Florida Politics

Who’s on Ron DeSantis’ team that will govern Florida?

As Gov. Rick Scott leaves his post, with him will go scores of agency heads and officials he appointed over his eight years in office. As Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis is sworn in Tuesday at noon, he’ll have a whole administration of offices and roles to fill with people of his own choosing.

Transition staff say the team has done all of the interviews for the positions in person — even those coming from out of state — and fills full schedules with 45-minute slots for each candidate.

While DeSantis had made quite a few key appointments before Inauguration Day on January 8th, there are still some that remain to be decided, like the Department of Transportation. Transition staff say other roles, like the Department of Health, are just harder to fill.

Here are some of the key hires the governor-elect has made so far:

Agency for Health Care Administration

Mary Mayhew, a senior Trump administration official overseeing the national Medicaid program, was picked by DeSantis to be secretary of the agency tasked with overseeing the Medicaid program, licensure and regulation of Florida’s health facilities.

Mayhew, who was just appointed by the president in October, is the third former Trump administration official to be picked for DeSantis’ team. Before her move to Washington, she was a top health official for Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who refused to implement a Medicaid expansion that voters approved there.

Department of Education

Former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a charter school advocate and supporter of voucher-like scholarships and other school-choice policies, was unanimously appointed to be education commissioner at the end of December by the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor.

Before DeSantis publicly recommended Corcoran, the outgoing speaker served as a top adviser to DeSantis during the transition.

Division of Emergency Management

Democratic lawmaker Jared Moskowitz, who was once one of DeSantis’ rivals, was picked to lead the state’s emergency response.

Moskowitz, a state representative from Broward County, has worked for AshBritt Environmental, the large Deerfield Beach-based company that specializes in disaster cleanups and is often contracted by the state. He’s currently AshBritt’s executive vice president and general counsel.

Veterans’ Affairs

State Rep. Danny Burgess, an attorney and captain in the Army Reserve, was picked to be DeSantis’ veterans’ affairs director.

The Pasco County Republican recently won a third term in the House, and will have to resign.

Department of Revenue

Democrat Jim Zingale was picked to lead the department that mainly oversees and administers law over general tax, property tax and child support.

Because the agency is overseen by the Cabinet, he was technically recommended by DeSantis to that body, which includes the new governor.

The longtime public official has made a career in state government since Lawton Chiles was governor, taking up multiple roles in the department, as well as serving in staff positions in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.

Florida Lottery

Jim Poppell, the current secretary of the Florida Lottery, was reappointed by DeSantis. He took office in 2017 after Secretary Tom Delacenserie resigned and took a job leading the Kentucky Lottery.

Poppell has also served as chief of staff at the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity and was an executive with NextEra Energy and Florida Power & Light.

Division of Economic Opportunity

Ken Lawson, who leads the state’s tourism marketing agency, was recommended by DeSantis to become the new jobs chief. After his appointment, which requires a confirmation from the Senate, Lawson will replace Cissy Proctor, who has run the Department of Economic Opportunity since December 2015.

Enterprise Florida

Jamal Sowell, the chief of staff at Port Tampa Bay, was recommended by DeSantis in December to lead Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that essentially functions as the state’s corporate recruitment arm.

Enterprise Florida’s board will have to approve Sowell as its president and chief executive officer. If approved, he will take over for interim president Mike Grissom, who was put into the role after Scott made then-president Pete Antonacci Broward County’s elections supervisor.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation

DeSantis appointed state Rep. Halsey Beshears to lead the agency in charge of licensing and regulating various businesses and professions, like real estate agents and veterinarians.

The Monticello Republican owns several businesses across North Florida, including a wholesale agriculture company and a commercial property management firm. Beshears was the second state lawmaker to be picked for an appointment, following that of Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz to the Department of Emergency Management. There will likely be a special election to fill both of those seats.

Department of Elder Affairs

Richard Prudom, who once served as the deputy secretary for the agency, was picked by DeSantis to lead the Department of Elder Affairs.

Before Prudom worked in the agency, he was the director of financial management and chief of staff to the Department of Corrections.

Department of Juvenile Justice

Simone Marstiller, a former judge, state agency head and lobbyist, was picked by DeSantis to lead the DJJ. She’s held several government roles, including assistant general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush, and deputy attorney general.

The department currently has an interim leader, since former secretary, Christina K. Daly, stepped down last summer after a career highlighted by some reforms but also the deaths of several youths in state custody. The Miami Herald’s “Fight Club” investigation in October 2017 revealed that DJJ staffers ignored beatings or offered snacks as bribes for beat-downs of youth detainees.

Department of Corrections

Mark Inch, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a retired two-star Army general, was picked by DeSantis to lead DOC just days before inauguration.

Inch, who is not from Florida, briefly served as chief of the federal Department of Justice’s prison arm. He was appointed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August 2017, then resigned unexpectedly in May 2018.

Secretary of State

DeSantis picked Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, Michael Ertel, to serve as the Secretary of State.

Ertel will replace Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was appointed to the role first by Bush in 2003 and then again by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012.

Department of Children and Families

Chad Poppell, a former secretary of the Department of Management Services, was picked by DeSantis to lead a troubled agency that has struggled to keep its leaders in recent years.

Poppell led DMS, which supports other agencies with workforce and business-related functions, until 2017 and previously served as chief of staff in the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity. After he resigned from DMS he joined IBM and registered to lobby the executive branch in 2017 and 2018 for the company. IBM has gotten several contracts with DCF in the past few years, largely for database management system software, according to a state database of contracts with agencies.

Agency for Persons with Disabilities

DeSantis reappointed the agency’s director, Barbara Palmer, who was first appointed by Scott in 2012. Before she was director, she was the agency’s chief of staff.

The agency, which was split off from the Department of Children and Families in 2004, works with local communities and private providers to assist people who have developmental disabilities.

Visit Florida

Former state Sen. Dana Young was recommended by DeSantis to be selected as the next CEO of Visit Florida, a public-private partnership that essentially functions as the state’s tourism arm.

The Tampa Republican served as a state representative until 2016, when she was elected to the Senate. She eventually lost her hotly contested race for re-election against Democrat Janet Cruz in a manual recount.

The cabinet members have jobs to fill, too. Attorney General-elect Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nicole “Nikki” Fried have all filled their senior staff rosters, but have not yet announced specific appointments for divisions within their respective offices.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reporter Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this report.

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