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Andy Gardiner defends Senate record, Rick Scott appoints two more agency heads

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Rick Scott reappointed 16 state agency executives by late Monday, all of whom failed to be confirmed by the Florida Senate this spring.

Scott reappointed Jon Steverson as interim Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary and appointed Rick Swearingen as an interim Executive Director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Those agencies report to the Florida Cabinet which also must approve the appointment.

The Cabinet will meet tomorrow to act on those appointments. They will follow guidelines the Cabinet adopted in lieu of so-called “Baileygate,” the name given to the incident when FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey was fired.

The process of making a permanent appointment will also be governed by the Cabinet Governance Guidelines. These issues have been added to the agenda for the May 5, 2015 meeting of the Governor and Cabinet.

Scott had reappointed 14 other executive directors and agency secretaries earlier in the day but didn’t initially reappoint Steverson or Swearingen.

Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed 56 percent of the governor’s executive appointments during the 2015 session, a record that Senate President Andy Gardiner stands by. In a press release issued late Monday, Gardiner said that the Senate confirmation process “should be more than a simple rubber stamp” and that the confirmations have been heard by both substantive policy committees as well as the Committee on Ethics and Elections.

“Towards the end of session, I heard from many Senators who were not satisfied with some of the answers provided, or still had some outstanding questions for several agency heads,” Gardiner said. “The statutes allow for appointees to continue serving pending confirmation without impacting their authority to manage an agency. Therefore, I believe the Senate has time and should do its due diligence and thoroughly vet each appointee before confirmation.”

Under Senate rules, an executive appointment who has not been acted on by the Florida Senate can continue serving if reappointed until the following regular legislative session.

And 88 percent of those who weren’t confirmed were appointed after the Senate committees had already started their work.

“From a timing perspective, the later in session an appointment is made, the more difficult it is to complete the confirmation process during the first session of an appointment.”

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