Ron DeSantis rehires Florida's budget chief and chief inspector general


Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis is retaining Gov. Rick Scott’s budget chief and rehiring a chief inspector general who served under both Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.

The transition team for the incoming administration of DeSantis and Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez announced Friday that Cynthia Kelly will remain as the director of Office of Policy and Budget and Melinda Miguel will return as the state’s chief inspector general.

The appointments aren’t unexpected, even though DeSantis while on the campaign trail repeatedly pledged to “drain the swamp” in Tallahassee, echoing a refrain espoused by President Donald Trump. Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis helped boost the former congressman to victories in the primary and in last month’s general election match-up against Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Nuñez, a former House leader, said in an interview Thursday that some of Scott’s appointees could remain on the job after the DeSantis administration takes over on Jan. 8.

“I do believe we are in the process of interviewing all current agency heads that have not expressed that they are leaving, or have definitively moved on,” Nuñez said. “We’re speaking to all the current agency heads.”

Kelly, who is paid $146,000 a year, has served as Scott’s budget director since September 2013.

In a press release, DeSantis called Kelly “a long-time, trusted advisor whose work ethic and dedication to the people of Florida is second to none.”

Before going to work for Scott, Kelly served as director of the Division of Administrative Services at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Kelly, who has worked in state government since 1988, has held a series of legislative and executive-branch roles, including staff director of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and director of the House Fiscal Council.

Miguel spent four years as chief inspector general under Crist and six years with Scott before resigning in April 2017 to pursue a private sector opportunity.

“Having previously served in the inspector general role, Melinda knows best practices and has the professional auditing and investigative skills needed to ensure Florida is running smoothly and operating with the highest degree of integrity,” DeSantis said in a release on Friday.

Three months after Miguel left the Scott administration, the Florida Ethics Commission agreed Miguel wouldn’t face an ethical conflict in going to work for Seattle-based Casey Family Program.

The national foundation was to review work by Our Kids Inc., the Department of Children and Families' lead agency for community-based care in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Miguel sought the opinion because she had an “indirect” role in a DCF inspector general's investigation into Our Kids after “whistleblowers” made allegations about the program in 2011.

Miguel ended up working as inspector general for the U.S. Government Publishing Office and as deputy inspector general for the Architect of the Capitol.

Between shifts with Crist, now a member of Congress, and Scott, Miguel spent three months as inspector general for the Florida State Board of Administration. She has also served as inspector general for both the state attorney general’s office and the Florida Department of Education.

Friday's hires were the latest additions to the DeSantis team, as the incoming governor assembles his inner circle.

On Thursday, DeSantis recommended former House Speaker Richard Corcoran to replace Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the veteran educator who recently announced she will step down from her $276,000-a-year job on Jan. 8. The state Board of Education has the final say on Stewart's successor.

Also on Thursday, DeSantis tapped state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Coral Springs, to succeed Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul. Maul is leaving his $141,000-a-year post in January.

Moskowitz said he will step down from his current position as executive vice president and general counsel at AshBritt Environmental, a national disaster recovery and environmental services company based in Deerfield Beach that has contracts throughout the state to clean post-hurricane debris.

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