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Hundreds sign online petition calling for Gov. Rick Scott's impeachment, but it's very unlikely

As grand marshal of the annual Springtime Tallahassee parade Saturday, Gov. Rick Scott waves to spectators, ignoring catcalls and AFL-CIO picket signs protesting his plans to cut the state work force. The governor was applauded by other spectators.

Associated Press

As grand marshal of the annual Springtime Tallahassee parade Saturday, Gov. Rick Scott waves to spectators, ignoring catcalls and AFL-CIO picket signs protesting his plans to cut the state work force. The governor was applauded by other spectators.

TALLAHASSEE — Impeach Gov. Rick Scott?

Several hundred Floridians are calling for just that only three months after Scott took office, signing an online petition letter on the social networking site www.change.org. The petition cites Scott's rejection of federal rail money, his opposition to seeking federal approval of two voter-approved fair-redistricting measures and support for drug-testing welfare recipients.

"It is time to investigate and impeach this self-promoting man. Florida can do better!" the petition states.

But given state law, impeachment of Scott is very unlikely.

Only the state House has the power to impeach a governor — by a two-thirds vote — and more than two-thirds of House members are Republicans like Scott. If he were impeached, he would be tried by the Senate, where 28 of the 40 members are Republicans.

"Absolutely not," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, when asked if Scott deserved to be thrown out of office. He had received at least 67 petition letters as of Monday.

"It's silly," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who also received several dozen letters. "I totally disagree with that."

Even though Fasano opposes some of Scott's policies, such as turning control of more prisons to for-profit companies, he says talk of impeachment is ludicrous.

"The governor hasn't broken any laws," Fasano said. "Some of us disagree with him, but those are not impeachable offenses."

The organizer of the impeach-Scott effort is Laura Strickland, a political activist in Neptune Beach, near Jacksonville. Among the signers is Jim Patrick, 73, of Tampa, a retired Marine electrician and a Democrat.

"I didn't vote for the man," Patrick said.

He said he's most upset with Scott for imposing a 15 percent across-the-board cut on local providers that contract with the state to serve people with spina bifida, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities, which he says could deny needed services to some people.

Scott's communications director, Brian Burgess, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

If Scott were a Florida sheriff, mayor or county commissioner, he could be recalled from office by a percentage of registered voters, as Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez was last month.

No provision exists to recall state officials, but Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, has filed two bills, HJR 785 and HB 787, to allow recalls either through petition or through statute. "Tallahassee always tends to make it difficult on everybody but themselves," Kriseman said.

The proposals allow for a petition to recall a statewide official, requiring signatures be collected from each of the 67 counties, and the signatures must equal 15 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office. A petition to recall a member of the Florida Legislature would require signatures from 20 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office.

A statewide recall mechanism, which exists in 18 states, would itself require approval by 60 percent of voters in the 2012 election to become effective, but to even make the ballot, it would need to pass both chambers by a three-fifths vote.

The proposals have not been heard by a committee and with the session already halfway over, Kriseman has no illusions they will be.

"It's not going anywhere," Kriseman said.

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

Hundreds sign online petition calling for Gov. Rick Scott's impeachment, but it's very unlikely 04/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 11:22am]
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