Corrections shake-up: Scott prisons chief quits after six months on the jobby Dara Kam | August 24th, 2011
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss has resigned six months after going to work for Gov. Rick Scott.
Buss will be replaced by Ken Tucker, currently assistant director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Tucker will not be named as an interim secretary but will take on full leadership of the department, sources in Scott’s office said.
In a statement, Scott said “differences in philosophy and management styles arose which made the separation in the best interests of the state.”
Buss leaves as his agency undertakes the privatization of more than one-third of the state’s prisons in the region south of Ocala.
And his abrupt resignation comes after Scott’s office twice rebuked the former Indiana prisons chief over state contracts. Scott’s office this week forced out one of Buss’s hand-picked aides – Elizabeth “Betty” Gondles” after citing concerns about a possible conflict of interest with the privatization of the department’s health care services. Gondles’ $180,000, 10-month contract was terminated two months before it was scheduled to run out in October.
Last week, Scott’s office pulled requests for proposals from vendors bidding on health services for the state’s 100,000 inmates. Gondles, who oversaw the RFPs, is married to Jim Gondles, head of the American Correctional Association that accredits the facilities. The RFPs required that vendors pay for ACA membership and pay the organization to perform audits.
Also last week, Scott’s office canceled a contract Buss signed with MSNBC’s “Lockup” allowing a crew to film the reality show at a Panhandle prison. Scott’s aides said Buss hadn’t vetted the contract with them before signing it.