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Governor Insists Former FDLE Head Resigned As Bailey Says He Was Forced Out

Former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey during a press conference.
Former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey during a press conference.
Former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey during a press conference.
Credit WFSU
Former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey during a press conference.

Two of Governor Rick Scott’s new agency leaders earned cabinet-level approval Tuesday, but Scott still isn’t saying why he let go of one his longest-serving agency secretaries.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey has been replaced by Rick Swearingen.  Scott was twice asked by reporters Tuesday why Bailey was let go but didn’t answer the question.

“I tell you Commissioner Bailey did a great job. Commissioner Swearingen will do a great job. The cabinet approved him today. We’re at a 43-year low in our crime rate, and we’re going to continue to make sure this is a state people want to live in because it’s safe," Scott said, deflecting.

It is not unusual for a governor to change agency heads at the start of a second term, but Bailey’s release caught other members of the cabinet off guard. Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam say all they know is that Bailey resigned.

The cabinet approved Rick Swearingen’s appointment Tuesday, along with Jon Steverson as the new Department of Environmental Protection secretary. Terry Rhodes is now leading the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
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