ATLANTA -- Florida has begun a search for a new director of its division of bond finance following the recent departure of William Sweeney, according to a top aide to Gov. Lawton Chiles.

The division will begin placing advertisements for the job next week with a view to filling the position by the end of September, Daniel Fuchs, Chiles' deputy director of cabinet affairs, said yesterday.

Fuchs said that after Sweeney resigned in late June, the governor had considered waiting until after the November gubernatorial election before recommending Sweeney's successor, but then decided to move forward with the hire.

"The governor's attitude is that it's a professional position that needs to be filled and that we should go out and do it soon," Fuchs said.

Chiles, a first-term Democrat, is up for re-election Nov. 8,

Fuchs said a "high-level professional," preferably with experience in the securities markets, would be sought for the job. The division of bond finance manages issuance of all state-level debt in Florida.

The governor's staff hopes to begin conducting interviews by the end of August and hopes to present a choice to Florida's cabinet by its Sept. 27 meeting, Fuchs said. The seven-member group, which among its other duties oversees the division of bond finance, consists of the governor and the state's top administrative and elective officials.

The governor's aide said Chiles would continue to seek to "keep politics out of the division." He said that a new director would also be encouraged to continue Sweeney's policy of virtually eliminating negotiated sales of state-level deals.

In the meantime, Fuchs said, the division will be overseen by J. Timothy Tinsley, previously deputy director of the unit. On June 28, the day Sweeney resigned, the cabinet named Tinsley as its interim director. But under the guidelines hammeted out by the cabinet, Tinsley cannot be considered for the position of permanent director, according to Fuchs.

Sweeney had been director of the division since March 1991. He took over from Clement Mikowski, previously head of the division since 1985, who resigned at Chiles' request. Chiles, who took office in January 1991, had in the course of his gubernatorial campaign criticized the process by which bond syndicates have been chosen for negotiated state bond issues in Florida,

After his election, the new governor quickly made bond business reform a top priority. By the end of 1991, he oversaw the nation's first statewide ban on campaign contributions from investment bankers.

In addition, as a condition of being considered for employment, underwriters and bond lawyers have been required to pledge that they will not engage in informal communications with any state agency when they are being considered.

Sweeney's appointment in 1991 was his second stint as head of state-level bond issuance in Florida. He had been director between 1977 and 1983. He has also served as a consultant to the State Board of Administration.

Fuchs said that the Chiles Administration was surprised by Sweeney's resignation and sought to keep him on as director.

"We very much did not want him to leave and tried just about everything to get him to stay," Fuchs said. He added that Sweeney has agreed to be available to the division as a consultant.

According to sources close to Sweeney, he left to seek a higher salary in the private sector. Fuchs said the current salary of the directorship is between $82,000 and $86,000.

"Bill wanted to have an opportunity to pursue other interests, it's as simple as that," said Tinsley. He said that to his knowledge Sweeney has not yet accepted employment elsewhere.

Sweeney could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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