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Ron DeSantis slammed by Florida’s largest newspaper in scathing article

Flordia’s largest newspaper is criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis for standing idly by as the University of Florida president appoints two high-ranking officers who will receive above-average pay while working remotely.

UF President Ben Sasse nominated James Wegmann and Raymond Sass, who worked with him when he was a Republican senator from Nebraska. Wegmann, Sasse’s former communications chief, is now UF vice president for communications, while Sass, Sasse’s former Senate chief of staff, has assumed the role of UF vice president for communications. innovation and partnerships. The university announced the appointments in a press release on September 26.

The Sentinel of the Sun, which ranks as Florida’s largest daily newspaper in terms of circulation, compared UF’s hiring practices to the political practices of DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. “At UF, Sasse’s cronyism fits perfectly with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ practice of political plundering,” The Sentinel of the Sun The editorial board wrote in an opinion piece Thursday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation October 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C. DeSantis was criticized by Florida’s largest newspaper for standing idly by while the University of Florida hires two senior officials to work remotely.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Wegmann’s salary will start at $432,000, while his predecessor Steve Orlando, who had been employed in media relations since the 1990s, received only $270,000 when he held the position on an interim basis, the student newspaper reported from UF, The Independent Florida Alligator. It’s also a big increase from the $181,677 he earned in 2022, during his last full year working for Sasse’s Senate office. Sass will also receive a significant pay raise of $396,000, more than double the $181,677 salary he earned during his last year working for Sasse’s Senate office.

The two new recruits will also have the luxury of not having to relocate for work. Sass will live in Maryland, the Alligator said, while Wegmann will live in Washington, DC. The Sentinel of the Sun said it was “virtually unprecedented in Florida” that university workers did not end up moving.

“It’s impossible to imagine that even Florida, in the DeSantis era, would allow a new university president to work remotely. It’s equally inappropriate for its top staff. But it suggests that Sasse “Maybe doesn’t want them to get too close to the faculty and staff who were there before him,” The Sentinel of the Sunl The editorial board declared.

The editorial board adds: “Working remotely can accomplish a lot, as the pandemic has demonstrated, but it does not promote collegiality. Nor does it demonstrate a personal investment in the company that pays his salary. »

UF faculty representatives showed support for the idea of ​​paying “high-performing” employees a good salary, but also showed some skepticism about who was chosen for these positions.

“I think it’s great that (Sasse) pays them so well, because it shows that he understands that it’s necessary to pay high-performing employees well in order to attract and retain them,” Danaya said Wright, president of the UF Faculty Senate, to The Alligator. “At the same time, I hope he will look at UF thoroughly and creatively and realize that there are already highly qualified and competent people here who have experience in higher education and deep knowledge of UF’s history and that it will also encourage them into equally well-paying positions.

Meanwhile, Meera Sitharam, president of the UF faculty union, said that top publicly funded positions must be advertised “widely and openly” and that “many candidates, even if solicited, must be selected and compared to be able to justify. the statement that “top talent” is being recruited. Sitharam added, “Otherwise there is no other name than cronyism. »

DeSantis is trailing Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who recently gained in the polls. Although Florida is DeSantis’ home state, Trump appears to be taking the lead in the Sunshine State. According to fivethirtyeight, a poll tracking site, Trump currently enjoys an average of 58.2% of voters, while DeSantis lags behind with 23.6%.

News week On Friday, I contacted UF, Ron DeSantis’ office, Wright and Sitharam via email for comment.