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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

In staff shake-up, Janet Cruz taps ex-lobbyist to run Democratic office

Democratic Leader-designate Janet Cruz, D-Tampa

Courtesy photo

Democratic Leader-designate Janet Cruz, D-Tampa



Rep. Janet Cruz, the incoming Democratic leader of the Florida House, is making changes to the minority caucus’ staff, replacing longtime staff director Durward Brewer with a former legislative staffer and lobbyist.

In an email Wednesday morning, Cruz, D-Tampa, informed House Democrats that Joe McCann would take over the top staff job in the minority office. McCann was until three years ago a lobbyist and senior vice president with Ballard Partners, whose Tampa practice is run by Cruz’s daughter Ana Cruz.

But Janet Cruz said that connection has nothing to do with her decision to hire McCann.

“Absolutely not,” Cruz said. “There’s no correlation there.”

Additionally, state records show Ballard Partners has never contributed to Cruz's campaign or to the Florida Democratic Party.

After leaving Ballard, McCann worked at the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.

Prior to a 16-year lobbying career, McCann was on staff for former Democratic congressman Ron Klein when he served in the Florida House and Senate, and for former congressman Jim Bacchus in Washington, D.C.

“In 2017, we need to be ready to take on the tough work of bettering our great state,” Cruz said in an email to House Democrats. “That will require a staff that is efficient, determined, and fearless, and Joe is the man for the job.”

Such staffing shake-ups are common, Cruz said.

“Changes in staff have been a natural part of changes in leadership,” she said.

The staff director is the highest ranking staff member in the minority, overseeing other Democratic staff such as aides and attorneys. Brewer made $112,920 per year in the job.

Brewer became staff director of the Democratic office in 2009. Prior to that, he spent 10 years as an attorney for House Democrats.

McCann won’t be the only new staffer ushered in by Cruz. Paul Flemming, the House Democrats’ communications director is leaving, as well, after two years as the caucus' spokesman.

Cruz would not say who she has tapped to take over that position, saying she would alert Democratic lawmakers as well as reporters after a decision has been finalized.

One possibility is Anders Croy, deputy communications director for the Florida Democratic Party, who last week submitted a job application with the Florida House. It does not say what position he is applying for but indicates a preference for a job in “communications.”

— Steve Bousquet contributed to this post.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:16pm]


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