Incoming Prez Haridopolos clears decks in Senateby Dara Kam | August 3rd, 2010
Before he’s officially taken over as Senate President, Sen. Mike Haridopolos gave the axe to several top-ranking senate staffers this week, according to Senate sources.
The list includes staff directors Bob McKee of the Finance and Tax committee, Ray Wilson of Governmental Oversight and Accountability; General counsel Jay Vail; chief information officer and director of information technology Curt Unruh; and Joe McVaney, deputy staff director with the budget committee.
“The Florida Senate appreciates all of its dedicated employees, but it is the incoming Senate President’s prerogative to make personnel changes, with a new administration. My goal is to have an efficient, well-organized Senate staff, and this is just the first step in doing so,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said in a statement.
The housecleaning takes place after Haridopolos hired Steve MacNamara, former chief of staff for former House Speaker John Thrasher, now a state senator and head of the Republican Party of Florida.
More heads are expected to roll before the November elections. Those leaving will be able to run out their annual leave and comp time, according to a source close to Senate President Jeff Atwater’s office.
Haridopolos’ plan has been in the works for more than a month.
In May, he told The Palm Beach Post he was getting rid of some staffers “who think they’re the 41st senator” and advised them to run for office if they want to create public policy.
Haridopolos sought input on the firings from Sen. Gary Siplin, an Orlando Democrat who is chairman of the Black Caucus, earlier this summer.
Siplin sent a memo to black lawmakers asking for their recommendations.
Haridopolos “has asked for the assistance of Black Caucus Senators in determining the best personnel to staff the Senate committees and other Tallahassee-based Senate offices,” Siplin wrote to black senators on June 1.
Siplin has crossed party lines to vote with Republicans on a number of key votes, including a proposed constitutional amendment that would have gutted a separate amendment revamping how congressional and legislative districts are drawn.