The Phoenix Flyer

Reports: Newly picked FL Republican Party director had troubles in Washington

By: - August 26, 2019 1:46 pm

New RPOF Executive Director Peter O’Rourke. Wikipedia photo

The new executive director of the Republican Party of Florida is Peter O’Rourke, the website Florida Politics reports.

O’Rourke, a former Trump campaign official,  was forced out of his job in the Trump administration in 2018 for earning a $160,000 salary and not producing work, the Washington Post reported. Trump named O’Rourke as Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018.

After he was asked to resign, “O’Rourke said in an interview that he remains ‘very supportive of the president and the agenda of the Trump administration’ and would like to rejoin the administration,” the Post reported in Dec. 2018. “ ‘I’d be more than happy to serve again,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t appear there is a request at this time.’  He said he ‘does not hold any grudges.’

“Asked why he was getting paid to not work, O’Rourke said he was ‘available for anything the secretary asked me to do’ and acknowledged that ‘there were times I didn’t have a lot to do.’”

Gov. Ron DeSantis is praising the choice of O’Rourke to lead the Florida Republican Party, according to Florida Politics:

“President Trump holds Peter O’Rourke in high regards, and I am impressed with his experience and ability,” DeSantis was quoted in a written statement. “I look forward to working with Peter at the RPOF to help the President carry Florida and to win key House and Senate races. The President personally endorsed Peter, and I believe we will have a united front going into 2020.”

The Washington Post reported that O’Rourke’s standing in the Trump administration was buoyed by a controversial trio of unofficial advisers called the “Mar-a-Lago” crowd” – they are members of Trump’s Palm Beach club.  The investigative news operation ProPublica says the men exerted huge influence at the Veteran’s Administration since Trump took office, although none are veterans and none have worked in government. According to the Post and ProPublica, they are: Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and attorney Marc Sherman.

“O’Rourke drew unfavorable reviews on Capitol Hill from members of both parties after a dispute with the VA’s inspector general, who was denied records he sought from the accountability office,” the Washington Post reported, adding that “A Washington Post report on O’Rourke’s efforts to purge civil servants and some political appointees whom he and others installed by Trump deemed unsupportive of the president’s agenda drew calls for an investigation by Congress.”

As the Republican Party gears up for the 2020 electoral battle in Florida, Trump supporters are increasingly putting down roots in the Sunshine State. Trump’s 202 campaign manager, Brad Parscale,  moved from Texas to Fort Lauderdale.

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Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.