Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Gov. Scott replaces head of emergency operations with political operative

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced the abrupt departure of the head of the state Department of Emergency Management, Bryan Koon, and replaced him with Scott's former campaign aide and Republican Party of Florida operative Wes Maul, who has just over a year of emergency operations experience.

Koon told the governor on Sept. 1 he would resign before the end of the hurricane season "to pursue an opportunity in the private sector,'' said McKinley Lewis, Scott's spokesman. The governor asked Koon to stay until Oct. 1 and he agreed. Maul, 29, will be promoted from chief of staff to interim director.

Koon inherited an emergency management agency that had been streamlined and refined by governors since Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead and other parts of South Florida in 1992. He was shielded from having to deal with a hurricane until 2016, when Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew raked the state as Category 1 storms.

"Since day one, Bryan has done an excellent job ensuring our state is prepared and able to respond to countless weather events including Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and Irma," Scott said in a prepared statement. "I appreciate Bryan's willingness to stay on as we prepared for, responded to and now recover from Hurricane Irma. I wish Bryan and his family the very best in this next chapter of their lives."

Unlike previous governors, Scott did not allow his emergency management director to address the media at briefings or answer questions, preferring instead that he be the lone voice warning Floridians to be prepared. At one point, when a reporter asked Koon to respond to questions at the state's emergency operations center, he said he might have to "get the PIO (public information officer) to tell me if I can answer them or not."

Maul, who graduated from the University of Florida School of Law in 2013, first worked as a travel aide in the governor's 2014 re-election campaign, and the state Division of Elections shows he was paid more than $84,000 by the party and the governor's campaign. According to Maul's application for work in the governor's office, he then came to work doing similar duties with the title "special assistant to the governor."

This is the second time in two years Scott has elevated Maul. In May 2016, Scott named Maul chief of staff reporting to Koon.

"Wes Maul has been a valued member of my team since 2013 and has shown incredible leadership in his service to our state," Scott said in the statement. "As Chief of Staff at DEM, Wes has worked countless hours helping lead our state through Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and now Irma. Since earning his law degree at the University of Florida, Wes has devoted his life to serving the families of our state and I am confident in his ability to lead DEM as Interim Director as we continue to recover from Hurricane Irma."

According to Maul's application with the state, while he was in law school he worked for three years at Barbri Inc. as a "student rep for a review course," spent six months doing legal writing and electronic discovery in UF's Office of General Counsel and worked for three months as a "summer associate" at Mezzanine Fund. He had no emergency management experience before becoming Koon's chief of staff. Mauls' LinkedIn page also shows he worked for one year at Mattress Town of Gainesville before graduating from law school.

Maul's promotion is one of a series of decisions the governor has made to elevate former campaign staffers. Scott is expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate next year.

In 2013, Scott gave another former Republican campaign operative, Taylor Teepell, a $116,000 job in a state agency in which he had no previous subject matter experience. In May, Scott moved Teepell from director of the Division of Community Development in the Department of Economic Opportunity to become the finance director of the New Republican Super PAC, which Scott controls.

Staff writer Kristen M. Clark contributed to this report. Contact Mary Ellen Klas at 850-222-3095 or [email protected]

Comments

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18