The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott's robo-calls backfiring

As we first tweeted this morning, the Republican Party of Florida is robo-calling voters to drum up support for Gov. Rick Scott, who might be America's most-disliked governor, with a 29 percent approval rating. Now that a full day of calls are in, it appears that's just making some fellow Republicans upset.

The automatic, pre-recorded calls feature Scott's voice derided the hometown projects he vetoed from the budgets as "special interest waste." Not the kind of message that fellow Republicans, who crafted the budget, wanted to hear. Especially when those special interests included hungry and needy seniors, homeless veterans, paralysis victims, etc.

 Former Republican State Rep. J.C. Planas of Miami said he was called and was infuriated that needy projects were being described as waste. What's more, he said, the incoming number on his cell phone caller ID showed that it was his own number phoning in -- a process of disguising calls known as "spoofing."

"It's bad enough that he's hurting my community with these vetoes and misrepresenting the purpose of them," Planas said. "But then he's spoofing my phone? Why?"

No one in the Capitol can remember the last time a governor had to resort to robo-calling to drum up support. He also is urging supporters on Twitter and Facebook to support his vetoes (which kind of add up to $615 million) and call on legislators to plug some of the freed-up money back into education.

But Scott never mentions that he called for a bigger cut to education than the Legislature was comfortable with. Now he's flip-flopping on members of his own party and playing the blame game.

House Speaker Dean Cannon was irked that the calls suggested the Republican controlled Legislature skimped on education -- when it was Scott himself who called for a deeper cut. House Republican leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami was doubly bothered.

"The Republican Party of Florida is paying for this?" Lopez-Cantera asked. "That's interesting. I'm on the Republican Executive Committee and I'm Miami-Dade's state committeeman and no one gave me so much as a courtesy call that they were going to be doing this."

Lopez-Cantera was among the Republican representatives who wanted about $730,000 to feed needy seniors in Allapattah and Little Havana. Both line items were vetoed.

"This wasn't money for special interests," said Lopez-Cantera. "These are needy seniors."

There was some irony in Scott's strident stance against special interests when he announced the budget vetoes. Before his speech, he was preceded by representatives of some heavy-hitting special interests: a representative of The Villages development, Florida Chamber of Commerce lobbyist David Hart and National Federation of Independent Business lobbyist Allen Douglas.

Not every interest was represented at the event. Scott's office and RPOF staffers used sheriff's deputies to block Democrats from the event Thursday. The next day, Scott's office denied it had a role.

Maybe a new robo-call is in order to set the record straight there, too.

[Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 9:19pm]

    

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