After Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet confirmed Rick Swearingen as the new commissioner of FDLE Tuesday, Scott repeatedly insisted to reporters that former commissioner Gerald Bailey resigned.
Bailey immediately said Scott's statement was a lie.
"He resigned," Scott told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. "Commissioner Bailey did a great job." Pressed for an explanation for Bailey's removal, the governor said: "I'll say it again. Commissioner Bailey did a great job."
"I did not voluntarily do anything," Bailey told the Times/Herald when told of Scott's comments. "If he said I resigned voluntarily, that is a lie. If he said that, he's being totally untruthful."
Scott's chief of staff and general counsel orchestrated Bailey's immediate departure from FDLE on Dec. 16. General counsel Pete Antonacci went to FDLE headquarters and delivered the message: "Retire or resign," Bailey said Tuesday. "Pete Antonacci said he had the concurrence of (Jeff) atwater, (Adam) Putnam and (Pam) Bondi," the three elected Cabinet members.
By law, the commissioner of FDLE is hired by all four statewide elected officials.
Bailey spent more than three decades at FDLE, and was commissioner for the past eight years. Scott and Cabinet members spoke in glowing terms about his performance, and while campaigning for re-election, Scott repeatedly cited figures that violent crime in Florida was at a 43-year low.