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DeSantis: DEP Appointee Doesn't Need Cabinet's OK

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Governor's Press Office
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DeSantis may eschew approval for DEP secretary.

Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Tuesday he might not get approval from the state Cabinet for his next appointee to run the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

In what would be a precedent-setting action, DeSantis hinted that he might only need the approval of the appointee from the Legislature.

The issue came up during a Cabinet meeting when Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried asked about plans to replace former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein.

When Fried, a Democrat running to try to unseat the Republican governor in 2022, said the appointment requires Cabinet approval, DeSantis disagreed. He feels the approval could instead come from the state lawmakers.

“There is an argument that it conflicts and that it would be one or the other,” the governor said. “My sense would be that the legislature would retain their authority, rather than give the cabinet authority. So, that will be a live issue potentially, if we end up with a conflict.”

Fried contends the governor wants to go around the Cabinet, in order to cut her out of the decision-making process.

“It protects our wetlands, our waterways, our natural resources,” said Fried. “This is fundamental to who we are as Floridians, is the job of the Department of Environmental Protection. I think it was absolutely intentional that they (the legislature) left it as a unanimous decision.”

A part of state statute about the creation of the Department of Environmental Protection, says, quote: “The head of the Department of Environmental Protection shall be a secretary, who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the concurrence of three members of the Cabinet.

“The secretary shall be confirmed by the Florida Senate. The secretary shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.”