Saturday, January 20, 2018
Politics

Steve Bousquet: Text messages to Gov. Rick Scott's top aide show behind-the-scenes lobbying

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has a policy of not conducting public business through text messages.

But that doesn't stop a lot of people, including elected officials, from texting Adam Hollingsworth, Scott's chief of staff.

They want a heads-up on a pending veto, help getting a friend an appointment or to arrange a meeting for a client.

Text messages that convey official business are public records in Florida, even when sent to a private phone. The Tampa Bay Times received dozens of pages of texts to Hollings­worth's phone, dating to when he began working for Scott in July 2012. Scott's office determined which text messages were official business and therefore public record.

Several weeks ago, Hollingsworth had the texting feature disabled, in part to end questions about whether he used his phone to transact state business. The texts we obtained show he wasn't, though he once texted House Speaker Will Weatherford's chief of staff, Kathy Mears, to ask for a tour of the House chamber for some friends.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman was grateful that Hollingsworth went to Tampa in November to interview her as a possible lieutenant governor. ("Honored to be considered," she texted.)

"Brilliant move today," wrote former House Speaker Allen Bense in January when Scott announced Carlos Lopez-Cantera as his No. 2.

Hollingsworth's ex-boss, former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, wanted advice on a proposed constitutional amendment. Amendment 1 would set aside certain future taxes for open space. Whatever advice Hollingsworth gave, Peyton replied: "Sounds like terrible public policy that I need to vigorously support."

Rob Gidel, chairman of the board of Florida Polytechnic University, asked the aide for some advice during the legislative session.

"Latvala has asked me to appear before his committee on Monday at 4," the text read.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, wanted to know why it was taking so long for Polytechnic to find its first president.

Latvala sent texts to Hollingsworth, too. He wanted Scott's help pushing a bill to give in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants.

"I need governor to call (Sen. Joe) Negron to agenda SB 1400," Latvala texted April 11. "I now have 21 signed co-sponsors."

Spencer Geissinger, who handled inaugural events in Scott's transition, is still trying to get airtime for his former boss. He texted Hollingsworth in February that he had a friend at Fox Business in Miami and wanted to book Scott as part of "a daylong series of stories on how Obamacare has negatively affected business. Could he be in Miami on Thursday?"

Gaston Cantens, a sugar industry lobbyist, lawyer, ex-House member and a Cuban-American, wasn't happy with the trend line on Scott's judicial appointments to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami: "I'm hearing this will be the third Hispanic judge to retire from 3rd DCA under Scott and replaced by Anglos," texted Cantens.

Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, texted his appreciation: "Heard Gov. said really nice stuff about me unsolicited in a meeting. Tell him thanks!!"

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They aren’t just up for ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON — A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he’s now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Here’s what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Here’s what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES — There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18
Rick Baker leaving Edwards Group, promoting new book

Rick Baker leaving Edwards Group, promoting new book

ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker is opening a new chapter in his life. So far, the future remains an open book.The former two-term mayor announced Sunday that he’s resigning his position as president of the Edwards Group effective Jan. 31.Baker has worked...
Published: 01/18/18
Madeira Beach voters have clear choices as battle lines form over growth

Madeira Beach voters have clear choices as battle lines form over growth

By Sheila Mullane EstradaTimes CorrespondentMADEIRA BEACH — Voters here can either end or continue the city’s divisive politics on March 13. They will also decide how the city grows.The two commission seats that now represent pro-growth and pro-devel...
Published: 01/18/18