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Jesse Panuccio out as head of DEO

Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, is stepping down, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday morning.

Since being appointed to the post in 2013, Panuccio has led the department through controversy over technical problems with the online filing system for unemployment benefits and been one of Scott’s top advisers in jobs and economic development.

His last day will be Jan. 8, 2016.

According to a letter of resignation, he is leaving, “to begin a new chapter of my career and life.” The governor’s office released that Panuccio will “pursue new opportunities.”

The resignation comes just before the start of a new legislative session, when Panuccio will be up for confirmation in the Senate, a chamber that has been highly critical of him and which did not confirm him last year.

State Sen. Nancy Detert, chairwoman of the Commerce and Tourism Committee, said Panuccio was in “extreme danger” of not being confirmed by the Florida Senate in the spring. Punuccio would have needed confirmation from her committee and two others, including one run by Sen. Jack Latvala, another frequent critic of Panuccio's.

“I was not a supporter of his,” Detert said.

She said the governor's other appointments to other agencies, Department of Children and Families and the Department of Elder Affairs have mostly been good at communicating with state legislators.

“I never saw that from Jesse Panuccio,” Detert said. “He stonewalled us.

In October, Latvala took him to task in a committee hearing, a scene that was hardly unique.

“You know, I frankly don't like your attitude. I think there's an arrogance in the way you present this that's a sense of entitlement, and I just think it's wrong,” Latvala said. “We're here to serve the people.”

For his part, the governor has glowing things to say about Panuccio, who served as Scott’s general counsel before taking over DEO.

“Jesse has been a loyal and trusted advisor since the start of my administration and has worked on major issues including economic policy, dozens of judicial appointments, and significant litigation on behalf of Florida families,” Scott said in a statement.

A replacement will be announced “in the coming weeks,” according to the governor’s office.