Thursday, August 16, 2018
Politics

Rick Scott's nonanswers bring national ridicule

The governor's gone viral again.

Rick Scott, who ditched his adopted rescue dog Reagan after the 2010 election, and who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition, once again finds himself all over the Web and cable as the rest of the world discovers what Florida already knows.

He doesn't like to answer questions.

Name a subject, and Scott won't address it.

Climate change. Problems with the state's jobless claims website. How a sex offender slipped through the cracks and got a state license as a massage therapist. Amendment 1, the land and water proposal on the November ballot.

Scott might well revise his campaign slogan to "Let's Keep Working at Obfuscation."

His dilemma is that being ridiculed by national media outlets probably is not a surefire path to re-election. When networks use a big-state governor as a pinata, they're also making fun of the voters who put him in office and perhaps planting seeds of doubt in their minds.

Scott made CNN's "RidicuList," as Anderson Cooper said Scott's evasiveness "insults everybody's intelligence."

MSNBC, with its endless fascination for Florida politics, awarded him a place in its "Canned Response Repetition Hall of Fame."

Both channels ran the same video clip of Scott, eyes open wide, a frozen smile fixed on his face, dodging Tampa TV reporters asking why uniformed, on-duty sheriff's deputies were at a Tampa event promoting his re-election last week. It is illegal for public employees to engage in such activity, and illegal for anyone to coerce them into doing it.

"I'm very proud that last week, police chiefs endorsed me," Scott said earnestly, totally ignoring the question. "I'm very proud that 40 sheriffs have endorsed me."

That's a campaign commercial, not a serious reply.

With his very next breath, Scott said: "So we invite them to our campaign events and I'm very appreciative of the ones that came."

There it is: Scott said his campaign invites on-duty cops to campaign events that they should not attend.

The distinction between an official state event and a campaign event may seem a fine point, but to people who work for the taxpayers, it isn't. Hills­borough Col. Jim Previtera was insistent that he was told he was going to an event with Scott, standing at the governor's bully pulpit, talking about crime prevention.

Previtera has 30 years in law enforcement and his boss, Sheriff David Gee, has endorsed Scott's re-election. Why would he make up a story that might reflect badly on the governor his own boss is supporting?

Scott has significant support from sheriffs and police chiefs who like his record on law enforcement issues. But until November, he's going to have to promote that support someplace other than Tampa.

After the events of recent days, no Hillsborough deputy will want to be within 1,000 feet of the governor.

But if they want to see Scott, it won't be a problem. He's as close as the nearest TV, with a news anchor in the background, snickering.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected]m or (850) 224-7263.

Comments

Two Seminole council members face challengers

SEMINOLE — Six candidates have filed to run for two open seats on the City Council.Incumbents Chris Burke, first elected in 2012, and Trish Springer, elected in 2015, face challenges from former council member Dan Hester, who served from 2005 to 2010...
Updated: 4 hours ago
In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

As the Aug. 28 primary election approaches, three Republicans are battling to represent a Pinellas County Commission district that hasn’t witnessed a competitive contest for more than 15 years.State Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole and Kathleen Peters o...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as "misleading’’ and "ambiguity’’ and "wordsmithing.’’That’s...
Published: 08/16/18
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Published: 08/15/18
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco Political Notebook for Aug. 17

Republican Club hosts candidate forum at meetingThe West Pasco Republican Club will host an "Election Extravaganza" candidate forum at its meeting Aug. 21 at Heritage Springs Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway, Trinity. A social time will...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting Pasco County begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 25, with 11 locations across the county for voters.Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20-24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug...
Published: 08/13/18
Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candi...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

The political kerfuffle around Melissa Howard began when a news site reported that the Florida state House hopeful is not a college graduate, as she claims to be. To prove the story wrong, Howard, R, reportedly flew to her proclaimed alma mater, Ohio...
Published: 08/12/18
Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

The war is over, except no one in Tallahassee has bothered to read the news.And so Florida continues its daft fight against medical marijuana. All of which means patients are being left behind, voters are getting ignored, and lawyers are buying fanci...
Published: 08/11/18