Florida CFO Jeff Atwater breaks with Gov. Rick Scott, wants new search for FDLE chief

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater became the first Cabinet member to fully break with Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday after calling for the reopening of the search for a new commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Two other Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, said they were reviewing their options. It was the strongest sign yet that all three elected officials, under fire for not questioning the forced resignation of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, are distancing themselves from Scott, now engulfed in a full-blown crisis barely two weeks into his second term.

Just last week, Atwater, Bondi and Putnam — all Republicans — unanimously supported Scott’s appointment of Rick Swearingen as the new FDLE commissioner.

Scott responded to Atwater’s letter later Tuesday night saying he wanted the Cabinet’s opinions as he seeks to replace heads of three key state agencies, including state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

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