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Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg City Hall. He now covers state politics and government as part of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Phone: (850) 224-7263.

Email: mvansickler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

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  1. Ethics complaint filed over FDLE controversy

    State Roundup

    A day after State Attorney Willie Meggs took a pass on investigating the ouster of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a Villages resident asked the Florida Commission on Ethics to take a look at what happened.

    "This is a complaint as to whether it is ethical for Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and the State of Florida to fire Jerry Bailey ... in secret meetings not open to the public and without the knowledge and consent of Florida State Cabinet officials," Charles Swofford stated in the complaint....

  2. Commission on Ethics the latest to be asked to look at Bailey ouster

    Blog

    A day after State Attorney Willie Meggs took a pass on investigating the ouster of Gerald Bailey from commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a Villages resident asked if the Florida Commission on Ethics cared to take a look at what happened....

  3. Meggs won't investigate possible Sunshine Law violation in Bailey ouster

    Blog

    State Attorney Willie Meggs said Thursday that he will not investigate whether the state's open meetings law was violated by Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members in last month's ouster of the commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement....

  4. Possible FDLE Sunshine Law violation won't be investigated by state attorney

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — State Attorney Willie Meggs said Thursday that he will not investigate whether the state's open meetings law was violated by Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members in last month's ouster of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner.

    "It doesn't ring my bell," Meggs told the Times/Herald. "If one of the Cabinet staff aides came to my office and wanted to confess, that's about the only way I'm going to prove a violation of the Sunshine Law. Short of that, I'd need a wiretap. People are generally smart enough that if they know they're violating the law, they're not going to put it in writing."...

    State Attorney Willie Meggs called the FDLE matter “much ado about nothing.”
  5. Gov. Scott proposes $77 billion budget with $673 million in tax cuts

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a proposed $77 billion budget Wednesday that spends nearly all of a $1 billion surplus on tax cuts and an increase in education spending, but it also cuts the state workforce further while shifting education costs to local taxpayers.

    "It's a strong budget because our economy is strong," Scott told a day-long gathering of state reporters and editorial writers in the Capitol. "The way to make it stronger is return more money to the people."...

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a pre-legislative news conference, Wednesday in Tallahassee. (AP Photo)
  6. Scott's budget cuts taxes by $673 million, positions by 1,353

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a proposed $77 billion budget Wednesday that spends nearly all of a $1 billion surplus on tax cuts and an increase in education spending, but leaves many unmet needs by cutting 1.2 percent of the state workforce.

    “It’s a strong budget because our economy is strong,” Scott told a gathering in the Capitol of state reporters and editorial writers. “The way to make it stronger is return more money to the people.”...

  7. Commission on Ethics finds state Rep. Marlene O'Toole didn't disclose voting conflicts

    Blog

    The Florida Commission on Ethics found that Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake, failed to disclose a voting conflict when she voted on the 2013 budget.

    As the Times/Herald reported in 2013, O’Toole didn’t disclose her dual roles as chief operating officer of a nonprofit called “Take Stock in Children” and vice chair of the House education appropriations committee that approved $6 million for the Miami nonprofit....

    Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake
  8. Husband of top Florida House aide lands six-figure gig at Department of Education

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The husband of Florida House chief of staff Kathy Mears was handed the top legal job at the state Department of Education last week.

    Matthew Mears filled a vacancy created five months ago when his wife, the top aide to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, hired Department of Education lawyer Matt Carson to be the House general counsel.

    It's a unique situation that apparently isn't covered by state law. Agencies are prohibited from allowing relatives to hire each other, but Kathy Mears doesn't work for the DOE. Nor did she hire her husband....

  9. Coincidence? Husband of top House aide lands six-figure gig at DOE

    Blog

    The husband of Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli's chief aide was handed the top legal job at the state education department last week.

    He filled a vacancy created five months ago by the same aide -- House Chief of Staff Kathy Mears -- when she hired away the education department’s lawyer.

    DOE officials won’t say if the $120,000 general counsel job that went to Matthew Mears on Jan. 20 was advertised or if there were other candidates. Mears and House officials said they didn't advertise the general counsel position that was awarded to Matt Carson from the DOE, leaving the vacancy filled by Mears’ husband. But they did say it was a formal process in which one other attorney, Stuart Williams, was interviewed. Two other attorneys were asked if they were interested in interviewing, according to the House, but they declined. ...

  10. As chorus builds for FDLE probe, Scott dodges media

    Blog

    As Gov. Rick Scott on Friday continued to brush off questions about allegations of political meddling made by the state's former top law enforcement officer, pressure mounted elsewhere in Florida to get answers.

    A Land O'Lakes man filed a formal complaint with the FBI asking for an investigation into a series of claims made last week by Gerald Bailey, whom Scott ousted as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement....

  11. Calls for FDLE investigations grow as Gov. Rick Scott continues to avoid questions

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As Gov. Rick Scott on Friday continued to brush off questions about allegations of political meddling made by the state's former top law enforcement officer, pressure mounted elsewhere in Florida to get answers.

    A Land O'Lakes man filed a formal complaint with the FBI asking for an investigation into a series of claims made last week by Gerald Bailey, whom Scott ousted as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement....

  12. Stuck on Repeat: Scott avoids FDLE questions in Winter Park

    Blog

    During a Friday afternoon news conference in Winter Park, reporters continued to push Gov. Rick Scott to answer questions that he’s been dodging for a week about why he ousted Gerald Bailey from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the allegations that Bailey has made since then....

  13. Another day, another news conference with Scott dodging questions on FDLE

    Blog

    Since revelations surfaced on Jan. 13 about his removal of Gerald Bailey from the Department of Law Enforcement, Gov. Rick Scott has avoided answering questions from reporters in any meaningful detail....

  14. Scott puts little to rest in response to FDLE inquiries

    Blog

    So Gov. Rick Scott, or rather his office, has responded to inquiries about his Dec. 16 ouster of Gerald Bailey from his job as Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the allegations that were subsequently made by Bailey....

  15. Meggs says he won't investigate FLDE

    Blog