Friday, November 24, 2017
Politics

Bousquet: Democrats again target Rick Scott's silence under oath

RECOMMENDED READING


On a Saturday in late August 2010, a few reporters were on a Panhandle bus tour with Bill McCollum, the attorney general and Republican candidate for governor, who must have figured he had struck gold in opposition research.

McCollum was having trouble fending off Rick Scott's outsider message and millions of dollars in TV ads as part of their bitter primary fight.

On that day in Gulf Breeze, the McCollum campaign passed out transcripts of a deposition Scott gave in 2000, three years after he had left the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, in which he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times.

Scott was being questioned in a contract dispute, not about fraud at Columbia/HCA that forced the company he built to pay record fines of $1.7 billion. Scott was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing.

Scott said the lawyers were on a "fishing expedition," but his refusal to answer the most innocuous questions fit the McCollum campaign narrative like a glove: Scott is secretive, he's not forthcoming and he can't be trusted.

A few days later, Scott easily defeated McCollum in the GOP primary, and then Democrat Alex Sink used the Fifth Amendment in TV ads, and Scott beat her, too, though narrowly.

Case closed? Hardly.

The Florida Democratic Party served notice Monday that it will make the Fifth Amendment deposition part of its strategy to undermine what Democrats say is Gov. Scott's attempt to reinvent himself.

A new Web ad features a woman's voice highlighting Scott pleading the Fifth 75 times as she says: "Taxpayers got cheated while he walked away with millions. … We just can't trust Rick Scott."

"He's basically trying to change the narrative and say he's the one the middle class can trust, and that's simply not true," said Scott Arceneaux, the state party executive director. "This ad is our first salvo at reminding people who Rick Scott really is."

As Arceneaux noted, Scott won in 2010 partly because it was a bad year for Democrats, generally. With voters known for having short memories, he said the story of Scott's past has to be retold.

The Republican Party, which has repeatedly cited Democrat Charlie Crist's shifting positions as proof of his untrustworthiness, answered the Democrats' ad with one showing Crist defending decisions to raise college tuition and to support Obamacare as "the right thing to do."

The Democrats' use of old dirt in a new campaign might work and it might not. Because Democrats have a lot less money to spend, the ad is available on the Web and social media to start.

Florida had 11.8 million voters in April, about half a million more than in the 2010 election that Scott won by 61,550 votes. In addition, voters with no party affiliation are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate and account for nearly one of every four voters.

This means that the electorate that will choose the next governor is not the same. The message might be familiar, but the audience is different.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe

Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe

WASHINGTON — In a move that could signal cooperation with the government, lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald Trump’s lawyers that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump wants to end welfare as Bill Clinton knows it

Trump wants to end welfare as Bill Clinton knows it

WASHINGTON — Overhauling welfare was one of the defining goals of Bill Clinton’s presidency, starting with a campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it," continuing with a bitter policy fight and producing change that remains hotly debated 20 yea...
Updated: 4 hours ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Published: 11/23/17
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Published: 11/22/17

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Published: 11/22/17
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17