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Whistleblower alleges agency circumvented rules to hire MacNamara's choice


(Update below) Leaders at the state's Department of Elder Affairs circumvented hiring procedures and appointed an attorney with a criminal history at the urging of Gov. Rick Scott's then-chief of staff, according to a whistleblower lawsuit filed in Leon County court.

Attorney Donald Bell was hired for the $98,000-a-year top-level post despite a drug conviction and two arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, the lawsuit alleges. He was recommended by former Scott chief of staff Steve MacNamara, emails show.

The lawsuit, filed by former human resources employee Frances Brooks, says Elder Affairs secretary Charles Corley passed over other applicants and allowed Bell to skip key background screenings, shielding his record from other employees while bypassing safeguards to protect elderly people served by the agency. More here. 

Update: Department of Elder Affairs’ Communications Director Ashley Marshall released the follow statement in response to the article:

 The facts presented in Tampa Bay Times are inaccurate. Donald Bell was not allowed to “skip background screenings” when hired at the Department of Elder Affairs. In accordance with Florida Statutes and Department policy, a Level II Background Screening was conducted on January 6, 2012. Because of his position in executive management at the Department, a second more extensive background investigation began on January 13, 2012. It is common practice for employees to begin work while background results are still pending. During the hiring process, Bell was forthcoming to Department leadership about his history. With his pardon, the offenses in his record do not prohibit him from employment.


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Worst part is, it's not better now at the Governor's Office.

Toluse Olorunnipa

Agreed. People thought Hollingsworth would come in and right the ship, but it turns out he's either inept or equally corrupt.



The Chief of Staff position is as useful as the LG position. The legislature should consider eliminating it and doing ad much for accountability up to now. We only need one Governor whose elected, unlike the CoS who is like a dictatorship.


Bell was allowed to skip the requirement to have a current State of Florida Employment Application which requires disclosure of offenses and was allowed to skip the required review by Elder Affairs Legal Office of the results of an inquiry to the Clerk of the Courts Comprehensive Case Information System. Why was he allowed to skip these required steps in the background screening process that all other employees have to complete? Oh that's right...he is MacNamara's bff! Get it right Ashley Marshall.

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