TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida are turning the effort to remove noncitizens from voting lists into a political fundraising appeal and are attacking President Barack Obama, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, former Gov. Charlie Crist and others along the way.
But Scott says the effort that once questioned the citizenship of as many as 180,000 registered voters isn't about politics.
"You see, unlike President Obama's allies, I don't view the world through a partisan lens," says a letter mailed by the party and signed by Scott. "I'm appalled that so many Democrats have stepped up to defend the right of non-citizens to cast ballots in Florida."
The letter tells donors if they agree with Scott's voter purge, to send a check to the Republican Party of Florida.
The Florida Democratic Party said the state GOP shouldn't be using the purge to raise money when it's been involved in its own voter fraud problem. The state GOP recently fired a firm it hired to register voters when it was revealed forged registration forms were being turned in.
Scott wouldn't answer questions about the fundraising appeal.
"You'll have to talk to the Republican Party of Florida," he said, repeating his response when told his name was on the letter and asked if he approved it.
Scott first pushed last year to have the state look for non-U.S. citizens on the rolls. The state initially compared a list of driver's licenses with voter registration data and came up with a potential list of 180,000 voters suspected of not being citizens.
That list was pared back to a much smaller one of more than 2,600 registered voters that was sent to county election officials this past spring. Many election supervisors, however, did not wind up removing anyone after questions about the accuracy of the list arose — hundreds of voters turned out to be citizens. The list is now down to about 200 after the state reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to screen names on a federal immigration database.