Changes afoot at Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity

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A series of personnel moves at the Florida Chapter of Americans for Prosperity will change the face of an organization increasingly active in state politics.

According to Slade O’Brien, the former state director for AFP-FL, he’s transitioning to a regional director role that will include oversight of Florida, the Southeast, Arizona, and New Hampshire.

AFP is the conservative/libertarian issue advocacy group originally founded in 2004 by billionaire political activist brothers Charles and David Koch. The group now boasts 2,000,000 activists nationwide.

O’Brien had been AFP’s Florida state director since 2011, following a nine-year stint as founder and managing partner of the strategic consulting firm Florida Strategies Group, based in Boca Raton.

During his time at the regional office, O’Brien had taken up the mantle for wide range of controversial issues. Over time he became high-profile voice for nearly 146,000 active statewide members, fighting big government on both the local and national level.

Not afraid of blasting legislators on both sides of the aisle, O’Brien skillfully targeted Democrats and even Republicans that AFP saw as not conservative enough for constituents. For example, a recent campaign was leveled at Republican state Sens. Nancy Detert, Charlie Dean and Greg Evers, complete with a barrage of YouTube videos, mailers, TV spots and social media. The advertising pushed the three GOP lawmakers as “failing” their conservative scorecards.

In a 2013 article for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, O’Brien criticized of the “crony capitalism” of Enroll America, a group tasked with boosting Obamacare signups. He also voiced stern warnings over the Florida Senate’s plan to increase the pool of available money Gov. Rick Scott uses to attract businesses to the state, which he calls “corporate welfare.”

“Giving out taxpayer funded incentives to companies that are coming to Florida or expanding their existing business is not a proven way to encourage jobs,” O’Brien told John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post last year.

Replacing O’Brien as statewide director is Chris Hudson, a political consultant based in Southwest Florida and closely aligned with former Speaker of the House Dean Cannon.

“I am grateful for Slade’s leadership and our entire network of activists for their tremendous work to advance policies of individual liberty and freedom,” said Hudson. “I am excited to lead this premier grassroots organization as we double down on our efforts to remind Florida’s elected officials of their obligation to protect the well-being of every Florida taxpayer.”

Abigail MacIver, who is currently director of policy and external affairs for AFP, has been elevated to deputy director.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.