Loss of life of official at Ron DeSantis’s workplace went undetected for twenty-four min : NPR


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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Peter Antonacci to steer a brand new elections fraud workplace in July 2022, only a few months earlier than Antonacci died contained in the Capitol constructing.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Peter Antonacci to steer a brand new elections fraud workplace in July 2022, only a few months earlier than Antonacci died contained in the Capitol constructing.

Jim Vondruska/Getty Photos

Florida’s high election fraud officer collapsed within the hallway of the governor’s workplace after a heated assembly, then lay lifeless or dying for twenty-four minutes earlier than somebody got here to his support, in accordance with a brand new report from an area watchdog group.

Peter Antonacci, who was appointed to steer Florida’s controversial new elections fraud workplace in July 2022, died on the state Capitol constructing weeks later, on Sept. 23, 2022.

Preliminary reviews of his demise had been scant on particulars, saying solely that he died of a coronary heart assault “whereas at work within the Capitol constructing.” The 74-year-old had a recognized historical past of coronary heart illness and cardiac circumstances, in accordance with his spouse.

On Sunday, a regulation enforcement investigation into the demise was launched by the Florida Bulldog, an unbiased on-line watchdog group that screens state politics and authorities.

The 17-page investigation, retrieved by way of a public information request, paints a fuller portrait of Antonacci’s demise, together with that he’d simply left a contentious assembly with a number of the state’s high officers contained in the workplace of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

What’s within the information?

The investigation states that Antonacci had been assembly with 11 folks, however just a few are recognized by title, together with:

  • James C. Byrd, Florida’s secretary of state
  • Bradley McVay, Byrd’s common counsel
  • Scott McInerney, a director of government investigations with the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement (FLDE) 
  • Shane Desguin, FDLE chief of workers
  • Mark Glass, FDLE commissioner
  • Ryan Newman, FDLE common counsel
  • Scott Strauss, Antonacci’s deputy

DeSantis was not named as an attendee.

The assembly was known as to debate “an election subject,” in accordance with Desguin, however different particulars on its agenda seem to have been redacted from the information. The information additionally comprise references to surveillance video (with out audio), however that materials wasn’t included with the general public information launch, the Bulldog reported.

A number of of the attendees provided investigators an identical account on Antonacci’s demeanor.

Glass mentioned Antonacci had been “agitated.” McInerney mentioned that the assembly contained a “backwards and forwards dialogue with everybody concerned,” and Antonacci “abruptly bought up from his seat and walked out.” Desguin mentioned that Antonacci had moments of being “pissed off” and left after roughly half-hour of dialogue.

Antonacci was seen leaving the convention room at roughly 1:46 p.m. ET. Surveillance video reveals him “staggering as he moved ahead till he collapsed to the ground,” placing his head on a door body on the best way down, in accordance with investigators.

It was one other 24 minutes earlier than anybody was seen coming to his support.

Glass had stepped out from the convention room and into the hallway to talk along with his common counsel when he caught sight of what seemed to be Antonacci’s slacks and footwear mendacity toes-down round a nook, in accordance with his account within the information.

Glass discovered that Antonacci didn’t have a pulse and appeared blue within the face, however he started doing chest compressions.

Glass known as for Desguin, who left the convention room considering there was presumably an energetic shooter on the premises. Desguin un-holstered his gun; these within the convention room began to maneuver below the desk.

However after assessing the scene, Desguin ordered somebody to name 911, tried CPR and retrieved an AED machine and “Ambu Bag,” a synthetic respiratory unit.

Capitol police and EMS workers additionally tried the AED machine, however the system “by no means indicated {that a} shock was suggested,” investigators mentioned. Antonacci was transported to an area hospital, the place he was pronounced lifeless by medical workers. An post-mortem was not carried out.

Investigators state clearly within the information that no foul play or suspicious circumstances seemed to be concerned.

What has Antonacci’s workplace been investigating?

The Bulldog mentioned it requested the information in February after receiving a tip that Antonacci had died following an argument with DeSantis, however the information comprise no point out of the governor.

NPR requested remark from the governor’s workplace however didn’t obtain a response by the point this text was revealed.

DeSantis established the Workplace of Election Crimes and Safety with legislative approval in 2022, as former President Donald Trump continued to hawk claims of widespread election fraud.

The governor hand-picked Antonacci, a former election supervisor for Broward County, to go the hassle to root out election fraud, though such fraud is exceedingly uncommon within the state. DeSantis himself praised Florida’s election integrity in 2020.

To date, the workplace’s work seems to have centered on ex-felons who obtained voter registration playing cards after a state poll initiative handed.

Judges have largely dismissed makes an attempt to prosecute these voters, saying the state cannot punish folks for election fraud after indicating they had been eligibil to vote.

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