Secretary of State Kurt Browning resigns for the second timeby Dara Kam | January 11th, 2012
Browning, who met briefly with Gov. Rick Scott today before announcing his resignation, has served twice as the state’s chief elections official. He worked for four years for Gov. Charlie Crist but took an early retirement in 2010 because of a new rule dealing with state workers collecting pensions while on the job.
Scott rehired Browning shortly after the governor took office in January. After six months off the state payroll, Browning was again eligible to work and collect retirement pay at the same time. Browning, who earns $139,999.92 a year, will stay until Feb. 17, after which he is considering a run for Pasco County school superintendent.
Browning told reporters Wednesday he did “a lot of soul-searching” over the holidays before deciding to step down, that he was not being forced out and that he hopes his replacement will take over before he leaves.
“I’ve always said the department of state ran well before I got here. It will run well after I’m gone,” Browning said.
Browning’s been involved in a high-profile federal lawsuit over the state’s new elections laws, and has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s administration.
In October, the three-judge panel rejected Browning’s request to rush the case before the January primary and blamed the state for the delay.
Browning, a Republican, initially sought the Justice Department’s approval of the law but later skirted the administration and asked a federal court in Washington to review the most controversial portions of the law to make sure they do not violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Browning also asked the court to overturn the preclearance portion of the 1965 law, reenacted periodically since then by Congress, saying it is outdated and unnecessary.
Scott praised Browning’s service in a statement.
“I commend his dedication to overseeing orderly, fair and error-free elections and ensuring Florida’s elections system is secure and defended from fraud. Over the last year, Secretary Browning has been instrumental in implementing the new elections law, working with Florida’s 67 independently elected Supervisors of Elections to prepare for the state’s presidential primary later this month, and coordinating Florida’s 500th anniversary celebration in 2013,” Scott said.