From The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE -- General Counsel Jesse Panuccio will take over as secretary at the Department of Economic Opportunity in the wake of the agency's director's resignation, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday. Replacing Panuccio as the governor's top lawyer will be Pete Antonacci, a former deputy attorney general who most recently had been named to a fill out a term heading the Palm Beach County state attorney's office. Panuccio, a Harvard law graduate, takes over at DEO for Hunting Deutsch, who announced earlier this week he was quitting in the wake of scrutiny over his acceptance of unemployment compensation after he was downsized out of a bank job. During the time, however, Deutsch had millions of dollars in property and travelled extensively, including in Europe. Panuccio was named general counsel in 2012 after serving since early 2011 as deputy general counsel. He's argued for the state in a number of high profile cases, including arguing the federal appeal in the case over drug testing of welfare applicants. Previously, he worked at the Washington law firm of Cooper & Kirk on First and Second Amendment cases. He also was a law clerk for Judge Michael W. McConnell on the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. "Jesse’s unparalleled work ethic and intellectual capacity will be a much needed catalyst for progress at DEO – an agency that plays a critical role in our mission to create more jobs and opportunities for Florida families," Scott said in a statement announcing the appointments. "Jesse has skillfully represented our office and the people of Florida in important legal cases over the last two years and we are excited to have him devote his energy and skill to another vital part of state government." DEO is the state's economic development agency, responsible, among other things, for recruiting companies to come to the state. It also runs the state unemployment compensation system and compiles labor market data. Antonacci returns to Tallahassee where he worked as the statewide prosecutor from 1987 to 1990 and deputy attorney general from 1900 to 1997 under Attorney General Bob Butterworth. He also practiced law in Tallahassee with GrayRobinson from 2000 until earlier this year when he was named State Attorney for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County back in March to fill a vacancy for Michael McAuliffe, who resigned. "His decades of incredible legal experience and public service to the people of Florida will be an invaluable addition to our office," Scott said. Panuccio will continue in the general counsel's office through Jan. 7 and Antonacci will start Jan. 8. DEO Chief of Staff Darrick McGhee is currently working as interim director at DEO.