Rick Scott makes several personnel, communication staff changes

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Gov. Rick Scott has made a number of personnel changes in advance of his re-election efforts, reports Steve Bousquet in the Tampa Bay Times

Brad Piepenbrink becomes the governor’s new director of external affairs, replacing one of his early administration members, the departing Carrie O’Rourke.

Piepenbrink, once Scott’s travel aide, will now earn $99,000 in his new role as deputy chief of staff for the state Department of Education. O’Rourke’s departure will be effective Feb. 7.

O’Rourke sent a one-paragraph resignation text to Scott’s office in December: “I have truly enjoyed my time working for Gov. Rick Scott over the past four years. It has been a pleasure to work under his leadership.”

O’Rourke was not always a Scott supporter.

She worked as campaign finance director for Bill McCollum, who lost the 2010 GOP primary to Scott. Scott’s campaign finance manager is O’Rourke’s sister Meredith.

Moving into Melissa Sellers old job as Communications Director is her former assistant, Frank Collins. Prior to coming to Florida, both Collins and Sellers, on the press team for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Collins, 29, held a number of roles under Jindal, such as campaign field director, transition press aide, assistant and chief press secretary before joining Sellers in Tallahassee.

Other changes in Scott’s election-year press personnel are deputy communications director Monica Russell, formerly the director of communications at the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Russell was a partner in Tallahassee-based North Public Relations, a firm. Russell will have more consistent contact with the Florida press than Collins.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.