Tallahassee, Fla. — September 14, 2016
Dear University of West Florida Board of Trustees,
It is with great concern that the League of Women Voters of Florida writes today as you consider a leader who will determine both the future and the reputation of one of Florida’s best universities.
We are writing to question how former Senator Don Gaetz, who led a conspiracy to violate The Florida Constitution can even be considered for leadership in any of Florida’s esteemed organizations?
Former Senator Don Gaetz, took an oath to uphold and enforce the Florida Constitution and then presided over the Senate Reapportionment Committee in 2011 and 2012 as it engaged in a devious conspiracy to violate the Fair Districts provisions of the Constitution that was passed by a 63% threshold and over 3.1 million citizens in 2010. As Chairman of the committee responsible for drawing the Senate map, he publicly proclaimed that the legislature’s process for redistricting was following the new constitutional provisions even as legislators and staff were conspiring with outside political operatives to not only violate the constitution but also to hide the scheme from the public. How can you possibly consider appointing as president of your university this man who thumbed his nose at the constitution and lied about it publicly? Is this the sort of role model you want for students, faculty, families and the community?
This is a man who, as a Senator and Chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, took an oath to abide by the laws of The Florida Constitution. As Chair of this committee, maps were passed that were drawn without transparency and resulted in complete noncompliance to the law. Senator Gaetz then went on to lead the entire Senate as senate President 2013-2014 and maintained the body’s position throughout multiple court cases. Finally, on July 28, 2015, the Florida senate filed a Stipulation and Consent Judgement that states:
“The Florida Senate stipulates and agrees that the apportionment plan adopted by the Florida legislature on March 27, 2012 to establish Florida’s Senate districts violates the provisions of the Florida Constitution.” They admitted, “the Enacted plan and certain districts WERE drawn to favor political party and incumbents.”
They agreed the plan should NOT be enforced for the 2016 elections and agreed to redraw the map. They agreed no deference should be given to them.
Is it proper for the students of University of West Florida to be led by a president who took an oath to follow the Florida Constitution and then led a conspiracy to violate it? Is it fiduciary responsible to allow a man to oversee a university budget that purposefully spent over $10 million of taxpayer dollars in litigation costs and $1million in special session costs defending a process and maps that he presided over and was proven in court to be unconstitutional?
Is this the best that Florida can do? Is this the message that you want to send to the students, faculty and families and community of our great state?
We hope you will consider carefully the lesson that your selection will send to every citizen in the state of Florida. What happens in Tallahassee should not stay in Tallahassee, and we hope you will thoroughly re-acquaint yourself with the detailed public record of exactly what happened during his tenure of leadership of reapportionment and his Senate presidency during this carefully watched national story.
Pamela S. Goodman
The League of Women Voters of Florida
Sent to the Attention of:
Mr. Lewis Bear, Jr.
Mr. Mort O’Sullivan
Mr. Richard “Dick” Baker
Mr. Greg Britton
Mr. Dave Cleveland
Dr. Theodore “Ted” Fox
Mr. Robert “Bob: L. Jones
Ms. Suzanne Lewis
Rev. LuTimothy May
Mr. Jack Hebert
Mr. Jay S. Patel
Mr. Robert “Bob” Sires
Ms. Bentina C. Terry
Listen to podcast LWV Florida leader objects to Gaetz as UWF president.