Jim Rosica, Author at Florida Politics

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

Supreme Court rules Rick Scott can’t name 3 new justices

The state’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott cannot appoint replacements for the court’s three upcoming vacancies.

“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election (most likely Democrat Andrew Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis) has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince,” the court’s one-page unsigned order said.

Two progressive groups, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, had filed suit against Scott. They sought to block his nominations; he’s said he would have picked conservative jurists.

Scott

The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court: Pariente, Lewis, and Quince are regarded as the liberal-leaning contingent; Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga is often a swing vote.

The court’s ruling suggested they bought into the group’s argument that Scott shouldn’t be able to replace the outgoing justices because their terms don’t end till the last minute of Jan. 7, his last day in office, but the new governor will be sworn in earlier that morning.

Its order was contingent on the fact that the three justices “do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, 2019, and provided that the (next) governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term.”

“The people will have a very important say in this matter, especially because both candidates have staked out very different positions on the kinds of people they are looking to appoint to the court,” said John Mills, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement.

“Andrew Gillum has said he will ‘appoint diverse, qualified judges who represent the breadth and depth of people in this state,’ ” he added. “Ron DeSantis has said he will ‘appoint constitutional conservatives’ who will be very different from the retiring justices, who he characterizes as ‘liberal’ and accuses of ‘legislating from the bench for the past 20 years.’ Voters now have the opportunity to factor these positions into their choice for governor.”

Further, the court found that Scott “exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (‘the JNC’) to submit its nominations to fill these vacancies” by Nov. 10.

That panel was planning on interviewing all 59 applicants for the three vacancies on Nov. 3 and 4 in Miami, and Nov. 8 and 9 in Tampa. (One of those applicants, Jeff Burns, later on Monday sued to disqualify Pariente, Lewis and Quince from the case for an “objective economic conflict of interest.”)

The 60-day period “after nominations have been certified within which the governor is required to make appointments, as set forth in … the Florida Constitution begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office,” the court said. “As the JNC is an independent body, it is not bound by Gov. Scott’s deadlines.”

The court also set oral argument for Nov. 8 on “the issue of when the JNC can certify its nominations.”

In recent weeks, Scott tried to defuse the litigation by offering to confer with his successor on candidates, taking a page from the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, who reached a similar accord with incoming Republican Jeb Bush in 1998. Quince is the last justice appointed through such consultations.

Geoff Burgan, then the campaign communications director for Gillum, spurned the offer, saying: “In our understanding of the Constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.”

In a statement later Monday, Gillum said he was “pleased the … Court has brought closure to this important issue, finding — as we have consistently stated — that the next Governor of Florida will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.

“It is a duty I take extremely seriously and, as Governor, one of my top priorities will be to restore integrity to the judicial nominating process,” he added.

DeSantis tweeted: “If (Gillum) is elected, out-of-state, radical groups would pressure him to appoint activist judges who would legislate from the bench to fit their own ideology. The consequences would be dangerous and felt for generations.

“I promise to only appoint judges who will uphold the Constitution and follow the law as it is written. We must secure Florida’s future.”

Scott, a Naples Republican who is term-limited as Governor, now is running to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, first elected in 2000.

The present suit had been first filed last year but the court said it couldn’t step into the controversy then because the Governor hadn’t taken any action yet.

In that decision, Labarga joined with the court’s conservatives. Pariente and Quince concurred, but Lewis dissented and called Scott’s proposed actions “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The court’s Monday decision also means the court could be short on justices for a while: The nominating and appointment process can take as long as four months, including background screening and reviews of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary records.

And the court itself tweaked its own rules last year regarding how and when retired justices can serve as “senior justices.”

A controversy erupted when then-Chief Justice Labarga allowed retired Justice James E.C. Perry to finish work on opinions, following decades of court practice. This was after Lawson, a Scott appointee, replaced Perry.

Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran prepared a legal challenge to Perry’s continued work, saying among other things that Perry was an unconstitutional “eighth justice” on the seven-member court.

Interviews scheduled for state Supreme Court vacancies

A review panel announced Friday it had decided to interview all 59 applicants for three upcoming Florida Supreme Court vacancies.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will meet Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in Miami, and again Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Tampa.

“This schedule will position the Florida Supreme Court JNC to certify nominations at the earliest on Nov. 10 or sometime thereafter to give the Governor and Governor-elect ample time to do their vetting and minimize the time that these three judicial vacancies remain unfilled,” a press release said. 

The South Florida interviews will take place at the Miami International Airport Hotel; the Tampa interviews will be held at the Airport Executive Center. 

Each interview will last about a half hour. The schedule for individual candidates is here

Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince face mandatory retirement on the same day that term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, leaves office. He is now running against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court: Pariente, Lewis, and Quince are regarded as the liberal-leaning contingent; Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga is often a swing vote.

Progressive groups have renewed a lawsuit against Scott, however, saying the outgoing governor doesn’t have the authority to appoint three new justices.

Scott has said he would agree to confer with the next governor-elect on the three justices. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic nominee; Ponte Vedra Beach congressman Ron DeSantis is the GOP nominee.

Quince was the last justice to be appointed that way in 1998, and was the consensus candidate of then Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, a Republican.

A Gillum spokesman has all but spurned the idea, saying that “in our understanding of the constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.”

Scott said he will announce the new justices on Jan. 7, his last day in office, which coincides with the outgoing justices’ retirement date.

Bring out your debris: Leon County takes trash for free

As Leon County residents continue to clean up after Hurricane Michael, Leon County has extended the free-of-charge period for both its Solid Waste Management Facility and Rural Waste Service Centers.

Those facilities will be open normal hours starting Saturday, and remain free of charge until Sunday, October 21.

The Solid Waste Management Facility (at 7550 Apalachee Parkway) will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Rural Waste Service Centers will be open Fridays (but closed Oct. 12) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations: Woodville, 549 Henry Jones Road; Fort Braden, 2485 East Joe Thomas Road; Miccosukee, 13051 Miccosukee Road.

For more information, click here or call Leon County Solid Waste Management at (850) 606-1800 during normal business hours.

During disaster recovery, call the Citizens Information Line at (850) 606-3700. For emergency information, click here.

Rick Scott on Hurricane Michael: ‘Devastating storm…going to be historic’

Hurricane Michael, now a category 2 storm, is going to be “devastating” for north Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

“It’s going to be historic,” he said at an 8 a.m. press briefing, mentioning that the first effects will begin in about 12 hours.

The “massive storm … could bring devastation” to the Florida Panhandle, with 110 mph winds expected in coastal communities, and 75 mph winds in Tallahassee.

It’s on track to be the “most destructive storm” to rake the Panhandle and Big Bend region in years, he added.

Its effects aren’t limited to north Florida, Scott said: With the storm pushing huge amounts of water through the Gulf, even the Tampa Bay area could see “life threatening storm surge.”

And north Florida will get the brunt: 8 to 12 feet of storm surge, which “easily could go over the roofs of houses,” Scott said.

For those in Michael’s path, Scott had a singular message: Get out. Now.

“We can rebuild your house,” he said. “We can’t replace your life.”

After the storm, all eyes will be on power restoration. After Hurricane Hermine, which hit Tallahassee two years ago, the city utility declined outside offers of help because of coordination and safety concerns.

That’s become a campaign issue of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Governor. The mayor and others have denied that he had anything to do with turning away assistance.

On Tuesday, Scott said he had already called utilities in and out of the state to ensure everyone is “talking to each other.”

State officials “will do whatever it takes” to protect tourists and residents, Scott said. “Floridians take care of each other … this storm can kill you … but there are so many people ready to help you.”

After the briefing, the governor spoke with workers inside the EOC command center: “I hope and pray it’s not as bad as the weather says it will be.”

Florida Supreme Court openings get dozens of applications

Despite a looming legal challenge, nearly 60 people have applied for three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, including Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s former chief of staff.

Carlos Muniz, now the general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education, was on a list of names provided to Florida Politics by Gov. Rick Scott‘s office on Monday evening after a public record request.

Also on the list is Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laurel Lee, wife of state Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican. She was appointed by Scott in May 2013, and many of the other judges who applied are Scott appointees.

Polk Circuit Judge John Stargel, a former Republican state Representative, also has applied. He’s the husband of state Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican.

Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince face mandatory retirement on the same day that the term-limited Scott, a Naples Republican, leaves office. He is now running against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court: Pariente, Lewis, and Quince are regarded as the liberal-leaning contingent; Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga is often a swing vote.

Progressive groups have renewed a lawsuit against Scott, however, saying the outgoing governor doesn’t have the authority to appoint three new justices.

Daniel Nordby, Scott’s general counsel, said in an email he had received the applications, due 5 p.m. Monday, from the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).

The applications themselves were unavailable because the governor’s legal office still must redact them for confidential information, he said.

“As a result of the hurricane and some email bounce-backs, it is possible that the final list may include an additional name or two,” he said. “At least one of the three appointees must be a resident of the 3rd Appellate District (Miami-Dade and Monroe counties), so those applicants are listed separately.”

The other two seats are at-large. The JNC next must decide which applicants to interview.

Under the state constitution, judges and justices face mandatory retirement at age 70. In Florida, judicial vacancies are filled by appointment by the Governor, from a list of applicants vetted and submitted by judicial nominating panels.

Scott has said he would agree to confer with the next governor-elect on the three justices. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic nominee; Ponte Vedra Beach congressman Ron DeSantis is the GOP nominee.

Quince was the last justice to be appointed that way in 1998, and was the consensus candidate of then Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, a Republican.

A Gillum spokesman has all but spurned the idea, saying that “in our understanding of the constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.”

Scott said he will announce the new justices on Jan. 7, his last day in office, which coincides with their retirement date.

Scott’s insistence on replacing the three spurred a legal challenge last year by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, who revived their suit last month. The progressive organization’s implied concern was that Scott would pack the court with more conservatives.

In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court said in December that it couldn’t step into the controversy because the Governor hadn’t taken any action yet.

The lone dissenter? Lewis, who said Scott’s plan to make the appointments on his way out the door was “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The full list of applicants and their current positions is below.

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Residents of 3rd Appellate District

Judge Alex Bokor (Miami-Dade County)

Amy Brigham Boulris (Gunster Law Firm)

John Couriel (Kobre & Kim)

Edward Guedes (Weiss Serota Cole & Bierman)

Judge Barbara Lagoa (3rd District Court of Appeal [DCA])

Judge Norma Lindsey (3rd DCA)

Judge Robert Luck (3rd DCA)

Hayden O’Byrne (K&L Gates)

Judge Ed Scales (3rd DCA)

Judge William Thomas (11th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Daryl Trawick (11th Judicial Circuit)

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Non-residents of 3rd Appellate District

Judge Michael Andrews (6th Judicial Circuit)

Judge J. Andrew Atkinson (2nd DCA)

Judge Ross Bilbrey (1st DCA)

Judge-Elect Jeffrey Burns (Anchors Smith Grimsley/1st Judicial Circuit)

Judge Hunter Carroll (12th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Howard Coates (15th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Angela Cowden (10th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Cynthia Cox (19th Judicial Circuit)

Judge James Daniel (4th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Scott Duncan (1st Judicial Circuit)

Manuel Farach (McGlinchey Stafford)

Judge Jonathan Gerber (4th DCA)

Bryan Gowdy (Creed & Gowdy)

Judge Jamie Grosshans (5th DCA)

Judge Bradley Harper (Palm Beach County)

Judge Terrance Ketchel (1st Judicial Circuit)

Judge Mark Klingensmith (4th DCA)

Judge Jeffrey Kuntz (4th DCA)

Judge Bruce Kyle (20th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Laurel Lee (13th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Robert Long (2nd Judicial Circuit)

Judge Scott Makar (1st DCA)

Judge Mark Mahon (4th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Michael McDaniel (10th Judicial Circuit)

Mark Miller (Pacific Legal Foundation)

Carlos Muniz (U.S. Department of Education)

Judge Timothy Osterhaus (1st DCA)

Judge Tom Ramsberger (6th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Eric Roberson (4th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Clay Roberts (1st DCA)

Judge William Roby (19th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Cymonie Rowe (15th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Samuel Salario (2nd DCA)

Judge Tatiana Salvador (4th Judicial Circuit)

Leonard Samuels (Berger Singerman)

Stephen Senn (Peterson & Myers)

Judge Raag Singhal (17th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Pat Siracusa (6th Judicial Circuit)

Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom (2nd Judicial Circuit)

Judge Elijah Smiley (14th Judicial Circuit)

Donna Solomon (Solomon Appeals, Mediation, & Arbitration)

Judge Adrian Soud (4th Judicial Circuit)

Judge John Stargel (10th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Anthony Tatti (5th Judicial Circuit)

Matthew Thatcher (The Solomon Law Group)

Judge M. Kemmerly Thomas (1st DCA)

Judge Waddell Wallace (4th Judicial Circuit)

Judge Bo Winokur (1st DCA)

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Capital correspondent Michael Moline and The News Service of Florida contributed to this post, republished with permission.

Florida Southern College poll: ‘Narrow lead’ for Andrew Gillum

A new poll shows “a narrow lead” for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum over his Republican counterpart, Ron DeSantis.

But the poll, by the Florida Southern College Center for Polling and Policy Research, has a roughly 4½-point margin of error, and Gillum’s lead is just over 3 points.

Gillum received just over 47 percent support, compared to DeSantis’ nearly 44 percent.

“While our results show a small degree of separation between the candidates, this race is still up for grabs,” said Zachary Baumann, a professor of political science at the school and the center’s director.

Among other takeaways from the poll on the Governor’s race:

— “Independents are breaking toward Gillum 46 to 33 percent in this sample.”

— “Our survey indicates a healthy gender gap between the two candidates with Gillum polling 15 points ahead of DeSantis among women.”

— “Interestingly, we see evidence that Gillum is attracting a younger base of support, with over half of respondents aged 18 to 29 and 30 to 44 indicating they plan on voting for the candidate. DeSantis holds a substantial lead among those age 45 to 64 and a smaller advantage among those 64 years old and older.”

In other contests, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is locked in a virtual tie with GOP Gov. Rick Scott in the U.S. Senate race; Scott has a 1½-point lead over Nelson.

“While polls released over the past several weeks have shown Nelson to have a slight lead in this race, ours is showing Scott making headway and gaining a marginal advantage,” Baumann said.

And “President (DonaldTrump continues to be influential in how voters evaluate candidates,” he said.

“When asked how influential the President will be to their choice of candidate, 54 percent of all respondents indicate he will be extremely or very important. When asked to evaluate his performance in office, a statistical tie emerges with 48 percent strongly or somewhat approving of his job in office and 48 percent strongly or somewhat disapproving.”

The poll is below. It was conducted during the evenings of Oct. 1-5 and got responses from 476 likely voters.

A half-billion dollar payday: Motorola wins final OK for state radio contract

The Department of Management Services (DMS) will enter into final negotiations with Motorola Solutions to take over the state’s law enforcement communications network, the company announced Monday.

DMS Secretary Erin Rock issued a final order, accepting a recommendation by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper to dismiss a protest by Harris Corp., which previously had the contract.

The order was not posted Monday morning; a public record request is pending with the agency.

It remains to be seen whether Rock’s decision, for a deal “valued at over half a billion dollars,” will be further challenged by Harris in the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Moreover, the decision almost certainly will need legislative review and approval.

The new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) buildout is scheduled to begin in 2020, the company said in a press release.

The system is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state,” according to the DMS website.

“Motorola Solutions is proud to have been selected by the DMS to build Florida’s new mission-critical radio communications system,” said Robert Marshall, Motorola Solutions sales vice president, in a statement.

Melbourne-based Harris Corp. had challenged the award to Motorola this March. It held the contract for SLERS since September 2000.

At a hearing in May, Harris had raised the issue of radio towers and how their quantity and quality of service is paramount to officer and public safety.

But Motorola’s legal counsel said his client’s superiority in communications technology essentially means the company can do more with less.

The system is funded through a $1 fee tacked on to vehicle registrations.

Former DCF Secretary Mike Carroll appointed to state public safety panel

Mike Carroll, who stepped down last month as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, has been named to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s office announced the appointment on Friday. Carroll, 57, now is Executive Vice President of Lutheran Services of Florida.

Carroll is actually returning to the panel; he had served on it in his role as DCF Secretary, a press release explained.

The commission was created as part of legislation passed after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Broward County, in which a former student of the school killed 17 students and staff members.

Carroll’s tenure as DCF Secretary — Scott appointed him in December 2014 — was the longest in the department’s 21-year history.

He worked at DCF and its predecessor, the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), since January 1990. He was replaced by Rebecca Kapusta, now the interim secretary.

Carroll oversaw “expanded substance abuse treatment services statewide, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders; achieved record numbers of adoptions; (and) championed anti-human trafficking efforts,” among other achievements, according to a statement from Scott’s office when Carroll announced his resignation in August.

On the other hand, a 133-page internal review commissioned by Carroll in 2016 depicted the agency he led as dysfunctional, with workers feeling “unsupported,” “overwhelmed,” and “defeated.”

Judge tosses Miami Herald suit over FIU bridge records

Reversing a state court ruling, a federal judge in Tallahassee on Friday threw out a lawsuit by The Miami Herald seeking records related to a deadly bridge collapse at Florida International University.

In a 47-page ruling, Senior U.S. District Judge William Stafford dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning the newspaper can’t re-file it.

The federal government had the case transferred after Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll in August ordered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to release any records related to the March 15 collapse. The Herald, Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas and Tallahassee reporter Elizabeth Koh sued in state court to obtain the documents under Florida’s public records law.

The newspaper requested a wide range of documents related to the 950-ton, 174-foot span, which collapsed days after being positioned across an eight-lane road in Miami, killing six people and injuring others.

State transportation officials, however, soon said they could not comply with the newspaper’s request because of a federal rule on accident investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB backed up state officials’ position, saying the requested documents, which ranged from Feb. 20 to March 17, fell within the scope of a regulation prohibiting the release of information “obtained during an investigation.”

Siding with the Herald, Carroll found the documents in dispute “were public records” that “were obtained prior to the existence of an investigation … before the state began participating in said investigation.”

But Stafford, among other findings, wrote that Carroll “lacked jurisdiction to order the FDOT to produce documents that the NTSB, exercising its valid federal regulatory authority, directed FDOT not to produce.”

He went on to note that Andrew Grogan, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in a hearing “that the NTSB does not contend that the records sought are not public records … , only that they are not (able to be released) at this time.”

Grogan previously acknowledged that “both the plaintiffs and the public have a legitimate interest in learning what happened in the lead-up to the bridge collapse.”

But, he added, “it is also in the public’s interest to preserve the integrity of the investigation so that NTSB can fulfill its mission of determining the probable cause of the accident and making recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.”

Requests for comment on the ruling have been sent to FDOT and Holland & Knight’s Scott Ponce, attorney for The Herald.

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Background provided by The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

Personnel note: Jeremiah Hawkes now state Senate’s top lawyer

Jeremiah Hawkes, formerly a top official under Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, is now general counsel of the Florida Senate, its spokeswoman said Friday.

Hawkes, who started Monday, will be paid $135,000 a year. He replaces Dawn Roberts, who served as the Senate’s top lawyer under outgoing Senate President Joe Negron.

Roberts is returning to her previous job as staff director of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, spokeswoman Katie Betta said.

Hawkes, who unsuccessfully ran for a Pasco County judgeship this year, was asked to take the position by Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, Betta said. Hawkes also has previously applied for judicial appointments.

The 41-year-old is the son of Tallahassee lobbyist Paul Hawkes, a former 1st District Court of Appeal judge.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the younger Hawkes was commander of the Management Services bureau under Nocco, overseeing budgeting, finance, and legal operations.

“He joined the department in 2009 under then-Sheriff Bob White as part of a post-election shake-up among the sheriff’s top aides that also saw (outgoing) House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Nocco come to the agency,” the Times reported.

“All three had worked under (U.S. Sen.) Marco Rubio during his tenure as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, with Hawkes serving as the House’s general counsel.”

In other moves in the general counsel’s office, Christie Letarte moves to “special counsel to the President” from deputy general counsel, and Ashley Istler replaces Letarte as deputy general counsel. Istler was the attorney for the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

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