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Scott makes first appointments to inner circle, most of them newcomers

Governor-elect Rick Scott today announced the first appointments to his new administration, tapping mostly newcomers to state government except for a former deputy general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush who will be his special counsel and legislative advisor.

To head his administrative team, Scott named Mike Prendergast a retired army colonel. His long-time policy advisor, Mary Anne Carter, will fill the newly-created role of chief adviser to the governor.

Scott appointed Hayden Dempsey, the former Bush aide, as special counsel to the governor who will also oversee Scott's legislative agenda. Dempsey is a lawyer and lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig and represented 13 clients before the legislature last year, including many health care concerns.

Jon Costello, a lobbyist from the law firm of Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell, P.A., will be Scott's legislative affairs director. Costello represented 18 clients last year before the legislature, including HCA, several health care companies and the City of Miami Beach. Gary Rutledge, head of the firm, is a long-time friend of Scott and was one of HCA's lobbyists when Scott headed the hospital chain. Brian Burgess, who worked on Scott's health care initiative and served on Scott's political campaign, will be his communications director.  

Scott said in a statement that the appointments mark “the end of business as usual in Florida’s Capitol.”

From the release:

As Chief of Staff, Mike brings to the Scott Administration an outstanding record of leadership and military service along with a resume replete with educational and professional accomplishment.  In making the announcement, the Governor-elect stated, “Mike Prendergast will operate as COO of the administration and direct the affairs of Florida government with precision and unwavering ethical rigor.  Moreover, Mike’s outsider status gives him the ability to evaluate and manage issues and agencies from a perspective untainted by the business as usual culture in Tallahassee.”  

Mary Anne Carter brings to the Scott Administration her broad public policy experience and record fighting for government reform.  As Chief Advisor to the Governor, Carter will report directly to Scott and oversee and implement his policy initiatives, legislative agenda, and external communications. She will have oversight over the Office of Policy and Budget.   “Mary Anne has stood side by side with me in challenging the status quo and the evils of big government.  I am confident she will bring the same energy, drive and desire for reform and accountability to Florida’s Capitol,” Scott said.  Carter will see the Scott agenda through the end of the first legislative session. 

In addition, Scott also announced today three members of his senior legislative and communications team.  Hayden Dempsey will serve as Special Counsel and will oversee Scott’s legislative agenda, Jon Costello will serve as Director of Legislative Affairs and will coordinate Scott’s legislative agenda, and Burgess will serve as Communications Director.

"This complimentary team was deliberately assembled to combine Mike's skills in managing high-stakes operations, Mary Anne's in-depth knowledge of my agenda and policies, with Hayden's and Jon's abilities to get those policies passed through the legislature," Scott said.  



Mike Prendergast is a native of Tampa and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1978.  Mike served in a variety of leadership positions as a Military Police Officer, Foreign Area Officer and Legislative Liaison Officer over the course of his 31 year Army career.  His tours of duty include assignments in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, Kansas, The Pentagon, Maryland, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, a Congressional Fellowship in the U.S. Senate, and overseas assignments in Zaire, Cameroon, Cuba, South Korea, the Middle East, and Europe.  Mike has deployed multiple times on combat operations to Iraq and Afghanistan, peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, humanitarian operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Cameroon, and Zaire.  His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, three Legion of Merit medals, the Bronze Star Medal, four Meritorious Service Medals, six Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, and multiple additional awards, badges, and citations presented for service and achievement.  Mike is a 2009 inductee into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Military Police Corps’ Order of the Marechaussee award in Silver acknowledging his significant impact on the Army’s Military Police Corps.  Mike’s extensive education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree with Special Honors and a dual major in Political Science and Sociology from Jacksonville State University, a Master of Arts degree with a major in International Relations and a Certificate in African Studies from the University of Florida, a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Public Management from Troy University, and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.  Mike and his wife, Naomi, have a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren.

Mary Anne Carter (known as “MAC”) is currently the Executive Director of the Scott Transition.  Prior to the campaign Carter served as Executive Director for Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.  CPR emerged as the leading voice speaking out against government run health care.  Carter has been in private business for the past decade running a consulting firm specializing in political research and public affairs.  She has served as the Director of US Senate Relations at the Heritage Foundation, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC as well as actively participated in several prominent campaigns.

Hayden Dempsey, currently a shareholder and the Director of Public Affairs at Greenberg Traurig, will join the Administration as Special Counsel to the Governor.  In this role, Dempsey will oversee and direct the passage and implementation of Scott’s legislative agenda.  Dempsey brings to the Administration a developed understanding and working knowledge of Florida’s state government and the legislative process.  While at Greenberg, Hayden has been recognized for his superior ability to navigate successfully through the many challenges presented by Florida legislative process.  Prior to joining Greenberg, Dempsey served as Legislative Affairs Director to Governor Jeb Bush, responsible for securing passage of the Governor's Legislative agenda and supervising the legislative affairs directors for the Governor's agencies.  He also served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Bush where he provided legal advice to the Governor, Lt. Governor and executive staff and represented the Governor in litigation.  “Hayden’s depth of knowledge of the legislative process and his political experience and insight will prove a valued asset to the new Administration,” said Scott.

Jonathan M. Costello has most recently served as policy advisor to the Rick Scott Gubernatorial campaign and as a Governmental Consultant with Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell, P.A.  Prior to entering the political arena, Mr. Costello served as an Acquisition Program Manager for the United States Air Force.  Mr. Costello possesses a bachelors and Master’s degree in political science from Florida State University, where he has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Political Communications.

Brian Burgess will mark two years of working closely with Governor-elect Scott in January 2011, including serving as Communications Director during Scott's general election campaign.  Burgess helped to launch Scott's health care initiative, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights while working as a senior account executive at CRC Public Relations in Alexandria, Virginia.  At CRC, Burgess worked with corporate and political clients, and the DC and national media to promote a variety of initiatives, including books and documentary films.  Prior to joining CRC, Burgess served for two years as Public Information Officer for District Attorney Phill Kline in Johnson County, Kansas. His previous political experience includes congressional and county-wide political campaigns.  He and his wife, Tammy, have two sons, ages nine and seven.  They are expecting a third around the time of their 18th wedding anniversary in March.