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Crist announces Browning and Agwunobi as agency heads

Gov.-elect Charlie Crist announced today that Pasco Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning will be his secretary of state and that Andrew Agwunobi, the brother of Bush appointee John Agwunobi, will head the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Agwunobi, the younger brother of John who looks like a twin, was formerly head of Atlanta's massive public hospital system, Grady Hospital and most recently was chief operating officer of St. Joseph Health system, a 14-hospital Catholic health-care system with hospitals in California, Texas and New Mexico. He is a physician who also holds a Stanford MBA. As a sign this was coming, Agwunobi recently resigned from the board of directors of Tampa-based HMO WellCare Health Plans.

"He will use his experience as an administrator and compassion as a physician to champion accessiblity of health care for the people of Florida,'' Crist said.

John Agwunobi was secretary of the Department of Health under outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush as the state drew national attention during the anthrax scare of 2001. He is now serving as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Both brothers graduated from the University of Jos in Jos, Nigeria.

Browning, who has been elections supervisor in Pasco County for 25 years and is considered one of the most respected experts in the state, vowed to consider requiring election machines to have a paper trail and make Florida's elections system "the model for the rest of the nation.''

Browning was asked about the disputed District 13 Congressional race in Sarasota County. "Everything was tested out approrpriately,'' he said. "Recounts came out accurately.'' But, he noted, that Sarasota County has voted to require a paper record starting in 2008.

"We need to be open about all technology that's out there,'' he said. "I believe that voters need to have a high level of confidence in their voting systems. If voters don't have confidence in their voting systems, then there's very little to have confidence in. And so if it means whether it's paper trail, whether it's some other method of voter verification, that's something that I will look at as secretary.''

Crist said Browning has "displayed exemplary ethics in his role as supervisor of election in Pasco County'' and "his expertise will be a great advantage for our state and the integrity of our elections, which are very important to us.''

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