By Eric Daugherty
March 23, 2022 Updated 2:07 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FCV) – As President Joe Biden appoints Kentaji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States based on skin color and gender, it is being highlighted that Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive agency heads have strong black representation.
DeSantis, however, did not make his executive appointments on the basis of skin color.
Biden repeatedly vowed that an appointment to the Court would be a black woman, saying in February of 2020 that he is “looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court,” as opposed to bypassing superficial characteristics in favor of qualifications.
DeSantis’ appointments make the composition of Florida’s 18 executive agencies out to be 28% black – 5 out of 18.
The appointments include Dr. Joseph Ladapo (Department of Health), Shawn Hamilton (Department of Environmental Protection), Shevaun Harris (Department of Children and Families), Simone Marstiller (Agency for Health Care Administration), and John F. Davis (Florida Lottery).
A sixth appointment is Corey Simon, the head of Volunteer Florida, a public-private agency in which the Florida governor appoints the Chief Executive Officer. Simon was appointed in December, 2020.
DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told FCV that these appointees are not chosen because of a diversity quota or skin color, but for their qualifications.
“Governor DeSantis rejects identity politics and always strives to choose the best individual for a job or appointment, regardless of skin color or other superficial characteristics,” she said.
“In Florida, a significant proportion of qualified candidates for agency head positions happened to be black, but that’s not why they were appointed – they were appointed because they were the best people to do those particular jobs. Florida is a diverse state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed on the merits.”
For example, recently embattled by state and national Democrats, Surgeon General Ladapo received the ire of mainstream media outlets like Politico who called the appointment of the Nigerian-born Harvard doctor as “controversial” and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried calling him an “anti-science quack who doesn’t belong anywhere near out state’s Surgeon General office.”
DeSantis did not accuse Ladapo’s harsh critics of racism.
In DeSantis’ announcement of Ladapo’s appointment in September, 2021, he did not mention Ladapo’s skin color as a reason for appointment, contrasting with Biden’s pick for Supreme Court.
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