August 10, 2022

Very long-time determine in Florida governing administration Peter Antonacci has been tapped to direct Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new election-criminal offense investigation team.

DeSantis announced the Antonacci appointment as a result of a push launch on Wednesday. He will immediate of the new Business of Election Crimes and Security under the Section of State, reporting to Secretary of Point out Twine Byrd.

The Legislature voted this calendar year to make the place of work at DeSantis’ urging in a Republican-led drive to make sure “voting integrity” regardless of the in general arrangement that the 2020 election ran efficiently in Florida.

The legislation also imposes felony penalties for “ballot harvesting,” or delivering mail-in-ballots for several non-relatives customers, as perfectly as other constraints.

Antonacci has experienced a a long time-extensive history in Florida politics in a multitude of roles. The Phoenix formerly described that “governors due to the fact Bob Graham in the 1980s have turned to him for sensitive careers.” These have involved:

  • Director and main judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings
  • Broward County Elections Supervisor in 2018
  • General counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott
  • Deputy point out attorney standard underneath previous Legal professional Basic Bob Butterworth
  • Condition attorney in Palm Seaside County.

Leon Supervisor of Election Mark Earley claimed in a prepared assertion dispersed by the governor’s workplace that he trusts Antonacci “will serve the people of Florida with an even hand to guarantee the ongoing fairness and sanctity of our elections approach,” and that he “understands the complexities of election legislation and the need to have for a reserved and judicious software of the electrical power this new office wields.”

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‘Good choice’

Earley instructed the Phoenix that Antonacci was a “good choice” but that he stays skeptical about how the new elections investigation workplace could be misused.

“Time will tell how the place of work evolves,” stated Earley, who also serves as the president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections.

“We have some concerns, seeing how other states have prosecuted, and there’s not a lot of checks on what this business can do,” Earley said.

Earley mentioned that preexisting election statutes permit worries to the eligibility of a voter, but that filing a frivolous obstacle and complaint towards a voter is a criminal offense.

“But there’s no very similar language in the powers of investigation and factors like that location of statute with regards to this place of work,” he said. “It’s relating to to me because, probably, this could be utilized to intimidate voters — most likely.”

Early did say that he labored with Antonacci ahead of and that “he did a fantastic task as a supervisor of Broward County in the 2020 election.”

“I have higher regard for Pete Antonacci, and I believe he’s, probably, of all the choices that ended up out there, one of the better possibilities available,” Earley mentioned. “I really don’t know who was becoming regarded, but I imagine Pete’s, hopefully, on the appropriate monitor below with this and will do it very well.”

Pans from Fried

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to operate versus DeSantis for governor, referred to as the appointment “absurd” in a campaign e mail.

“Peter Antonacci is a Federalist Culture darling. His appointment by DeSantis is purely political,” Fried mentioned in a prepared statement. “We presently have fraud regulations on the publications that ought to be enforced. What we have to have is genuine nonpartisan election reform.”

The Federalist Culture is a conservative corporation that advocates for so-named “originalist” interpretations of the U.S. Constitution and other conservative guidelines. A lot of of DeSantis’s appointments have ties to the corporation.