Thursday, March 23Welcome

DeSantis Election Security Chief Pete Antonacci Dies

Tallahassee — Pete Antonacci, who has had a decades-long career in Florida politics and government, was appointed this year to lead Gov. died.

Antonacci has an unparalleled background in state government and politics, having been appointed to various offices by five different governors from both sides of the aisle since the 1980s.

In July he was selected by DeSantis to lead the state’s new Election Crime and Security Division. and believed he was authorized to vote by someone in the government.

DeSantis said in a statement on Friday that he and wife Casey were “deeply saddened” by his death.

“He was a dedicated, tenacious, hardworking civil servant, lawyer, respected professional, and friend of everyone in Florida,” said DeSantis. Throughout his long career as Deputy Commissioner, Statewide Prosecutor, General Counsel, and Election Supervisor, he has worked diligently to uphold the law, most recently serving as the newly appointed Observer overseeing election security in Florida. I was.

“His passion for fighting is gone and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of many.”

The governor’s office did not specify Antonacci’s cause of death, but the website Florida Politics, which first reported his death, listed a heart attack.

News of Antonacci’s death prompted messages of admiration and sympathy from across the political aisle.

Republican Senator Rick Scott said Antonacci was appointed general counsel and several other positions during his governorship, but Antonacci “knew how to bring people together and solve problems.” .

“I am honored to call him a friend and proud to work with him.

U.S. Representative Charlie Christo, who nominated Antonacci to his judicial nominating committee as governor and reappointed him to the board of directors for the Northwest Florida Water Management District, offered his condolences to Antonacci’s family. I am running as a Democrat for Governor against the

“Peter Antonacci is a dedicated and respected public servant with a long history of working with members from both sides of the aisle to a better Florida,” Christo’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Born August 21, 1948, Antonacci graduated from Hialeah High School and was raised in Hialeah before earning a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning and a graduate degree in 1979 from Florida State University.

In 1980, he was appointed prosecutor of the Tallahassee-based Judiciary Circuit and has had a sometimes controversial but diversified career as a trusted advisor and political corrector to the state’s most powerful officials. It was started.

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As a local prosecutor in 1987, he dismissed a criminal sexual harassment charge against powerful state Rep. Fred Lippman, D-Hollywood, made by one of the legislator’s aides. A month later, Antonacci applied for the post of special prosecutor. Antonacci later testified after a judicial nominating committee had selected him as a finalist, and he asked Lippman for help winning the position.

From 1991 to 1997, Antonacci’s resume shows that he served as Deputy Attorney General for Democratic Attorney General Bob Butterworth, managing over 300 attorneys.

From 1998 to 2012, he was in private practice, primarily as a shareholder in Gray Robinson & Co., but never strayed far from power.

government at the time. Jeb Bush elected him to the Florida Ethics Committee in 2001, Senate Special Counsel in 2004, Judicial Nominations Committee in 2005, and Water Management District Committee in 2006. Cocaine was found in her shoes in 2002.

But when Scott took office as governor in 2011, Antonacci became particularly credible. Scott chose him as the governor’s general counsel in 2013 after selecting Antonacchi to serve his term as Palm Beach County State Attorney.

As the governor’s top attorney, Antonacci also found himself at the center of the biggest scandal in Scott’s office. In 2015, Gerald Bailey, then-commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, abruptly resigned. Scott said he resigned voluntarily, but Bailey later said Antonacci had ordered him to “retire or resign” after eight years as commissioner and more than 20 years at the agency.

The dismissal without public discussion of a person who reported to the governor and cabinet appeared to violate the state’s public meeting law.

After the 2018 election, Scott fired Broward County Election Commissioner Brenda Snipes over allegations of wrongdoing and appointed Antonacci in her place. Despite initial complaints by Democrats, Antonacci earned bipartisan acclaim for his handling of the 2020 election, making it the smoothest in years for the county.

Antonacci held that role until 2019, when DeSantis fired the head of the Administrative Hearings, an obscure panel of judges that oversee state-related administrative disputes, choosing Antonacci to replace him.

Times Staff Writers Tom Tobin and Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this story.

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