- A DeSantis spokesman confirmed Friday afternoon that senior administration officials are expected to resign and reapply to their positions
- Citing “standard practice” for transitions, the governor’s office will likely accept some resignations and decline others
- But a new, six-year lobbying ban on Florida officials after December 31st provides some insight into the thinking behind Administration’s transition move
- Three leaders of the transition team for Gov. DeSantis’s second term were appointed this week
- The move gave credence to word circulating in Tallahassee ahead of election day that DeSantis planned to ask for resignations of top officials across the administration
- Two former chiefs of staff who previously served DeSantis will work with a prominent South Florida lawyer to chair the transition committee and advise on appointments
This story was updated 1:44pm to include new information from the Governor’s office.
One day before Tuesday’s election, rumors swirled around Tallahassee that Governor Ron DeSantis planned to ask top administration leaders across all state agencies within his control, including the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG), to resign from their positions. Some would be accepted, some would not.
The DeSantis Administration confirmed on Friday afternoon that they are moving forward with plans to move into a transition posture ahead of the popular governor’s second term, as opposed to continuing an uninterrupted, business-as-usual approach. The governor’s office emphasized that further details would be released after the administration’s “focus has shifted from storm response” in the wake of Hurricane Nicole, which made landfall on Florida’s East Coast one day after the election.
DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin described the DeSantis request for resignations as “common practice during a transition.”
While it is indeed common for a brand-new, incoming administration to require resignations of existing agency officials and senior staff, it is significantly less common to request resignations amid a victorious administration’s transition to a second term in office. That has prompted much speculation for why Team DeSantis is taking the unusual step.
The answer is likely a combination of two factors coming together to present DeSantis with both an opportunity to upgrade personnel on one hand, and a solution to an approaching problem on the other.
With DeSantis’s rapidly rising national profile, he’s now able to more easily attract and recruit personnel from across the country, giving the administration an opportunity to upgrade certain talent in key positions. But a second factor is also impossible to ignore: there are major resignations coming, whether or not the DeSantis Administration asks for them. A strict new lobbying ban is about to take effect that will bar agency secretaries and executive directors of state agencies from lobbying state officials in Florida for six years.
That’s a very long time for people with high-level agency experience to be banned from leveraging their work experience to make a living. And there are undoubtedly a number of Florida officials who were likely to bail before the ban takes effect on December 31st of this year. So the move by Team DeSantis makes even more sense when viewed in this context.
The combination of DeSantis’s ability to attract out-of-state talent eager to join the inner circle of a potential presidential contender, and the expected departure of high-ranking Florida insiders looking for an exit strategy, provides a perfect explanation for why DeSantis’s Administration would need to return to a full-blown transition mode.
To that end, the DeSantis Administration released a memo Thursday that named three transition chairmen to help fill key appointments for his second term.
Two of the chairmen are former chiefs of staff: Shane Strum and Adrian Lukis. Strum is president and CEO of Broward Health hospital system in South Florida, while Lukis now works as a lobbyist at Ballard Partners. DeSantis also tapped Miami-Dade lawyer Scott Wagner to serve as a third chairman on the transition committee. Wagner currently serves on the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board.
“Over the coming weeks, the Keeping Florida Free Transition Team will meet with current leaders in state government, as well as Florida leaders who are interested in public service,” the governor’s office announced in a press release. “Following those meetings, the team will advise Governor DeSantis on important appointments for his second term in office.”
That begs the question: will those appointments simply fill existing vacancies, or will the DeSantis Administration transition team create a few along the way?
To bolster their personnel recruitment needs, the governor’s office also announced an job application portal, JoinTeamDeSantis.com, where resumes can be submitted. DeSantis will be sworn in for his second term on January 3rd.