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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Introducing Movers and Shakers, a column about people going places in Tallahassee politics

17

January

Buzz is shaking things up. Instead of posting personnel notes as they flood our in-boxes, we're going to save them for a one-stop rundown on Mondays. Enjoy the first edition of Movers and Shakers.

Dan Conston left his role as Republican Party of Florida spokesman for a new role on Capitol Hill. He will be communications director for his old boss, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, who will be chief deputy whip.

Former House staffer Chris Turner is going back to the Florida House Democratic Caucus as a legislative analyst. He worked for the House Democratic office from 2006 to 2009 before taking brief gigs with the Democratic National Committee and the Florida Senate.

Legislative Affairs directors named

Registered lobbyist Allen Mortham Jr. is the Department of Corrections' new director of legislative affairs. The son of former Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, Mortham has represented First Professionals Insurance Co., the Florida Association of Counties and Medisyn Systems Inc.  The man he replaced, Jason Welty, became the government operations consultant in inmate transition. Alex Melendez, a Scott campaign staffer, joins the office as a management analyst.

Chris Chaney, a former campaign staffer of Bill McCollum and Scott, will oversee legislative affairs for the Agency for Health Care Administration. Orlando Pryor, a fellow former Scott campaign staffer and University of North Florida graduate, will join the office as a senior management analyst.

Taking over legislative affairs at the Florida Department of State is 23-year-old Anthony Bonna, a 2009 Georgetown University grad who managed Karen Deibel's unsuccessful congressional campaign. He was a researcher on Scott's campaign.

Gov. Rick Scott names a few more insiders to administration

Doug Darling is Scott's new deputy chief of staff and chief Cabinet aide. He leaves his chief inspector general position at the Department of Environmental Affairs for the new gig and its salary of $125,000 per year. Darling, a former lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, was in charge of the state Division of Accounting and Auditing under former CFO Alex Sink in 2008 -- until she fired him after an internal audit found a lack of internal controls.

Melinda Miguel, 47, returns as chief inspector general, the same role she held under Charlie Crist. She left the governor's office in November for a similar job at the State Board of Administration, which manages the state pension fund.  Attorneys C.B. Upton and Jesse Panuccio will each serve as Scott's deputy legal counsel, earning $100,000 annual salaries. Upton was previously the Florida Department of State's general counsel.  Panuccio was an associate at Washington litigation firm Cooper & Kirk. Scott beefed up his communications team by hiring Brian Hughes, Jeff Atwater's campaign spokesman. Hughes will make $82,000 a year as Scott's deputy communications director. Read more about the appointees in this Times/Herald Saturday story.

Shuffles at Florida TaxWatch

Kurt Wenner, formerly director of tax research and a TaxWatch staffer of 30 years, received a promotion: He's now the vice president of tax research and will oversee projects dealing with state and local budgets and "taxation issues." Robert Weissert, formerly director of communications and special counsel to the president and CEO, is vice president of research and general counsel. Dan Krassner is vice president of communications, jumping from the Florida Chamber of Commerce's senior management team. And Mike Brand was named research analyst. He previously worked for the Department of Education, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Department of Community Affairs and as a TV news reporter, photographer and producer.

New Public Service Commissioners bring on temporary aides

Commissioners Julie Brown and Eduardo Balbis have hired two aides from within the PSC general counsel's office. Joining Brown is senior attorney Samantha Cibula. Balbis brought on Lisa Bennett, an attorney supervisor.

Did we miss someone? E-mail Times/Herald reporter Katie Sanders at ksanders@sptimes.com with submissions. We'll get 'em next week.

Information from the News Service of Florida was included in this report.

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[Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 4:52pm]

    

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