Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Peter Antonacci to head a newly established elections fraud office in July 2022. Tragically, Antonacci passed away inside the Capitol building just a few months later.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis named Peter Antonacci as the head of a newly established elections fraud office in July 2022. Unfortunately, just a few months later, Antonacci tragically passed away inside the Capitol building.
According to a recent report by a local watchdog group, Florida’s highest-ranking election fraud officer suffered a collapse in the hallway of the governor’s office after a contentious meeting last year. Shockingly, he remained unattended for a staggering 24 minutes before receiving any assistance.
Peter Antonacci, the leader of Florida’s recently established elections fraud office, sadly passed away on September 23, 2022, at the state Capitol building.
Initial reports about his death were lacking in details, simply stating that he passed away due to a heart attack “while working in the Capitol building.” His wife revealed that the 74-year-old had a well-documented medical history of heart disease and cardiac issues.
The Florida Bulldog, an independent online watchdog group that monitors state politics and government, released a law enforcement investigation into the death on Sunday.
Antonacci’s death is further illuminated in a comprehensive 17-page investigation, obtained via a public records request. The report provides more details, revealing that Antonacci had recently departed from a heated meeting with several high-ranking state officials in Governor Ron DeSantis’ office.
What’s in the records?
According to the investigation, Antonacci had been meeting with a total of 11 individuals. Although only a few of them have been specifically identified by name, the list includes:
- James C. Byrd, Florida’s secretary of state
- Bradley McVay, Byrd’s general counsel
- Scott McInerney, a director of executive investigations with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FLDE)
- Shane Desguin, FDLE chief of staff
- Mark Glass, FDLE commissioner
- Ryan Newman, FDLE general counsel
- Scott Strauss, Antonacci’s deputy
DeSantis did not make the list of attendees.
According to Desguin, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “an election topic.” However, other items on the agenda were redacted from the records. The records also mentioned the presence of surveillance video, but it was not included in the public records release.
Many of the attendees provided investigators with a consistent description of Antonacci’s demeanor.
According to Glass, Antonacci appeared to be agitated during the meeting. McInerney described the discussion as a back and forth exchange involving everyone present, and mentioned that Antonacci abruptly stood up and left. Desguin noted that Antonacci seemed frustrated at times and left after approximately 30 minutes of discussion.
Antonacci left the conference room around 1:46 p.m. ET, as captured by surveillance video. The footage reveals him staggering and eventually collapsing to the floor, hitting his head on a door frame during the fall, according to investigators.
No one came to his aid for another 24 minutes.
As Glass was conversing with his general counsel in the hallway, he suddenly noticed a peculiar sight. There, around the corner, he spotted what seemed to be Antonacci’s slacks and shoes, lying with their toes pointing downwards. This incident was documented in his account of the events.
Antonacci was discovered by Glass to be pulseless and looking blue in the face, prompting him to immediately initiate chest compressions.
Glass summoned Desguin, causing him to hastily exit the conference room, fearing the presence of an active shooter. Reacting to the situation, Desguin swiftly drew his firearm, while the individuals in the conference room sought safety beneath the table.
Upon examining the situation, Desguin immediately instructed someone to dial 911. He then proceeded to administer CPR and retrieve an AED machine and an “Ambu Bag,” which is an artificial breathing device.
Capitol police and EMS personnel also attempted to use the AED machine, but the device did not show that a shock was necessary, according to investigators. Antonacci was taken to a nearby hospital, where medical staff declared him deceased. No autopsy was conducted.
According to the records, investigators have clearly stated that there is no indication of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
What has Antonacci’s office been investigating?
In February, The Bulldog requested the records after receiving a tip about Antonacci’s death following an argument with DeSantis. However, upon reviewing the records, there was no mention of the governor involved in the incident.
The governor’s office was requested for comment by NPR, but no response was received by the time this article was published.
In 2022, DeSantis gained legislative approval to establish the Office of Election Crimes and Security. This move came at a time when former President Donald Trump persisted in promoting allegations of widespread election fraud.
The governor personally selected Antonacci, who previously served as the election supervisor for Broward County, to lead the initiative against election fraud, despite the fact that such fraud is extremely uncommon in the state. Governor DeSantis himself commended the integrity of Florida’s elections in 2020.
The office has primarily concentrated on ex-felons who were issued voter registration cards following the approval of a state ballot initiative.
Judges have mostly rejected efforts to prosecute these voters, as they believe the state cannot penalize individuals for committing election fraud when they were initially deemed eligible to vote.