The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott turns anti-Castro law into PR mess

Gov. Rick Scott began Tuesday morning as the darling of Miami’s Cuban exile community, but by day’s end he was being vilified for the way he handled a bill cracking down on companies that do business with Cuba and Syria.

Shortly after praising their fellow Republican for signing the law at the historic Freedom Tower, Cuban-American lawmakers at the event learned Scott issued a letter that essentially declared the law unenforceable.

The lawmakers — members of Congress, legislators and local commissioners — said Scott blindsided them and undermined the legislation, which prohibits state and local taxpayers from hiring firms that do work in Cuba and Syria. Multi-national firms and the Florida Chamber of Commerce worry about the law’s potential impact.

After a heated telephone conversation with Scott, Congressman David Rivera said he was ready to take the governor to court.

“As a Florida taxpayer who does not want my tax dollars going to companies that do business with terrorist regimes, I am more than willing to sue the governor and the state of Florida to force implementation of this law,” Rivera said.

“I’m sure the governor has been misled by his staff and hope he will reconsider his position so that it does not result in a lawsuit,” said Rivera, who later joined state lawmakers on Spanish-language radio to bash Scott, already a highly unpopular governor.

But Scott’s administration said the governor was clear Tuesday morning about the law when he appeared on a couple of Spanish-language radio stations. He said that, since this state law involves foreign trade, the president and Congress need to expressly authorize it.

“The way it works is, it’s not operative until the federal government passes legislation,” Scott told WQBA-AM (1140) an hour before the bill signing.

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Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 10:17pm]

    

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