Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Backstory

Message-driven Gov. Rick Scott's answers dodge the questions (Jan. 10, 2014): tbtim.es/5d4

Rick Scott's nonanswers bring national ridicule 07/16/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Nearly 1 in 4 Tampa Bay homeowners considered equity rich

    Real Estate

    If your home is worth at least 50 percent more than you owe, you're rich — equity rich that is.

    About one in four Tampa Bay homeowners are considered "equity rich." [Associated Press file photo]
  2. Trump strategist Steve Bannon: No military solution in North Korea

    National

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon says there's no military solution to the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, despite the president's recent pledge to answer further aggression with "fire and fury."

    Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist to President Donald Trump, has drawn fire from some of Trump's closest advisers. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  4. Dunedin man accused of possessing child pornography

    Crime

    DUNEDIN — A 57-year-old man was arrested Wednesday, accused of intentionally downloading child pornography, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Richard Beal Anger, 57, of Dunedin faces 11 counts of possession of child pornography. [Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Pence cuts short Latin America trip and pressures Chile to sever all ties to North Korea

    Politics

    SANTIAGO, Chile — Vice President Mike Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Donald Trump and the national security team.

    Vice President Mike Pence urged Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to take a tougher stand against North Korea on Wednesday in Santiago, Chile.