Friday, November 17, 2017
Politics

After questions, Gov. Scott cancels $25,000 alligator hunt fundraiser

RECOMMENDED READING


TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott decided that using live alligators as fundraising bait wasn't such a great idea after all.

Without explanation, Scott's re-election campaign on Tuesday abruptly called off a planned "private gator hunt" in New Smyrna Beach on Oct. 18 for donors willing to pay $25,000 a head. The invitations said, "Space is limited."

Word of the gubernatorial gator gambit quickly went viral on social media and prompted questions about how the state would issue permits for it, not to mention the imagery of Scott campaign donors stalking a reptile that, despite its menacing image, has long been an unofficial symbol of Florida.

"The event has been canceled," said John French, a Tallahassee lawyer who serves as chairman of Scott's campaign effort, known as Let's Get to Work. He declined to elaborate.

Scott was no help either. At a Broward College event in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday to promote his call for tax cuts, he brushed off questions and told a reporter to call the Republican Party of Florida, which had no role in the event.

The gator hunt and its quick demise were picked up by the Huffington Post, which reminded its readers of a Miami New Times article in 2011 in which Scott told state fish and game employees that he was not especially fond of alligators.

"I don't want to be close to them that much," said Scott, who wears boots made in part from alligator skin. He added that he would be "receptive" to shooting one if that would promote the state's image.

On Twitter, former Republican state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland questioned how Scott's campaign could put on such an event, with limits on the number of alligator permits in the state.

"This raises a few questions. Usually licenses/permits done by lottery. How do they get enough for all donors?" Dockery tweeted.

Alligators are a federally protected species. State law limits Florida's alligator hunting season from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1, managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Alligators can be captured only by people with state permits, which are issued by a random drawing, to a maximum number of 5,000. (Today is the last day to apply for a permit this year.)

Each permit entitles a person to catch two gators. The permit costs $272 — presumably no problem for someone willing to donate $25,000 to a political campaign.

Miami Herald staff writer Amy Sherman contributed to this report. Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Updated: 2 hours ago

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

Jose Vazquez, Democratic nominee in the Dec. 19 state House District 58 special election, doesn’t seem like a criminal. He’s 43, divorced with six children, and has worked as a security guard and in auto recycling. He was a high-level political field...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Published: 11/17/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y. — Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t ...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.The allegations ag...
Published: 11/16/17
Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore won a reprieve in his struggle to survive as a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday when the Alabama Republican Party affirmed it would continue backing him despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers."Judge Moore ...
Published: 11/16/17