|Florida Secretary of State|
|2002 - 2003, February 17, 2012 - present|
|Years in position (current service)||2|
|Years in position (previous service)||1|
|Predecessor||Kurt Browning (R)|
|Elections and appointments|
|Appointed||January 18, 2012|
|Appointed by||Gov. Rick Scott (R)|
|Bachelor's||Florida State University (1975)|
|Place of birth||Chicago, Illinois|
Detzner previously occupied the secretary of state's office for a short period in under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, during its transition from an elective cabinet post to a gubernatorial appointed post. Bush named Detzner his chief of staff until appointing him to serve as interim secretary of state. After Bush won re-election in 2002, Detzner served briefly as secretary before turning the office over to former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood.
Former state attorney general and secretary of state Jim Smith was Detzner's mentor early on in his career. Smith hired Detzer as an executive assistant specializing in drug legislation and then as finance director for his own 1986 gubernatorial campaign, in which he ran as a Democrat. This was two years after Detzer left the Democratic Party and registered as a Republican. Smith subsequently changed his party affiliation as well and is now a lobbyist for the GOP.
While on hiatus from holding political office, Detzner served as a governmental affairs and management consultant from 2003 to 2012. He developed a Hurricane Mediation Program for the Florida Department of Financial Services to resolve issues originating from the brutal 2004-2005 storm season, and advised the state's attorney general’s office on handling losses-claims from victims of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. His professional credits also include 13 years lobbying for the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association.
Detzner is native to Chicago, where his father worked for the railroad, but spent his portions of his summers visiting his aunt in Clearwater, Florida. In high school, he excelled in athletics and earned himself a basketball scholarship to college, but eventually quit playing when he realized he couldn’t balance sports and academics. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in political science from Florida State University in 1975.
During the summer of 1973, Detzner, still a college student, landed a job at Congressional Quarterly (then owned by the Times Publishing Company) contemporaneous with the Watergate Committee hearings leading up to Nixon's resignation. The job provided him with significant insight into the field of politics and contributed to his affiliation with the Democratic party, of which he was a member until 1984.
His former mentor was current Republican lobbyist and ex-Democratic Attorney General of Florida Jim Smith, who, as attorney general, hired Detzner to be an executive assistant specializing in drug legislation. Detzner was also the director of legislative and policy affairs in the Office of the Attorney General of Florida from 1979 to 1985. Smith then made Detzner finance director for his 1986 Gubernatorial campaign, when he ran as a Democratic candidate.
- Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Florida State University (1975)
Secretary of State (2002, 2012-present)
Detzner stopped by Governor Scott's office on a routine lobbying mission in early 2012 and was taken by surprise when Scott asked him to replace outgoing secretary Kurt Browning. After a requested 24-hours of consideration, he accepted the offer and was appointed on January 18, 2012. He called the appointment a "high honor" and made three pledges during his Senate confirmation hearing: “Number one, the agency will be run independent and fair to all parties. Number two, it will be transparent in all of the work we do. The third one is, that we run elections in Florida so that every eligible voter in Florida gets a chance to vote, and that their votes are counted.”
Voter roll review
Before resigning his post as secretary in early 2012, Kurt Browning (R) had been working for months to gain access to a federal immigration database which would allow Florida's elections division to accurately identify and remove ineligible voters from the state's voter rolls. Browning pursued this goal on the urging of Gov. Rick Scott (R), according to an account Browning gave the Associated Press in May 2012. At the time when Scott made his initial request for Browning to weed out non-citizens from the voter rolls, the only strategy Florida had in place for determining a resident's eligibility was to reference the state's drivers license database, a strategy which yielded inflated numbers, and in which Browning was not sufficiently confident to share search results with elections supervisors. His lack of confidence in the system led Browning to seek access from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to its tracking system for non-citizens. He was ultimately denied access.
When Browning resigned, he was still reluctant to pass on the information generated by the flawed drivers license system to the elections supervisors, for fear that acting on them would incite a "firestorm of press and criticism." When Detzner took over, he continued Browning's work, but did not continue in the same vein of restraint. "Although Mr. Detzner acknowledged the flaws in the database, he forwarded the names to county election supervisors." Detzner instructed the supervisors to send letters to those whose names turned up on the search, requesting they respond within 30 days with verification of their citizenship or else their names would be removed from the rolls.
Detzner's establishment of a 30 day window for suspected non-citizens to come forward with proof of eligibility has drawn accusations of discriminatory voter disenfranchisement by the U.S. Justice Department, and violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act due to the timing of the voter roll review being so close to an election. An article published in the New York Times on June 1, 2012 summarized Florida's recent attempts to prune its voter rolls, including Browning's account of his experience leading the charge as secretary. Though Browning cited the long commute as his reason for resigning, the article suggests that the voter roll review was also a factor: "Lacking confidence in the search, Mr. Browning resigned early this year."
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Ken + Detzner + Florida + Secretary"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- " Imagine That, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott and SoS Ken Detzner Are Still Trying ... - Brad Blog (blog)
- Paula Dockery: Allow early voting at UF's student union - Florida Today
- Clemens calls on Detzner to 're-evaluate unlawful decision' - The Florida Current
- Fishing exhibit planned for Museum of Florida History - The Ledger (blog)
- Gov. Rick Scott's Administration Gets Between Florida College Students and ... - Truthdig
- Lead Letter: Sequel to voter purge may be coming - Florida Times-Union
- Dems, ACLU Protest University Voting Decision - Sunshine State News
- PolitiFact: Did 2012 voter purge cost Florida taxpayers more than $100K? - News 13 Orlando
- Charlie Crist describes America's Cuba policies as bad for Florida - Tampabay.com
- Viva Florida Focuses on the First Coast in 2014/15 - Sunshine State News
- Florida Secretary of State
- Governor of Florida
- Gov. of Florida Rick Scott
- Former Florida Sec. Kurt Browning
- Florida Department of State "About the Secretary," accessed March 19, 2012
- The Miami Herald "New Florida secretary of state takes office at critical time," March 16, 2012
- The Tampa Bay Times, "Any voting issues in Florida will fall in Ken Detzner's lap," November 5, 2012
- Post on Politics "Scott hires Ken Detzner as new secretary of state," January 18, 2012
- WFSU.com "Detzner confirmed as Florida's new Secretary of State," February 27, 2012
- Associated Press "Rick Scott started push to non-citizens voter rolls," May 22, 2012
- The New York Times, "U.S. Justice Department asks Florida to end voter purge," June 1, 2012
- Florida Department of State, "About the Secretary," accessed August 4, 2012
Kurt Browning (R)
|Florida Secretary of State
| Succeeded by|