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Lawsuit seeks to speed up lieutenant governor selection

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida activist is suing Gov. Rick Scott for failing to fill the state's No. 2 job.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, argues that Scott is legally obligated to name a new lieutenant governor and asks the state Supreme Court to hurry along the selection process.

"All (the) petitioner seeks in this case is an order compelling the governor to adhere to his duty to make an appointment and do it now," the suit, filed on behalf of Barbara DeVane, states.

The court filing didn't seem to light a fire under the governor on Monday. "The governor is going to take the right time to find the right person," Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said.

Florida has been without a lieutenant governor since Jennifer Carroll resigned the post nearly 10 months ago.

At the time, Carroll was being questioned about her ties to a purported charity at the center of a federal racketeering investigation. She was never accused of wrongdoing.

Scott has said he intends to fill the job, and his office has vetted potential candidates. But so far, no new second-in-command has been named.

Some observers blame the delay on the election cycle.

Scott, a Republican, is running for re-election in 2014 and is required to tap someone as his running-mate two months before the November election. But Florida law doesn't set a timeline to fill the vacancy sooner.

In the lawsuit, DeVane raised concerns about the order of succession. Attorney General Pam Bondi is next in line while the office of lieutenant governor is vacant.

"If the Governor (who resigned his previous position as chief executive officer of a company that pled guilty to massive amounts of systemic fraud, including 14 felonies, leading to a historic $1.7 billion fine) resigns amid scandal like his lieutenant or dies, there is no lieutenant governor to fulfill the heavy responsibilities of the office," the lawsuit states.

The suit also argues that without a lieutenant governor, Florida has no top executive to take emergency action in the governor's absence.

DeVane is Democrat who lobbies for the Florida National Organization for Women. Her attorney, Don Hinkle, is a Democrat who has contributed to Democrat Charlie Crist's campaign for governor.

But DeVane said the suit was not meant to be partisan.

"I did not do it for any political party," she said. "I did it as a citizen and former social studies teacher who thinks that the governor is not above the law."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lawsuit seeks to speed up lieutenant governor selection 01/06/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 8:28pm]
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