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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott lashes out at House Speaker Richard Corcoran (w/video)

7

February

Gov. Rick Scott lashed out at fellow Republicans in the Florida House on Tuesday, accusing them of not caring about jobs and of trying to kill his beloved corporate incentives and tourism marketing just to help House Speaker Richard Corcoran's political future.

During nearly 15 minutes of venting with reporters in Tallahassee, Scott ripped House Republicans for "lecturing" him about jobs and for proposing legislation that would kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, two agencies that are essential to Scott's political agenda.

When the House wants to stop Enterprise Florida, they are hurting our poorest communities. They're hurting our rural communities," Scott said. "We're seeing people that just want to run for higher office."

Scott's remarks were unprecedented in that they laid bare differences between Republican leaders in such a personal way and a month before the legislative session. Conflict between a governor and House speaker is common, and almost inevitable, but it usually comes later as the session winds down.

It almost always unfolds behind closed doors.

But there Scott lingered on Tuesday. Normally good for five minutes with reporters, Scott brooded over Corcoran.

Asked if a gubernatorial run was motivating the Land O'Lakes Republican, Scott replied: "What else can it be? How can anybody say they don't want to help a poor family get a job. The only thing that would be is politics. You would never think this way in business."

It's the second time in a week that the usually-mechanical Scott became more animated when talking about Corcoran and House Republicans. Last week, Scott seemed at a loss for words during a meeting in Orlando.

When reporters Tuesday tried to ask Scott a question about another topic, he said he didn't want to change the subject.

"This is so frustrating," he said. "I just don't understand how anybody can sit there and say they don't care about a person getting a job. It's shocking to me that anybody can even think that way."

A House subcommittee is scheduled today to hear a bill that would dismantle Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, which Corcoran has criticized for what he calls their wasteful spending.

Scott reminded reporters that he's built businesses and knows the difficulty of growing them, "now I have people who want to lecture me who have never done anything like this."

In response, Corcoran released a statement Tuesday afternoon that dredged up Scott's stated support in 2013 to expand heath care coverage, something House Republicans would later block.

"I think the Governor is a good man and a friend," Corcoran said. "However, we were elected to do what is right and clean up government, put an end to the waste of taxpayer money, and end the culture of corruption. The Governor cannot be surprised that we will do the right thing regardless of the consequences. Whether it is (Enterprise Florida), VISIT Florida, or Obamacare expansion, we never question the Governor's motives." 

(SCOTT KEELER/Times)

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 7, 2017 8:42pm]

    

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