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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Movers and Shakers: Haridopolos shakes up Senate staff



It's been a wild summer for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who has lost several high-ranking aides and abandoned his run for U.S. Senate. Things aren't slowing down for him at the Capitol, where he and new chief of staff Craig Meyer have been busy hiring and firing staffers.

Katherine Halley, Senate majority office staff director since October, is Haridopolos' new deputy chief of staff, a position vacated by Chris Finkbeiner. Halley was previously Haridopolos' district legislative assistant of five years. Finkbeiner followed Steve MacNamara, Haridopolos' former chief of staff now working the same role under Gov. Rick Scott, to the governor's office.

Haridopolos also replaced departed spokesman David Bishop. Lyndsey Cruley, House leadership team press secretary, will take that job starting Aug. 8. She was Haridopolos' spokeswoman during his 2010 Medicaid solutions tour as part of her work for Bascom Communications. That job also put her on the campaigns of Republican Sens. Greg Evers and John Thrasher. Cruley is an alumna of Florida State.

Two Senate committee staff directors are out. Jim Spalla, staff director of the Agriculture and Transportation committees, is replaced on both committees by Rivers Buford, Haridopolos' chief aide and policy adviser and former long-time Department of State legislative affairs director.

Buford is replaced by Taylor Biehl, a former Haridopolos special assistant and Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association director of governmental affairs. His last job: an associate at lawyer Steve Uhlfelder's lobbying firm.

Also out is is Dave Cooper, staff director of the Senate Commerce committee. He is replaced by Jennifer Hrdlicka, who has worked on the committee as an analyst and lawyer since 2009.

Halley said committee leaders serve at the pleasure of the president and "there's nothing specific we can point to" as to why Cooper and Spalla were told to leave.

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Attorney Rick Figlio left Scott's general counsel office in early July to return to firm Ausley & McMullen. He worked there from September 2009 until former Gov. Charlie Crist named him general counsel in May 2010. He's a graduate of Davidson College and obtained his law degree from the University of Georgia.

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U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner nabbed a spokesman: Douglass Mayer. Mayer verified his new job in a tweet to Hasner's campaign consultant  on Monday, "Thanks @TheRickWilson, pumped to be on the @AdamHasner team." Mayer has worked for Bob Ehrlich's gubernatorial campaign in Maryland and the Republican National Committee. He is a 2004 alumnus of the St. Mary's College of Maryland. He works from Boca Raton.

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Jon Peck is the new communications director for the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Peck worked for newspapers such as the Tampa Times and United Press International for eight years before entering the public sector. He's been the communications director at the Department of Community Affairs, for former Gov. Bob Martinez from 1988-90, the attorney's general's office and most recently at the Department of Elder Affairs.

The commission recently lost its executive director, Derick Daniel, who resigned this summer after working for the state 26 years. The commission will rely on two interim co-directors, budget director Michelle Wilson and general counsel Larry Kranert, instead of hiring a new director anytime soon.

"My impression is it's going to be this way up to and including the next legislative session," Peck said.

Send your personnel news to or @katielsanders.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 5:37pm]


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