Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will be moving quickly to fill 169 vacancies at agencies and commissions throughout the state – vacancies he created last week when he rescinded former Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees.
It’s the second time in two months that DeSantis asked Scott appointees to resign. In January, he rescinded 45 Scott appointments to boards and commissions. Scott made a series of last-minute appointments before he left office to go to the U.S. Senate (the story was first reported by Florida Politics this weekend).
“I think it’s important for us to take a fresh look at all this and make sure that we have folks who are going to work hard to put stuff in the right direction,” DeSantis said at a press conference Tuesday outside his office at the Capitol. “We’ve told everyone: If you want to reapply, you’re welcome to do it, but this gives more Floridians an opportunity to be able to participate in some of these things, and so it’s good.”
The idea of an incoming governor rescinding the political appointments of the former administration is hardly new. Former Gov. Charlie Crist rescinded 283 of Jeb Bush’s appointments in 2007, and Scott rescinded at least 154 of Crist’s appointments in 2011, according to the Miami Herald.
DeSantis acknowledged that there’s some confusion about whether water management district board members he asked to step down are still allowed to function as board members until successors are named.
“Different people say different things about it,” he said. “Some say that when you’ve been put in, but not confirmed by the Senate, if the governor pulls you back, you still are there until somebody new gets appointed. Others say, ‘you’re off.’ For us, we’re going to work quickly to put people in these positions. So I think at the end of the day, it’s not going to matter much either way.”
DeSantis asked all nine members of the South Florida Water Management District to step down last month. He has appointed six new members, and said today he will make at least two more selections by the end of the week.
DeSantis is also calling on two members of the Florida Commission on Ethics to step aside, but the executive director of that agency told the Tallahassee Democrat that she’s uncertain if the governor has the authority to do so on his own.
“We have met with staff this morning and are trying to figure it out,” executive director Virlindia Doss told the newspaper on Monday.