Interim FDLE chief to stay in position

The incoming and outgoing governors choose Gerald Bailey, who didn't apply for the job.

Published December 6, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - The governor who's going and the governor who's coming have agreed on the man to run the state's largest police agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The man who got the job didn't even apply for it.

Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov.-elect Charlie Crist on Tuesday handed the job to Gerald Bailey, who has been FDLE's interim commissioner for the past seven months. He earns $128,750 a year.

Bush and the Cabinet ratified the decision in a public meeting.

Bailey promised Bush when he took the FDLE job on an interim basis in May that he would not "campaign" to keep it, Bailey said, but Bush freed him from that pledge two weeks ago. Bailey was not among 56 applicants for the FDLE post.

Crist said it was his idea to recruit Bailey, whom he called "a consummate professional, as ethical as they come."

"I approached him. He didn't approach us," Crist said. "That's sort of reverse campaigning, if that's the term."

Bailey had been the Florida Lottery's inspector general for seven years when he was chosen in May to replace Guy Tunnell, a former Bay County sheriff who resigned in the aftermath of a series of controversies.

Bailey, 59, started his law enforcement career as a state trooper in North Carolina in 1968. He joined the FDLE in 1970 and worked his way up the ladder as special agent, supervisor, crime lab chief, division director and inspector general.

He left the FDLE for six years in the 1980s to run a family craft-book publishing concern, Country Cross-Stitch Inc.

Before getting the permanent job, Bailey underwent a Level 2 background check, which included criminal, civil and credit histories and a drug screen, the governor's office said.

Tunnell was hired without a background check.

Also on Tuesday, Crist announced that the new inspector general in the governor's office will be Melinda Miguel, who held similar posts for him as attorney general and commissioner of education.

Times researcher Deirdre Morrow contributed to this report. Steve Bousquet can be reached at 850 224-7263 or bousquet@sptimes.com.