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Iraq war vet sues Gov. Scott over losing state job

A decorated combat veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a registered Republican -- sued Gov. Rick Scott and the state Wednesday, claiming the administration used his overseas deployment to eliminate his job in violation of state law.

The suit was filed by Walter Kreitlow, who works as an agent in the Department of Business & Professional Regulation's division of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. He earns about $50,000 a year.

DBPR declined to respond directly to the lawsuit's allegations. The agency produced documents showing that Kreitlow accepted a job demotion and a 7.5 percent pay cut in 2011 as well as a five-page letter DBPR sent to the U.S. Department of Labor in July in which the agency denied or refuted every one of Kreitlow's job-related complaints.

For example, the letter said, Kreitlow claimed he was reprimanded for putting a dry erase board in his cubicle. "This is a potential safety hazard," DBPR's response said. "Neither (Chief) Connors not (Lt.) Campbell reprimanded Mr. Kreitlow; he was merely asked to remove it ... It is requested that Mr. Kreitlow's continued mischaracterizations in his complaints be noted."

About two weeks later, on July 25, the Department of Labor told DBPR that "we are closing our file in this matter."

A long-time member of the U.S. Army reserve, Kreitlow said that he was at training in Kentucky in October 2011 when he learned that his state job had been eliminated by a law enforcement consolidation task force. His lawsuit says he was offered a vacant job in Miami or could accept a demotion in the Tallahassee district office. He claims his use of a state car was revoked and he was given a five-by-nine foot storage closet, and that his American flag that had flown over a battlefield in Iraq was removed by DBPR higher-ups.

"This is not political," Kreitlow said. "This is for the citizen soldiers out there who are taken advantage of. They miss out on promotions. They are not given days off."

Kreitlow, 45,is married and has two children and lives in Tallahassee. He said he voted for Scott in 2010 and as a state law enforcement officer served on the security detail during Scott's inaugural celebration.

The governor's office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. Scott, a U.S. Navy veteran, has frequently publicly honored the service of Florida veterans, and has personally handed out thousands of veterans' service medals in his campaign for re-election.