awards will create and support programs at colleges, high schools and middle schools.

“Becoming a business owner is one of the best ways to achieve economic mobility,” DeSantis said in a recorded video, “and in Florida, we have created a climate that allows small businesses to thrive.”

On top of a booming small business industry, which DeSantis credited to the state’s economic policies since 2020, the Governor touted Florida’s education system as the best in the world for entrepreneurship education and training.

More than 20,000 Florida students have earned an industry certification in Entrepreneurship and Small Business (ESB), mostly since 2020. Florida represents about half of all ESB certificates earned in the United States since the certificate was first launched in 2017.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has led the way in ensuring our students have adequate skills-based training through Career and Technical Education programs,” Commissioner of Education Manny Díaz said in a prepared statement. “These programs are rigorous, in-demand and allow students the opportunity to dive into a career quickly and without debt.”

Force quit

Attorney General Ashley Moody continued her push to silence the annoying robots bugging Floridians around the clock.

Though not as pesky as the top-of-the-line models from Hyperdyne or Cyberdyne, robocallers have hijacked the U.S. telephone, and the dissolute companies behind them are raking in billions from Americans through fraudulent schemes. They’re costing law enforcement and telecom companies a bundle, too.

Ashley Moody is as fed up as you are with robocalls. Image via AP.

Moody is hoping to stop the bots by advocating for more rigorous enforcement by the Federal Communications Commission. So, she joined 50 other Attorneys General this week to support a proposed rule change regarding “gateway providers,” which are essentially the switchboard operators giving bots bogus numbers and an all-access pass to the phone network.

The new rule would expand a recent FCC change to get the few holdout phone companies that, although largely invisible to the public, are exclusively responsible for routing fraudulent and illegal calls across the U.S. phone network, regardless of where the calls originate.

The rule would also force companies to respond to law enforcement traceback requests within 24 hours and block illegal traffic as soon as possible.

“I am joining attorneys general from across the nation urging the FCC to strengthen federal rules to ensure gateway providers are doing everything they can to protect Americans from unlawful robocalls,” Moody said.

Safe Fiona relief

Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Fiona on Puerto Rico, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is providing tips on how Floridians can safely help support those affected.

Most charities soliciting within Florida are required to register and file financial information with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). While it is up to donors to determine if their contribution will be spent the way they intend, the department makes it easier for donors to access that information by making registration and financial documentation available online at FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico need help after Hurricane Fiona. Image via AP.

Fried and FDACS “encourage Floridians looking to support recovery efforts to review our list of best practices to avoid scams and sham charities so that your generosity can make the most impact possible for our neighbors in need,” she said in a statement.

FDACS lists a few tips to help donors stay safe, including using its Check-a-Charity tool, googling the organization’s name to check for complaints, scams and reviews, asking how much of the donation goes to administrative costs, paying with a credit card or check and not giving in to pressure to donate immediately — a possible sign of an illegitimate charity.

“We are praying for the strength and safety of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Fiona,” Fried said. “This most recent storm has caused widespread devastation to the island’s infrastructure and residents that are still recovering five years after being struck by Hurricane Maria, a deadly category 5 storm.”

Storm’s a-brewin’

With South Florida looking down the barrel of a possible hurricane, it’s time to re-up calls for hurricane preparedness.

Tropical Storm Ian is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall in Southwest Florida in the coming days, the tail end of is National Preparedness Month. Floridians hopefully took advantage of the first four weeks of September to do their hurricane prep, but it’s not too late to fill your pantries and gas tanks.

Jimmy Patronis wants Floridians to protect their lives — and their property.

On Thursday, back when the tropical system was known as Invest 98L, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis urged people to begin preparing for the storm, which projections predict will make landfall mid-week.

“The height of the 2022 Hurricane Season is upon us and right now there are multiple storms brewing in the Atlantic that we are monitoring closely; particularly Invest 98L,” Patronis said in a statement. “I am urging Floridians not to wait until the storm begins to approach the state, but to gather hurricane materials and personal essentials before it’s too late.”

The 2022 National Preparedness Month theme is “A Lasting Legacy.”

“Hurricanes are dangerous and unpredictable and that is why you need to prepare now to protect you and your family and leave ‘a lasting legacy’ of preparedness for future generations to follow,” Patronis continued. “When it comes to disasters, having a plan is vital and our Emergency Preparedness Toolkit is designed to help you prepare a home inventory and organize your financial information to ensure you can recover from a storm quickly.”

PrepareFL.com contains storm resources and preparedness tips like conducting a home inventory, securing flood insurance coverage, ensuring adequate coverage, considering additional living expense coverage and not waiting until storms approach. Property insurance companies do not accept new applications or requests to increase coverage once a hurricane nears Florida, Patronis warned.

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

Judicial Qualifications Commission — DeSantis named Jonathan Bronitsky and Michelle Montanaro to the commission, which is charged with investigating allegations of misconduct by justices and judges. The Governor must appoint non-attorneys to the fifteen-member commission. Bronitsky, of Delray Beach, is the co-founder and CEO of Athos Media Strategies and is the former chief speechwriter for U.S. Attorney General William Barr and former senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Justice. Montanaro, of Tallahassee, is a paralegal at Shutts & Bowen. She previously served as a judicial assistant at the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court. Both were appointed to serve the remainder of a term expiring Dec. 31, 2026.

Judicial Nominating Commissions — The Governor made four appointments and reappointments to the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions. Attorney Shelley Reynolds, of Pensacola, was appointed to the 1st Judicial Circuit JNC. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida and her law degree from Florida State University. Natalie Christmas, of Tallahassee, was appointed to the 2nd Judicial Circuit JNC. Christmas is the assistant Attorney General of Legal Policy for the Office of the Attorney General. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Vanderbilt University. Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick partner Hunter Norton, of Sarasota, was reappointed to the 12th Judicial Circuit JNC. He received his bachelor’s degree from Regents College and his law degree from the University of Miami. Tyson & Mendes partner Charles Reynolds II, of Tampa, was appointed to the 13th Judicial Circuit JNC. He received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from Mercer University.

Brevard County Supervisor of Elections — DeSantis appointed Timothy Bobanic as Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, effective Oct. 1. Bobanic, of Melbourne, is the director of information technology and election services for the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, a position he has held since 2013. He was previously the director of information technology for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. A master Florida certified election professional, Bobanic earned his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of South Florida.

Cancer Connect

First Lady and breast cancer survivor Casey DeSantis says Florida’s centralized website for those battling cancer has been updated with a full Spanish translation.

Florida Cancer Connect now features a translated site plus testimonials from Hispanic cancer survivors, recorded and produced in both Spanish and English. Those videos will premier over the next month, and existing English testimonials will have Spanish subtitles available.

Casey DeSantis has made her new cancer portal bilingual.

DeSantis hopes adding a full Spanish translation and Spanish testimonials will allow the webpage to reach more Floridians and spread awareness on the resources available across the state.

“Florida Cancer Connect is an extension of our longstanding commitment to all Floridians impacted by cancer,” the First Lady said in a statement. “Our goal is to make cancer resources user friendly, which is why I’m excited to announce the addition of readily available Spanish resources to increase the accessibility of support to those in the cancer fight looking for help and hope.”

Florida, as the third-largest state, is second in the nation for newly diagnosed cancer cases.

Florida Cancer Connect launched last month as an initiative of the First Lady, who was declared cancer free earlier this year. The website provides information on cancer treatment, caregiver tools and stories from brave Floridians who have fought the disease.

Take the Power Back

The Public Service Commission will meet next week to discuss proposed changes to a 30-year-old rule that clean energy advocates say will entrench the harm that causes Floridians’ higher bills.

The PSC will hold a rulemaking workshop on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to hear from stakeholders, the public and power companies regarding its draft rule on setting energy efficiency goals. Clean energy advocates at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are billing the meeting as an electric showdown between customers and the state’s biggest power companies, a rage against the machine.

In the right light, study becomes insight.

“Thousands of comments have been filed by customers demanding that the commission reform its outdated practices,” said George Cavros, the Florida director and energy policy attorney for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Despite mounting public criticism, the commission’s most recent draft rule would cement the status quo and further burden hard-working Floridians with higher power bills. This workshop is the perfect arena for Florida families to make their voices heard.”

The current rule, which has been in place since 1993, outlines the process by which utility companies propose 10-year goals and the PSC sets those goals. Among other changes, the proposed rule asks each utility to file a technical potential study that would be used to develop demand-side management, conservation and efficiency benchmarks.

Know the date

Florida families can celebrate Gold Star Family Day this Sunday.

DeSantis this week signed a proclamation declaring the last Sunday of the month Gold Star Family Day honoring the mothers, fathers and siblings of someone who died in the line of duty.

Since World War I, a “Gold Star Family” has signified a family that has lost one of its members in combat. The family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for any military family members who have died from any honorable cause. Each gold star on the flag signifies a death.

Gold Star Family Day is an opportunity to honor those who lost loved ones in the line of duty. Image via AP.

Though not as well known as Memorial Day, Congress in 1936 declared the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” Former President Barack Obama in 2011 amended the declaration, declaring the day to include families as well as mothers.

Today, the holiday includes any immediate family member and authorizes that person to display the Gold Star Service Flag.

Florida will fly the Honor and Remember Flag in honor of the state’s Gold Star Families. According to the Governor’s proclamation, there are about 1,200 Gold Star license plates in circulation in the state as of this month.

“We honor all Gold Star Families and throughout the nation for their courage and tenacity in the face of the tremendous sacrifices made by their loved ones,” the proclamation notes.

Showered in care

From 9 a.m. to noon, Rep. Tracie Davis will help Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition put on its sixth annual community baby shower in Jacksonville.

The free event, held at the nonprofit’s The Magnolia Project building near Jacksonville University, will help connect new and expectant mothers with the tools they need to raise happy and healthy kids. The program also seeks to raise awareness for the high infant mortality numbers in Jacksonville.

Tracie Davis is running for Senate and running a program to help new moms. Image via Colin Hackley.

In 2019, 136 infants died before their first birthday locally. In 2020, the city’s infant mortality rate was 7.8 — a number higher than the state rate, 5.8, and the national rate, 5.6.

“Bringing our community together to provide our new and expectant mothers with the tools they need to care for their newborn is invaluable,” Davis said. “For the sixth year in a row, it has been my pleasure to surround these families with the love, education and encouragement that is key to establishing a solid foundation and bright future for all of our children.”

The baby shower is a free drive-thru and walk up event. The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition is a nonprofit dedicated to reducing infant death and improving the health of pregnant women, babies, fathers and their families.

Health and wellness

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani and Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns are lending their efforts today to the 19th Annual Caribbean Health Summit, where participants can get screened for blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, prostate specific antigen, Alzheimer’s, as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Participants also will be offered dental and vision screenings as well as a mental wellness check.

Anna V. Eskamani and crew are holding the event from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m.

“Make Mental Wellness a Lifestyle” is the theme of this year’s event, which is hosted by the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention in collaboration with the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, the Orange County Department of Health, Advent Health and Florida Hospital.

“This event is the only one of its kind with a crucial focus on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our community. In Tallahassee and back home in Central Florida, we’re doing everything we can to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare and invite our family, friends, and neighbors to take advantage of this great opportunity for care,” Eskamani said in a prepared statement.

The free event kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Dr. James R. Smith Center and ends at 3 p.m.

Self love

The Capital City now has a “Wall of Honor” celebrating the history of Leon County’s property appraisers.

“The display honors the past, present, and future achievements of the property appraiser’s office,” Leon County Property Appraiser Akin Akinyemi said at the unveiling. “Each of the individuals depicted on the display have made great contributions through their service to Leon County residents and property owners. Their legacies deserve to be remembered and celebrated.”

Akin Akinyemi is honoring those who came before him.

Joining Akinyemi at the unveiling ceremony were former Leon County Property Appraiser Bert Hartsfield and wife, Lin Hartsfield. Nearly 25 years after getting elected, Hatsfield, who is credited with modernizing the office, announced his resignation. Akinyemi was elected his successor in 2016.

Additionally, Hartsfield’s predecessor, former Leon County Property Appraiser Clarence Cleveland “Dick” Brand also attended the celebration as did former Leon County Court Clerk Dave Lang, city Treasurer-Clerk Jim Cooke and Director of Records Management Matt Lutz.

The property appraiser’s office is charged with appraising all real and personal property, administering property exemptions and classifications, processing deeds, and sending notices of proposed property taxes. The annual tax roll that is produced is used to develop the budgets of Tallahassee, Leon County, public schools, water management districts and special districts including health care.

Hall of Fame bound

Scott Price is a second generation Florida State University College of Business alumnus, and in October will be inducted into its Hall of Fame — one of only three graduates who have received the honor.

Price, who graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from FSU in 1997, recently awarded a $2.7 million gift to the College of Business, of which $2 million will be directed to the Scott G. Price and Family Endowed Scholarship in Accounting.

Scott Price completed FSU bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting during the same year, 1997. Graphic via FSU.

The endowment will fund nine credit hours to high-performing accounting undergraduates that can be applied toward requirements for both their bachelor’s degree and FSU’s Master of Accounting, or MAcc. It also includes the Scott G. Price MAcc Scholarships, an endowment that will fund eight Price Scholars annually and provide about 50% of their program tuition cost.

Michael Hartline, dean of the College of Business, said the Price Accounting Scholars Program will allow the college to recruit the best and brightest accounting students. The Department of Accounting already boasts the nation’s No. 21-ranked program among public universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Moreover, Price earmarked $700,000 to name a seating area and signature connector in Legacy Hall, the future home of the College of Business, the Scott G. Price and Family Forum Stairs. The $700,000 comes on top of $300,000 Price had already given for Legacy Hall naming.

Price is able to be generous because he launched A-LIGN, a Tampa-based cybersecurity company that boasts a global workforce of more than 600 employees and has more than 3,500 global clients, including Alloy, Sprint and Raymond James.

In February, the Seminole 100 recognized A-LIGN — for a fifth straight year — as one of the fastest-growing companies owned or led by an FSU graduate.

“FSU has been a part of my life and an identity for who I am since I was a child,” Price said. “When you get to a point in your life where you’re able to give back to something that gave you so much, you give back.”

Rattling docs

FAMU students Jazlyn Byrd and Shelecia Reid, have been selected for the American Heart Association (AHA) Scholars Program at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

For the second year in a row, Quest Diagnostics is supporting FAMU students in the program, said Dr. Charlene Walton, director of the HBCU Scholars Program and Collegiate Diversity Partnerships Health Strategies for the AHA Southeast Region.

“We are honored and excited to play a role in their development as future biomedical, health science and public health leaders,” Walton said in a statement.

Jazlyn Byrd and Shelecia Reid share the honors and a mentor, FSU College of Medicine professor Dr. Sylvie Naar. Graphic via FAMU.

Byrd is a junior biology and pre-med student from Tallahassee. She’s a Dean’s List scholar and a member of Teaching Our Youth Science and the National Council of Negro Women.

Byrd placed third overall out of 10 undergraduate students and two graduate students with her research, completed at FAMU. She is working hard to pursue her goal of becoming an anesthesiologist and “looks forward to building professional bonds with her fellow scholars.”

Reid is a junior biology student from Lauderhill who hopes to become a dermatologist. She earned a place on the President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s Honor Roll and is a Florida Medallion Scholar and a Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Scholarship Recipient.

Her memberships include the National Society of Black Women in Medicine, Big Sister Little Sister Mentoring Program, Caribbean Student Association and Ardent Volunteer under the guidance of the FAMU Efferson Student Union.

In 2021, Quest Diagnostics supported FAMU inaugural scholars Sapphire Holston and Kerstyn Russell. Quest’s support will allow this year’s scholars to attend the AHA’s International Scientific Sessions, the largest cardiovascular disease conference in the world, held in Chicago in November, and the annual HBCU Scholars Research Symposium in Durham in April.

Search history

You don’t truly know someone until you’ve seen their Google search history. Trust us, you don’t want to know most people.

But in the aggregate, search engine requests can reveal some interesting trends, such as Floridians’ favorite way to lose money. CasinoGrounds recently pulled the search data for various gambling-related terms and created a list of the most popular online casino games by state.

It was a safe bet to call poker as the No. 1 casino game in Florida.

According to the database, Florida is kind of basic — the No. 1 search request was poker, which stretches the definition of “casino game” as it is most often played in man caves with ceiling plaster yellowed by cigar smoke. The most popular tack-on to the search was Texas Hold ‘Em, a variation of the game that hit its pop-culture peak when Nickelback and OutKast were relevant.

No. 2 was blackjack, a casino staple that also serves as a quick lesson on the futility of most types of insurance. The third-place slot went to bingo, which is the game many non-Floridians closely associate with the Sunshine State and, again, is just as common to find in a VFW hall as it is in a casino. No. 4 was baccarat, James Bond’s preferred game despite EON Productions trying its darndest to convince filmgoers otherwise. The list concludes with keno, a game of ancient Asian origin that proves people were praying to RNGesus before the Nazarene had his first follower.

“It is fascinating to see how many people search for gambling games online. With an average of 30,000 searches each month for ‘online poker’ in the United States, online poker is the most popular online casino game in America, so it’s fascinating to see the variation in interest in classic games across different states,” a CasinoGames spokesperson said. “The internet has brought together people who love gambling in a huge community online, where people can play a vast array of games without having to physically be at a casino.”

RIP Antonacci

Longtime government official Pete Antonacci, who was serving as the head of Florida’s new election police unit, has died after suffering a heart attack.

DeSantis had named Antonacci, who served multiple Republican administrations — and alongside Democrats — during his lengthy career, to lead the Department of State’s Office of Election Crimes and Security less than four months prior.

He was in the Capitol when he suffered a heart attack.

Pete Antonacci was often called a Republican fixer, but he was respected by both sides for his service.

“730and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Peter Antonacci, Director of the Office of Elections Crimes and Security,” DeSantis said in a statement. “He was a dedicated, tenacious and assiduous public servant, lawyer and respected professional — a friend to all in the State of Florida.”

At the Department of State, Antonacci worked under Cord Byrd.

“Pete was a steadfast public servant throughout his career and played an important role at the Florida Department of State having been appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in July as Director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security,” Byrd said. “My thoughts and prayers and those of the employees who worked closely with Pete are with his family and loved ones.”

Others in the process also mourned his loss, like his successor as Palm Beach State Attorney, Dave Aronberg. The pair also worked together beginning in 1999 under Democratic Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

“I never knew he was a Republican working for a Democratic AG, because it didn’t matter,” Aronberg said. “Pete always put public service and the rule of law ahead of partisanship.”

Crist also had words for Antonacci’s family.

“Governor Crist extends his deepest condolences to Peter Antonacci’s family, friends, and loved ones,” spokeswoman Samantha Ramirez said. “Peter Antonacci was a dedicated and respected public servant with a long history of working with members from both sides of the aisle to better Florida. May he rest in peace.”

Campaign Directions

Ron DeSantis — Crossways — The $12 million question: Are the migrant flights a political win or a loss?

DeSantis ‘24 — Up arrow — Go ahead and add 99 delegates to the board.

Perla  Down arrow  Worst. Travel agent. Ever.

James Montgomerie — Down arrow — Hopefully $1.5M helps the CEO of Vitriol, er, Vertol Systems, sleep at night.

Jason Pizzo — Up arrow — He has a lot of courtroom experience. And a lot of questions.

Lauren Poe — Up arrow — Gainesville might need to upgrade its airport, but that’s nothing $12 million wouldn’t solve.

Andrew Warren — Down arrow — Where’s the Uno reverse card when you need it?

Jason Brodeur — Crossways arrow — He’s probably going to win another term despite the Orlando Sentinel’s efforts.

Nikki Fried — Down arrow — Somebody tell her that the 30-day, no-contact rule applies to elections, too.

Dane Eagle — Up arrow — City & State says he’s more important than Moody and Patronis, so you know it’s true.

China — Down arrow — Winnie the Pooh is feeling a lot like Eeyore right now.

Amex, Visa — Down arrow — Is the new purchase category for bonus cash back, or are they just spying on us?

Facebook, Google, etc. — Crossways arrow — Moody is challenging them to best two out of three.

Parents with school-aged kids — Up arrow — A year-round sales tax holiday for books, toys and sports gear should help them deal with inflation.

Freedom Week — Up arrow — What does its name say about the other 51 weeks of the year? Who cares, take the discount.

Terry Gwinn — Up arrow — Gwinn Brothers Farm is about to become a lot more profitable.

NIL — Crossways arrow — It’s a more appealing recruit convo than the kinesiology program. Too bad it’s off-limits.

Jamie Grosshans — Down arrow — She’ll probably be retained. She probably won’t get a fan club.

Law schools — Down arrow — What would you say … you do here?

Rocky Hanna — Crossways arrow — We get his point, but it’s the lamest diss track we’ve ever heard.

FAMU — Down arrow — They could close the gap by slashing the admin budget. Students are handling those functions for them.

Drew Piers — Up arrow — The youngest partner at Sachs Media is the newest winner of FSU’s Reubin O’D. Askew Young Alumni Award.

Amazon — Up arrow — Package delayed, but still in transit.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Tom

    September 24, 2022 at 8:07 am

    Americans earning $4,200 a year thanks to Biden, Harris economy. Shameful.

    Double digit inflation, due to the $6 trillion in new spending since he was sworn in.

    Biden, Harris economy.

    • Tom

      September 24, 2022 at 9:39 am

      Up to 70% of Americans feel unsafe with neighborhood crime, due to and since Biden/Harris took office. Crime is on a rampage.

      Americans have seen a loss of $4,200 in earnings since Biden took office.

      Are you better off today, compared to 20 months ago? No. Biden/Harris disaster.

Comments are closed.


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