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Governor & Candidate Rick Scott: Finances, Irma, Pay to Play and More: Another Controversial Week

BY Nate Evans

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott had another controversial week: there was a bombshell about secret financesl; pay to play with official appointments; outstanding questions about Hurricane Irma response; continued attacks on quality affordable healthcare; and blatant lies about water management districts.

This week, new reporting from the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times has revealed that Rick Scott has a financial stake linked to Florida’s high speed rail project he’s backing.

• The Herald/Times story was followed by reporting by the Associated Press which detailed how, "Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who killed a major publically-financed high-speed rail project in his first year in office, has invested with his wife in a fund that has links to a private company building a new high-speed rail line."

• The TCPalm and NPR also reported on the Scott's stake in the high-speed rail line.

• The next day, a blistering Tampa Bay Times' editorial, which shined a light on how Scott has taken actions as governor to benefit his own bottom line. The editorial put it bluntly, "Scott is a walking conflict of interest."

• Last week, Politico  released a report , showing  that Ann Scott, Rick Scott's wife, "gave a six-figure personal loan to an accountant working at the firm that manages the blind trust," adding, "The governor's wife having an active financial relationship with a staffer at the firm that manages his blind trust once again raises the question: How blind is Scott's blind trust?"

• The same day, the Associated Press reported on how "a series of news reports in the last few weeks have raised questions about Scott's investments, including that his wife loaned money to an employee of the firm managing Scott's blind trust."

These are just the latest in a series of reports, all of which raise mounting questions about Rick Scott's secret financial account.

Scott appoints donors to official boards and commissions

A new report from GateHouse Media found that Rick Scott has taken over a million dollars in campaign donations from those who he appointed to state boards and commissions. Here are some key points from the damning report which blanketed front pages around the state on Sunday morning: 

• "Scott has collected close to $1.4 million from 127 appointees, their spouses and children, who have given either to his Senate campaign or the New Republican PAC supporting his bid."

• "Some of Scott’s biggest contributors earlier were handed coveted spots."

• "It shows how the broad reach of the governor’s power can be used to advance his political future."

• "Those who give deny that there’s any link between their appointments and the checks they cut for Scott’s Senate bid. But the campaign data shows a remarkable correlation."

Pay-to-Play

• "It smacks of pay-to-play,” said Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, a government watchdog organization."

Sun-Sentinel editorial: Scott still needs to answer for his Hurricane Irma response.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a blistering editorial on Rick Scott's response to Hurricane Irma, writing "Scott would like to control the narrative about his performance. But the record is undercutting that attempt... In retrospect, however, Scott wasn’t much of a leader." Here are some other key points from the editorial:

• "I’ll return your phone calls,” he told supporters at a rally last month. If that pledge sounds familiar, it should. We heard it from Scott before Hurricane Irma. The governor gave out his cell phone number and promised a quick response. Yet no help came when the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills called. Irma had knocked out the nursing home’s power. Without air conditioning, temperatures were rising. Twelve patients died."

• "Similarly, he would like to control the narrative about his performance. But the record is undercutting that attempt. Let’s start with calls to that cell phone. Scott’s office deleted them."

• "Just because they could delete (the voicemails) doesn’t mean they should delete them,” said First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen. “These were important; people died."

• "Then there is Scott’s action on contracts for debris removal in Monroe County, where Irma made landfall." ... "Scott still has offered no credible explanation for overriding local officials and approving the much more expensive contracts." ... "Scott then enabled price-gouging to occur."

• "Finally, Scott chose as the state’s emergency management director a former campaign aide who has just two years of relevant experience."

Washington Post eviscerates Florida and other states for "running the ‘repeal and replace’ scam all over again."

column in the Washington Post slammed Rick Scott's administration in Florida for their actions to strip healthcare protections from millions of Floridians, saying "You’d think that after the debacle they suffered last year when Republicans in Congress tried to repeal the ACA, they would have learned their lesson. But they’re storming ahead, and Republicans running for Congress are going to pay the price." Here are some other key points from the column:

• "Polls have repeatedly shown that when you ask voters what they care about most in considering their vote for Congress this fall, the most-commonly-mentioned issue is health care."

• "Oral arguments are now scheduled in federal court for Sept. 10 in a lawsuit brought by a group of conservative states... that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act." ... "The lawsuit makes a claim that could charitably be called audacious."

A Horrible Environmental Record

Rick Scott continues to run away from his horrible environmental record by lying to Floridians. This week, PolitiFact confirmed that Rick Scott did indeed cut $700 million from Florida's water management districts, and that "the governor has the final say to approve or disapprove water management district budgets in whole or in part. So if the governor doesn’t like a specific item in a district’s budget, he or she can veto it."

 • Mere hours after PolitiFact's story, Rick Scott lied to Floridians in a press gaggle, stating, "water management districts set their own budgets."

• Scott knew very well he was lying. He personally claimed responsibility for the water management district budget cuts in the past, like he did in a weekly address in 2011, bragging about taking action on "a reduction of more than $700 million."

• Last week, Scott also lied to his constituents to avoid discussing how his actions created the current algae crisis. In Stuart, his staff cited "security concerns" to prevent Scott from speaking with reporters or local residents effected by the blooms. Later, his staff admitted there was no security concern, but instead confessed that Scott had to go campaign in Tampa.

Graphic by the Observer; Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

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