Progressive organization doles out failing grades to Rick Scott
On the same day the state announced high school grades, a progressive group discussed its grading of Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Florida For All, a group backed by the Democratic Governors Association, gave Scott failing grades nearly across the board. Supporting public schools, creating jobs and keeping promises, minority and Hispanic outreach, managing his employees, and public health: all Fs.
The organization did give Scott one A+, for “protecting special interest.”
“I call them corporate interest because to me the special people are our children, our workers, our public education system,” said Barbara DeVane, a well known Democratic activist in Tallahassee.
Florida for All launched in June as a political action committee after the Legislature’s campaign finance reforms caused the Florida Governance Fund, a CCE, to close. The Governance Fund's money came mainly from the Democratic Governors Association, and it's balance, $671,934, was transferred this summer to Florida for All.
The organization says its mission is to protect and promote the interest of Florida’s seniors, children and middle-class families. However, the main target appears to be Scott.
About 10 activists showed up to today’s press conference to criticize past cuts to education spending and Scott’s current request that state agencies find additional reductions. DeVane also used the Times/Herald’s recent special report to attack Scott’s job creation track record.
Tazh Hall, another Democratic activist, panned Scott’s record with minorities. The governor’s refusal to fight for Medicaid expansion, voter purges and turnover among agency heads and inner staff all represent his short-comings, Hall said.
“Simply put, our governor makes poor choices,” Hall said.
The press conference had some odd moments, including a man whose role consisted of jotting down DeVane’s bullet points on a dry erase board. Then the group “dropped off the report card” by way of reciting talking points to the receptionist in Scott's office.
Things got a bit tense when reporters asked questions near the end. Would they be just as critical of former Republic governor and now Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, who accepted donations from the same special interests that Scott has? Were they supporting any particular candidate or cause?
Both DeVane and Hall cut off the questioners to insist they weren’t there to push for any particular candidate but to focus on Scott’s track record. They both distanced themselves from the organization, saying "I'm not Florida for All," even though they stood among people holding up blue signs with the group's logo.
Florida for All spokesman Neal Waltmire said the public could glean the organization’s affiliations and funders by looking it up online.
UPDATE: Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, sent over this reaction to Florida for All's press conference:
“These extreme liberals can continue throwing out false attacks like spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, but the fact is that under Rick Scott nearly 441,000 private-sector jobs have been created, state-based education funding is at the highest level in Florida history, schools are improving, and the unemployment rate is dropping.”