The abrupt fall departure of Spencer Pylant, the Pasco County school district's first full-time lobbyist, left the administration scrambling for representation as lawmakers held committee meetings in advance of their early 2018 session.
Now the district, which has a fairly aggressive set of legislative priorities, has landed two Tallahassee veterans to help promote its views.
Superintendent Kurt Browning selected a group with Kim McDougal, Gov. Rick Scott's former chief of staff and legislative director, to advocate the district's positions through June. McDougal is senior government affairs director for GrayRobinson, a Tallahassee-based law firm that was one of three to interview for the part-time job.
Before joining Scott's staff, she worked in the Department of Education, and previously advised Jeb Bush.
"Because of the urgency to have representation for the upcoming committee week and session, this matter will not be brought to the Board for action," Browning told board members in a recent email. "It is well within the cap allowing the superintendent to act."
At the same time, district public information officer Linda Cobbe announced she has offered Pylant's old job to Wayne Bertsch, an Orlando-based independent government consultant.
A one-time Leon County Soil and Conservation District supervisor, Bertsch has worked on several political campaigns and spent 11 years as lobbyist for the Florida Home Builders Association.
"I think you'll all like him and we'll benefit from his experience and Tallahassee connections," Cobbe told the board in a separate email. "His start date will be January 8th, and he will immediately go to Tallahassee for the session."
His appointment must be approved by the board.