So Gov. Rick Scott, or rather his office, has responded to inquiries about his Dec. 16 ouster of Gerald Bailey from his job as Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the allegations that were subsequently made by Bailey.
But hold on. Upon further review, the two-page “FDLE FAQs” that Scott released on Thursday, falls far short of filling in the blanks.
The release, which is organized in a Q & A format, lists 10 questions followed by bullet points.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Q: Is it true that Gerald Bailey was forced to resign?
-- Prior to December 16, 2015 (sic), the Governor’s staff notified cabinet staff (including the offices of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Commissioner of Agriculture) that the Governor wanted new leadership at FDLE. Cabinet staff raised no objection.
-- On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, cabinet staff were notified that Gerald Bailey would be met with that day about the Governor’s desire for new leadership at FDLE. Peter Antonacci, then general counsel, met with Bailey and said the Governor wanted new leadership at FDLE and requested his resignation.
-- Bailey sent a letter to the Governor saying he was “stepping down” that same day, December 16th.
(Ok, where shall we begin? Let’s start with the obvious: None of the three bullet points directly answer the above question. The first bullet point implies in broad language [“the Governor wanted new leadership at FDLE”] that yes, Bailey was forced out. The second bullet point actually acknowledges that Scott’s general counsel, Antonacci, told Bailey that “the Governor wanted new leadership.” That’s at least more than what Scott initially told reporters on Jan. 13 when first asked if he forced Bailey out. A day later, asked again if he forced Bailey to resign, Scott replied: "In business, you often make changes because it's the right thing for that organization," he said in Tampa on Jan. 14. Nevermind that he’s the head of a government, not a business, but that doesn’t directly answer the question either. Was he forced out? Yes, but Scott still can’t say it. Also notable here, Scott isn’t disclosing names. Why? The “governor’s staff notified Cabinet staff...Cabinet staff raised no objection.” Who is “Cabinet staff”? "Governor’s staff?" Can we get a couple of names? Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has provided names. He has told the Times/Herald that Scott’s Cabinet affairs aide, Monica Russell, relayed to Putnam’s Cabinet aide, Brooke McKnight, that Scott wanted to make staff changes in his second term, including at FDLE. But Putnam said he wasn’t given any more details, making it hard to figure just exactly what Scott was doing. "We were given a heads-up on a staff level that there was an interest in making changes going into the second term, including at FDLE. Period," Putnam told the Times/Herald last week. "That's all that was conveyed to me.” So the governor’s office doesn’t advance anything here. It mainly repeats established facts that no one is disputing [Antonacci met with Bailey, Bailey sent a letter to the Governor saying he was stepping down.] The public still has no clue from Scott if he forced Bailey out and, more importantly, why, beyond a vague “Governor wanted new leadership.” Well, duh.)