Sen. Darren Soto is asking questions about the departures this month of four Department of Environmental Protection lawyers, one of whom suggested the firings and resignations were made to the detriment of conservation goals.
The Orlando Democrat sent a letter to DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard Wednesday asking for documents related to attorneys Christopher T. Byrd, Kelly L. Russel, Teresa Mussetto, andChristopher McGuire.
Byrd and Russell were fired last week by DEP General Counsel Matthew Leopold in identical letters notifying them the office’s goals would be “accomplished more effectively by removing you from your positions.” The other two lawyers resigned, one of whom suggested to the media that it wasn’t by choice.
DEP has said the dismissals were part of a streamlining necessitated by the decreased volume of permits flowing through the agency since the Great Recession.
But Soto alleges in his letter that the layoffs are suspicious given the department’s “cozy” relationship with development interests under Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.