TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov Rick Scott named his own General Counsel, Jesse Panuccio, on Thursday to head the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
Panuccio replaces Hunting Deutsch, who resigned Monday after it was revealed he collected unemployment benefits while taking several trips across Europe.
Scott had said Deutsch's decision to step down was for the best of the state because the department he ran should be focused on pairing Floridians with jobs.
Panuccio is a graduate of Harvard Law School and joined the Scott administration in early 2011 as deputy general counsel. He was elevated to general counsel in 2012. In Panuccio's career with the Executive Office of the Governor he has helped coordinate litigation and legal policy across state agencies, advised the governor on over eighty judicial nominations and served as the governor's chief ethics officer.
Panuccio will continue his role as the governor's general counsel through Jan. 7. He will be replaced by 15th Circuit State Attorney Peter Antonacci, who already has a long career in public service. He has been Florida's Statewide Prosecutor, and before that was an assistant state attorney in the Second Judicial Circuit.
From 1991 to 1997, Antonacci was deputy attorney general for then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth. He also served on numerous judicial nominating commissions, as well as the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Antonacci was already appointed by Scott to fill the unexpired term of state attorney in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.
While in private practice, Antonacci continued to be involved in high-profile cases as a lawyer and lobbyist. In 2002, he represented then-Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter who was facing charges of prescription fraud.
Arek Sarkissian, Tallahassee Democrat