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MacNamara out as Scott chief-of-staff, Hollingsworth in

by John Kennedy | May 12th, 2012

Rick Scott’s chief-of-staff, Steve MacNamara, resigned Saturday after a brief meeting with the governor, concluding that ”media attention” focused on him had begun to “interfere with the day-t0-day operations of this office.”

MacNamara will leave July 1. Scott announced the veteran capital insider will be replaced by Adam Hollingsworth, who leads the right-of-way division for Flagler Development Group.

Hollingsworth is a former chief-of-staff to ex-Mayor John Peyton of Jacksonville. He left the mayor’s office to work for the Florida Republican Party in advance of Scott’s election, and also served on the incoming governor’s transition team.

“I’m grateful for Steve’s invaluable assistance in helping advance my agenda to strengthen education, create jobs and lower the cost of living for Floridians,” Scott said in a statement Saturday, while praising MacNamara for guiding a generally successful agenda for the governor through the Legislature this spring.

Scott added, “I believe Steve has had a tremendous impact on me and Ann as well as my administration and our state. I respect his efforts and ideas.”

MacNamara’s departure comes at least a few months ahead of his planned exit, but was hastened by media reports questioning his awarding no-bid contracts — one worth $5.5 million — to close associates while he worked for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. Former associates also accused him of being an overly controlling presence in the governor’s office.

Last week, a complaint against MacNamara also was filed with the state’s Commission on Ethics, accusing him of using governor’s office staff to assist him in inquiring about a college presidency opening in Montana. MacNamara and his wife own property in Montana, and influenced Scott and his wife, Ann, to buy near them. 

MacNamara left the Senate presidency job last June to join Scott, taking over as the new administration’s approval ratings tanked with Floridians, angered by deep budget cuts worsened by the governor’s difficulties connecting with the public.

MacNamara immediately attempted to soften the governor’s image — with Scott most days going without a necktie, suddenly visiting editorial boards he had shunned, and adopting a more cooperative approach with the Legislature.

Scott’s approval ratings remain lousy among Floridians, according to polls. But in his resignation letter, MacNamara pointed with pride toward his work helping Scott repair his first-year image.

“It is my belief that I have helped Floridians begin to know the real Rick Scott,” MacNamara wrote Saturday. “A man who listens to them, who tries to understand their issues and concerns, and works diligently to solve their problems.”

Before joining the governor’s office last June,  MacNamara directed wholesale housecleaning in the Senate administration, forcing out a number of longtime staff directors.  Some of the contracts MacNamara steered to associates and friends were part of his effort to improve the efficiency and transparency of Haridopolos’ office, qualities he also said he brought to Scott’s administration.

But MacNamara also drew controversy. Several Scott agency heads left over the past year, later citing MacNamara’s hands-on approach as interfering with their ability to lead, sometimes over seemingly petty matters.

 Doug Darling, chief of the Department of Economic Opportunity, a key agency for the job-promoting Scott, abruptly quit in January after MacNamara countermanded his order denying the state’s film commissioner a trip to the Sundance Film Festival.

MacNamara earned $189,000 as chief-of-staff.

He previously was chief-of-staff to former House Speaker John Thrasher, and served as an agency head under former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez. MacNamara is a tenured professor in communications at Florida State University, but helped shape Scott’s views of higher education as being rife with waste and overpaid administrators.

Although he didn’t comment directly on the accusations that have lately hounded him, MacNamara closed his two-page resignation letter by hinting that he was the target of those losing out on government contracts under the belt-tightening Scott. He also suggested that Scott would continue to defy these critics.

“As you continue to cut government waste,” MacNamara wrote, “those vendors of goods and services will work diligently to twist the story and bring about public pressure to stop these cost savings. Good luck with that!”

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11 Responses to “MacNamara out as Scott chief-of-staff, Hollingsworth in”

  1. NFG Says:

    To bad he couldnt take the Gov. with him.

  2. Betty Says:

    This crony was making 189,000 and is a FSU professor too, how much is he getting paid at FSU, and we wonder why there is unemployment and the budget is bad. Republicans want to pick on folks like teachers, forget the entry level state worker, look at the fat cats on the top. This is shameful.

  3. Byproxy73 Says:

    “It is my belief that I have helped Floridians begin to know the real Rick Scott,” MacNamara wrote Saturday.

    Right. The real Rick Scott. The REAL Rick Scott is a felon who should be in prison, not in the Governor’s Mansion.

    McNamara leaves because of yet another scandal involving no-bid contracts and the potential damage it could do to Scott’s already “impeccable” reputation? Maybe he should stick around and face the music with his boss!

  4. Guy Says:

    These people make me sick! Cutting education funding while giving out no bid contracts to their friends. Scott needs to go!

  5. jac Says:

    The ony way Scott’s approval rating will change if he resigned. He even lost his voters confidence. one term governor,

  6. ozmo Says:

    We need to pressure the legal system to find out why the largest health care fraud in US history, orchestrated by Scott, ended with no one going to jail.

  7. Mike Says:

    So we now don’t mind the media making our decisions for us. They put pressure, people leave their jobs.

  8. muffey Says:

    He can now move to Montana permanently with the other skin heads, tea party haters and other racist groups. Montana and Mississippi hold the record for states having the most racist groups in America. Scott should join him. These idiots should never hold public office nor teach in the classroom.

  9. Jim Says:

    All Floridians should be ashamed that A person with such deeply questionable ethical flaws, who while CEO of a company which stole billions in taxpayer funds from the health care of sick citizens,was ever elected to any public office.
    For this kind of behavior to continue throughout the Gov.’s tenure should come as no surprise to anyone.
    For the Gov. to surround him self with individuals of similar character should also come as no surprise.
    Can anyone reasonably expect Adam Hollingsworth, who leads the right-of-way division for Flagler Development Group will be any different.
    Past behavior is a good predictor of future performance. Look for land use, sale of public lands and facilities and more coney corrupt deals.
    We get what we vote for.

  10. Searcher Says:

    Thank God for “media attention”. The cockroaches run when he lights are turned on!

  11. kelly Says:

    Hard to believe Scott’s new approval ratings based on the comments here. More and more fudging of the numbers with little fact-checking. Everyone pushing their “facts” to support an agenda. The media have let us down. Real reporting is a dying profession; being replaced by tabloidism. Sad.

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