Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, known for establishing a more transparent government, died Thursday morning in Tallahassee. He was 85.
Askew was admitted to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare on Saturday following a recurrence of pneumonia, and suffered a stroke shortly after.
He served as governor from 1971 t0 1979. He was the first governor in Florida history to serve two consecutive terms.
Jim Williams, who served as lieutenant governor during Askew’s second term, said Askew was governor during a critical period.
Askew was considered an advocate for environmental, judicial and taxation issues in the 1970s. He was responsible for establishing a corporate tax and lowering consumer taxes.
He also pushed for more transparency in government through the “Sunshine Amendment,” which required full disclosure of campaign finances by public officials and candidates.
Bob Graham served as a state senator under Askew and later succeeded him as governor. He said Askew’s integrity and openness, particularly with his selection of judges, characterized his time as governor.
“He, more than anyone else, was responsible for the reforms which had made Florida’s judicial system a model for the country,” Graham said.
Askew also championed racial and gender equality. He appointed Joseph Hatchett, the first black Florida Supreme Court Justice.
David Colburn, the interim director of the Bob Graham Center and the executive director of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society said Askew was an agent of change.
“Reubin Askew helped modernize Florida, helped bring it into the 20th century by combatting racial segregation and racial hostility, by opening up doors for minorities and women, by giving Floridians confidence and faith in the integrity of their government and by believing in the future of the state,” Colburn said.
Ron Sachs, who served as the deputy press secretary and chief speech writer from 1976-77, said Askew woke up every single day trying to do the right thing for the state.
“He is the end of an era.” Sachs said. “That was the Golden Era of modern Florida politics.”