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 November 29, 2023

Florida elections security director found dead after storming out of meeting with Ron DeSantis

Newly released records reveal that the body of Florida elections security director Pete Antonacci went undiscovered for at least 24 minutes before he was found dead at the state capitol, USA Today reported. The 74-year-old passed away suddenly after storming out of a meeting with Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and others.

Police records show that Antonacci left a conference room where he engaged in a contentious meeting on Sept. 23, 2022.  There were a total of 11 attendees, including DeSantis, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass and other officers, and Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

Also in the meeting was FDLE Director Scott McInerney, who reported that Antonacci seemed "agitated" before he "abruptly" got up and left the room. It's not clear what was being discussed or why Antonacci left without the others.

What FDLE does know from the surveillance video is that Antonacci was seen staggering out of the room before falling to the floor. He lay there for nearly half an hour without anyone noticing or coming to his aid.

He was discovered at 2:10 p.m. by Glass after he left the meeting to speak with Ryan Newman, DeSantis's general counsel. Glass began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, assisted by FDLE Chief of Staff Shane Desguin until rescue service arrived and took over.

Unfortunately, it seemed that Antonacci was already gone. Capitol Police attempted to use a rescue defibrillator on him to no avail as the "machine never indicated that a shock was advised."

That message could indicate that he was already dead by the time it was tried. When he was discovered, Antonacci reportedly had no pulse, and his skin looked "purple and blue," Glass told officials.

He may also have suffered an abrasion on his head in the fall. Antonacci was finally pronounced dead at the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he had been taken by rescuers.

DeSantis released a statement stating that he and wife Casey were "deeply saddened" by Antonacci's passing. "He was a dedicated, tenacious, and assiduous public servant, lawyer, and respected professional – a friend to all in the State of Florida," DeSantis said at the time.

No autopsy was performed, but investigators would later learn from Antonacci's doctor and wife that he had undergone several surgeries for cardiac problems. Still, those in the meeting with him did not observe him "having a medical issue."

Besides the physical issues with his heart, Antonacci was also under stress at his job. The Office of Elections Crimes and Security had come under fire the month before his death after arresting 20 Floridians for casting illegal votes in the 2020 election.

They had voted despite being ineligible because of past crimes, though they had been registered voters. Because they were mostly black, the left insinuated that the motives were a racist attempt at voter intimidation.

Prior to his death, Antonacci had been involved in Florida politics for years, working for both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was considered "Mr. Fix-It" because of his versatility and knowledge of the workings of the state government.

It's tragic and sad that Antonacci lay dead or dying without being discovered all that time. However, the gross attempt to smear the governor and his associates compounds this tragedy.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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