Brenda Snipes received about the closest thing to an apology she’s likely to get from Florida’s governor, when Ron DeSantis on Friday rescinded his predecessor’s suspension of the former Broward County elections supervisor.
But that doesn’t mean she’s getting her job back.
In an executive order, DeSantis voided a Nov. 30 directive issued by former Gov. Rick Scott removing Snipes from office. DeSantis said he was instead accepting the Jan. 4 resignation that Snipes had submitted on the final day of a controversial midterm election recount, granting her the soft exit she’d wanted (albeit without the quiet goodbye).
The move, made on the same day that DeSantis announced he was suspending Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, was not made in deference to Snipes. DeSantis has been highly critical of Broward’s veteran elected supervisor, and went out of his way during his inauguration speech to criticize the mistakes that characterized her final days in office.
Rather, it was a legal calculation intended to render moot a lawsuit that Snipes filed contesting her ouster. Last week, a federal judge in Tallahassee ruled that Snipes was wronged by Scott because she was suspended from office in a way that left her unable to challenge his allegations of neglect and incompetence.
Judge Mark Walker didn’t give Snipes her job back, as she’d requested. But he did order DeSantis to give her a hearing — an order that DeSantis said is now moot.
“We’re going to move beyond this controversy. I think the important thing is not to throw mud about what happened in the past but let’s get on a better footing and make sure this doesn’t happen again in Broward County,” DeSantis said Friday. “It ends the ongoing litigation. It will save the taxpayers a lot of money.”
Following Walker’s ruling, Snipes’ attorneys worked with DeSantis’ legal team to agree on Friday’s order. Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, said it provides closure.
“The deal was that we would have the order that Gov. Scott put in place superseded by Gov. DeSantis’ order, which basically puts Dr. Snipes in the position she’d intended to be in before any of this had happened, with no suspension,” Norris-Weeks said. “This puts her right back in the same place. We’re pleased about it and ready to move on.”
DeSantis’ press office made clear Friday that though the governor’s order trumped Scott’s declaration of suspension, there was no intention of ousting Pete Antonacci, the man Scott tapped to replace Snipes and lead Broward’s elections office through the 2020 elections.
Reached by phone, Antonacci said he was busy preparing for the March 12 municipal elections in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Coral Springs and other cities. He said he circulated the different ballot designs to the various candidates, political parties and clerks last week, and sent the files to be printed. Some 200 overseas ballots need to be mailed out by Jan. 25.
“We’re doing great,” he said.