Gov. Rick Scott talks about Zika, open government and, of course, jobs, during St. Petersburg stop
ST. PETERSBURG - Gov. Rick Scott came to St. Petersburg Thursday afternoon to talk about his favorite topic -- jobs -- as he touted manufacturer Intellitech's decision to relocate its headquarters from "high-tax" Maryland to Florida.
But Scott spent much of a brief press conference afterward talking about his favorite topic: Zika prevention.
Fresh back from a trip to Washington, D.C., Scott said he's still upset that Congress has not passed a Zika funding bill, stressing that the $26 million allocated by the state isn't enough to fight the virus which is particularly threatening to pregnant women.
"The federal government, as you know, has not been a great partner. They need to pass a bill," he said. "I'm glad everyone is focused on it... but we need to get a bill passed today. We've got to stop the politics and get it done."
The governor also pointed to delays in getting aid from the Centers for Disease Control.
"I'm still waiting on stuff from the CDC. We need more lab support to get these tests out faster. They finally gave me some this week but we're going to need more," he said.
"I've been asking almost a month for more Zika prevention kits for pregnant women. CDC is not providing those yet. They're providing them to Puerto Rico but they're not providing them to Florida which I don't understand."
During his comments, Scott did not bring up the criticism he leveled in Washington against Sen. Bill Nelson who was among those opposing a funding bill last week that Democrats saw as an attack on Planned Parenthood. They had asked for a "clean" Zika funding bill.
Afterward the Times/Herald asked Scott specifically about his charges against the Florida senator. Scott, who is taking heat in Washington for attacking Nelson, didn't back off on why he was upset:
"Cause he voted against it," Scott said. "Think about it. He turned his back on Florida families. This argument about being a perfect bill. Do you think the Florida Legislature gives me perfect bills? ‘Governor: Let's get out all the provisions you don't like.'"
Is this an opening political salvo for what's widely anticipated as Scott challenging Nelson for his Senate seat in 2018?
"No," Scott responded. "It's just that they should not have voted against it in the Senate."
Among other issues:
• Scott said his office would review a request by Mark Ober, state attorney for the tampa district, to recuse himself from investigating a complaint against Attorney General Pam Bondi's acceptance of a political donation from Donald Trump while she was considering whether to investigate Donald Trump University. Ober asked for another state attorney to be appointed since he had worked with Bondi for nearly two decades.
Scott, though considering the request, insisted the issue had no merit: "I think it's a partisan issue."
• Scott said he was not directly involved in a decision to put a keypad lock to access for the Office of Open Government in Tallahassee, an office that had previously been open to the public. "IT was a decision on security made by FDLE and DMS," he said.