UPDATE : Thursday, April 14 — Suspended Broward Health Chairman David Di Pietro today announced his resignation for the hospital district’s board of directors. He offered no explanation. On Monday, a judge ordered Gov. Rick Scott to reinstate Di Pietro. Scott has appealed that ruling.
UPDATE: Tuesday, April 12 – Gov. Rick Scott late today appealed Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips’ order that he must reinstate suspended Broward Heath Chairman David Di Pietro.
The appeal would likely prevent Di Pietro’s return to the board before its next regular meeting on April 27.
The notice of appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach offered no immediate grounds to overturn Phillips’ Monday order. The appeal is being handled by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Di Pietro said, “I am confident Judge Phillips’ well-reasoned decision will be upheld and this is nothing more than a stall tactic by Gov. Scott.”
By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A Broward Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that Gov. Rick Scott overstepped his authority when he suspended Broward Health Chairman David Di Pietro, ordering the governor to reinstate him immediately.
Di Pietro was suspended by Scott for alleged malfeasance. But Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips’ seven page order concluded that Scott’s executive order of suspension was “devoid of any specific acts of malfeasance” against Di Pietro.
In her order, Phillips said that if Gov. Scott wants to try again to oust Di Pietro his “executive order must comply with Florida law.”
In an interview, Di Pietro said he intends to return to return to the board and continue to serve as chairman. Some had speculated that Di Pietro might use a win in court to declare victory and announce his resignation.
In a written statement, Di Pietro added, “I am pleased and gratified at the Judge’s ruling reinstating me to the Board of Commissioners at Broward Health. Judge Phillips’ order overturning Gov. Scott’s Executive Order is vindication of my service at Broward Health.
“Based on the judge’s ruling, I call on Governor Scott to lift his Executive Order against my fellow Commissioner Lt. Colonel Darryl Wright.”
Scott suspended Wright and Di Pietro on March 18 after the state’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, expressed “grave concerns” that Broward Health board members might be interfering with her ongoing review of contracts at the agency.
Miguel began her review in the wake of the Jan. 23 suicide of Broward Health Chief Executive Dr. Nabil El Sanadi.
Di Pietro, first appointed by Scott to Broward Health’s board in September 2011, challenged the governor’s authority to suspend him in a lawsuit filed four days after his suspension.
A hearing was held on Friday at which Gov. Scott was represented by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
Judge Phillips’ order says that her review of the case determined that Miguel’s March 18 letter to the governor recommending the removal of Di Pietro and Wright was deficient in a number of ways. Most importantly, it did not provide specifics about what Di Pietro had allegedly done wrong.
The letter’s statements “do not rise to the level of malfeasance such that the court could sustain the executive order,” the judge wrote.
Di Pietro hopes Scott will quickly reinstate him.
“I am proud of my record of fighting corruption at Broward Health, and with my reinstatement, I intend to continue to champion multiple transparency and accountability reforms.”