Gov. Rick Scott’s firing of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement last year wasn’t just a political bungle. The way it was carried out violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the state’s open meeting laws.
If anything good came out of it, though, it’s that the governor and his Cabinet now will be forced to operate in the Sunshine.
The executive branch officers Monday agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Florida Society of News Editors, The Associated Press and other media organizations (including GateHouse Media, the parent company of The News-Journal) in the fallout from Bailey’s firing last December. A month later Bailey revealed he had not, per the governor’s initial assertion, quit voluntarily after eight years as FDLE head. He said he was pressured by the governor to resign after he refused requests by Scott and his staff to falsely name someone a target in a criminal case, hire political allies for state jobs and intercede in an outside investigation of a prospective Scott appointee. Scott has denied that accusation, although he eventually acknowledged he asked for Bailey’s resignation.
That revelation came as news to the Cabinet members — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — who said they were unaware, or worse, misinformed, of the circumstances behind Bailey’s departure when they approved his successor in January.
That led to a lot of backfilling and spinning, until eventually it emerged that the ordeal had been messily orchestrated behind the scenes by the governor’s staff and aides for other Cabinet members. That’s what triggered the media lawsuit.
Orignal article here.