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Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Steve Bousquet

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master's in history from Florida State University.

Bousquet was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Phone: (850) 224-7263

Email: sbousquet@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SteveBousquet

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  1. Perspective: It's our Cabinet, and it's a mess

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE

    A country preacher opened a recent meeting of the Florida Cabinet with a simple prayer for the state's top elected officials.

    "Lord," said the Rev. George Hall of Avon Park, "thank you for our governor, Rick Scott, and his Cabinet."

    It's a simple enough mistake. It's not his Cabinet, even though recent events suggest otherwise. Under the state Constitution, the three Cabinet members — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — are independently elected members of a collegial body in a power-sharing arrangement unique among the 50 states. But to see them in action, you wouldn't know it. The turmoil that has engulfed state government in recent weeks makes the Cabinet look like Scott's plaything....

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  2. Scott's muzzling of FDLE's Bailey, and more outrage from Putnam

    Blog

    In ways large and small, Gov. Rick Scott's office made life miserable for Gerald Bailey.

    Bailey's firing as commissioner of FDLE has become a media firestorm and the worst controversy of Scott's tenure as governor. Here's another incident, one that has Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam shaking his head in dismay, and it involves paying about 300 FDLE employees more money.

    Bailey's last appearance as FDLE commissioner was at the Dec. 9 Cabinet meeting, where he gave a presentation on crime statistics and mentioned the Thanksgiving weekend surge in applications for concealed weapons permits. But there was another issue that two Cabinet members wanted to discuss: the unusually high turnover rate among FDLE crime lab analysts, and how Bailey planned to fix it....

  3. Consumer lawyer files Sunshine Law complaint over FDLE fiasco

    Blog

    Matthew Weidner, a St. Petersburg lawyer whose practice focuses on consumer justice, has filed a complaint with a state prosecutor, accusing Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members and their staffs of violating Florida's Sunshine Law and asking for a criminal investigation over the firing of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

    Weidner filed his complaint with Tallahassee-area State Attorney Willie Meggs, who has publicly dismissed Bailey's complaints as "much ado about nothing" and "nothing more than a squabble." Meggs said that if Bailey believed any laws were broken, he should have filed a complaint with the state attorney's office. Meggs also suggested the Cabinet members conduct their own investigation....

  4. Adam Putnam, others criticize Gov. Rick Scott over FDLE firing

    Blog

    Top state officials in both political parties leveled harsh new criticism at Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday for his decision to oust the longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner absent public discussion with the three Cabinet members who also oversee the agency.

    In his strongest criticism yet, Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said "we were misled" about Scott's true intentions to orchestrate Gerald Bailey's removal after a glowing three-decade FDLE career....

  5. Cabinet members step up attacks on Gov. Rick Scott over FDLE firing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE

    The raging controversy over Gov. Rick Scott's removal of a respected law enforcement official escalated Wednesday as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said he was "misled" by Scott's office and a St. Petersburg lawyer formally accused top state officials of Sunshine Law violations.

    In addition, Attorney General Pam Bondi surprisingly said that she believed Scott's staff members orchestrated the ouster of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey without the governor's knowledge....

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she believes Scott's staff members orchestrated the ouster of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey without the governor's knowledge.
  6. Gov. Scott proposes Cabinet changes in wake of FDLE fiasco

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a series of changes in handling of appointments and job reviews of Cabinet-level agency heads in the wake of the fiasco last month in which his office forced the ouster of a top state police executive without the advance knowledge of the three Cabinet members. Scott's office maintains that all three Cabinet members' staff members knew of Scott's desire for changes at FDLE and that staffers "raised no objection."...

  7. Scott already eyeing replacement for state's top insurance regulator

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott recruited a Louisiana state official as the replacement for Florida's chief insurance regulator weeks before he publicly called for the regulator's removal as part of a second-term reorganization.

    Scott's office confirmed Monday that it asked for a resume from Ron Henderson, 45, the deputy insurance commissioner for consumer advocacy in Louisiana. His name was pitched to Scott by a Tallahassee lobbyist for the insurance industry, Fred Karlinsky, a friend of Scott's and co-chairman of his recent second inaugural....

    Kevin McCarty has headed Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation since 2003.
  8. Gov. Scott's office confirms it eyed La. official in place of McCarty

    Blog

    UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott's office confirms that it sought to recruit a Louisiana insurance official as a possible replacement for Florida insurance regulator Kevin McCarty before Scott publicly suggested last week that McCarty be replaced.

    An online news service that covers the insurance industry, SNL, first reported that Scott's office asked Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson to interview for McCarty's job weeks before Scott said he was looking for "new leadership" at OIR. SNL said it learned about Scott's interest in Henderson from Henderson's boss, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James Donelon, who alerted McCarty....

    Gov. Rick Scott publicly suggested last week that Florida insurance regulator Kevin McCarty, left, be replaced.
  9. 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....

  10. 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....

  11. CFO Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam call for investigation into FDLE firing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Two Cabinet members on Thursday called for an outside investigation to learn the truth behind Florida Gov. Rick Scott's forced ouster of the state's top law enforcement official and claims of political interference by Scott's office.

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, both Republicans like Scott, said a third party could independently investigate allegations made by former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey....

    Gerald Bailey now lists several allegations against Scott.
  12. Attorney General Pam Bondi joins Cabinet scrutiny of Gov. Rick Scott's actions in FDLE firing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Cabinet members are turning up the heat on Gov. Rick Scott over the botched removal of a top state police official, with Attorney General Pam Bondi raising "serious questions" about Scott's conduct.

    Bondi on Wednesday became the last of the three elected Republican Cabinet members to distance herself from the ouster last month of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Bailey alleges that Scott and his aides meddled in law enforcement business and used strong-arm tactics to pressure him to resign....

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said there are "serious questions" over how the state's law-enforcement chief was ousted from his job by employees of Gov. Rick Scott. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2014)]
  13. Scott's new corrections chief retracts criticism of private prisons

    Blog

    Florida corrections secretary Julie Jones on Wednesday retracted previous statements she made to a Senate committee in which she said private prison operators selectively pick and choose inmates by housing non-violent offenders and avoiding those with expensive substance abuse and mental health problems. It even has a catchy name in the Capitol -- "cherry picking" -- but Jones testified Wednesday that it simply isn't true....

  14. Atwater breaks with Gov. Scott, who suggests he's cleaning house

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater became the first Cabinet member to fully break with Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday in calling for the reopening of the search for a new commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Two other Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, said they were reviewing their options, and it was the strongest sign yet that all three elected officials, under fire for not questioning the forced resignation of ex-FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, are distancing themselves from Scott, now engulfed in a full-blown crisis barely two weeks into his second term....

    Jeff Atwater has been criticized for not questioning the forced resignation of the ex-chief.
  15. Atwater first Cabinet member to ask that Scott redo FDLE search

    Blog

    Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater became the first Cabinet member to fully break with Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday in calling for the reopening of the search for a new commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    “The people of Florida will be best served knowing the leadership of State Cabinet agencies have been selected following a transparent public process in which all Cabinet members are able to make fully-informed decisions,” Atwater said in a statement released late Tuesday....