DeVos General Counsel Named to Fla. High Court

January 23, 2019

Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday named a top deputy of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a seat on Florida’s Supreme Court.

Carlos Muñiz had served as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Education since October 2017. A onetime deputy attorney general under former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Muñiz had more recently served as chief of staff to former state attorney general Pam Bondi.

During Muñiz's Senate confirmation hearing in September 2017, Democratic lawmakers questioned why, during his tenure, Bondi didn't investigate Trump University, the controversial real estate investment seminar owned by Donald Trump. Bondi had gotten a campaign donation from then candidate Trump before declining to pursue the investigation. Her office insisted there was no connection between the donation and her decision. A federal judge in 2017 approved a $25 million settlement between Trump and former students of the program.

Prior to working for DeVos, Muñiz had also done consulting and legal work on behalf of a for-profit college and both Florida State University and the University of Florida in their handling of high-profile sexual assault cases, Politico reported.

He had previously clerked for Judge José A. Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge Thomas A. Flannery of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. But he is the first state high court appointee in decades not to work as a judge. DeSantis noted that Tuesday but praised Muñiz's “intellectual firepower,” the Miami Herald reported.

DeVos tweeted congratulations on Tuesday, saying Muñiz will be “a steady hand for justice in Florida.” DeVos said she’ll “sorely miss Carlos’s unassuming yet convicted leadership in our ranks.”

She said Muñiz “has been a reliable friend of America’s students by implementing the law as it is written & providing trusted, principled counsel for @usedgov.”

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