Atwater, Putnam Say FDLE Ouster Should Be Investigated

Jan 22, 2015

CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam say they think the ouster of the state's former FDLE Chief should be investigated.
Credit The Florida Channel

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater stepped up their criticism of Governor Rick Scott’s administration Thursday. Both Atwater and Putnam are joining an increasing number of voices who say there should be an investigation into the firing of the state’s former top law enforcement official.

Call it what you want—forced resignation, firing, termination—the ouster of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey continues to ricochet around the capitol. At the center of the storm is Governor Rick Scott and the reasons behind Bailey’s departure. Bailey has accused the Governor’s administration of trying to get him to falsely name a former Orange County Clerk of Court as the target of an investigation. Putnam says he believes the issue should be investigated.

“There’s an inspector general at FDLE there’s also a chief inspector general. I have not seen comments in the last couple days from former commissioner Gerald bailey," Putnam said. " I think it’s important that the processes built in work, and there should be some follow-up to those allegations.”

CFO Jeff Atwater agrees with Putnam. Atwater initially wanted the governor to institute a search process for a new FDLE head. Scott answered with a no, and then told cabinet members he wanted them to consider more changes at other agencies. Atwater says he’s not willing to consider switching out any more agency heads until there is a resolution to the current situation.

“You could put 100 names on the list, I’m not going to talk about any talent that works for the state of Florida until there is a process that we can all agree to that is transparent," he said.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says she wants to revisit Bailey’s ouster at the cabinet’s next meeting. Legislative democrats say they believe there should be some sort of inquiry into Bailey’s ouster—and have suggested the state ethics commission. Other groups have suggested the U.S. Attorney’s Office or FBI. Even the state’s Republican leaders are slowly backing away from Governor Rick Scott. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has said he’s concerned about the allegations against the Governor. Scott’s office says Bailey’s accusations of political meddling aren’t true.

State Attorney Willie Meggs has ruled himself out on the short-list of potential investigative agencies.