Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is running as an outsider untainted by political or government experience. Check him out on Political Connections on Bay News 9 today, and it's clear he's also unburdened of any detailed policy proposals or deep knowledge of Florida government.
His take on last year's sweeping overhaul of Florida's growth management laws? "I'm not familiar with that," said Scott, a former health care executive. "I think a lot of these issues in regards to growth management ought to be local issues. We ought to decide locally."
How about the state's proposed $536 million deal to buy 73,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. to restore the Everglades? "I don't know all the details, but here's my impression: It's great. It would be great if we had more land the state can control. Can we afford it? Will it raise our taxes and are we spending dollars to do that, to not do other restoration projects? That's my concern."
Any concerns with Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program? "Right now it's fine, but we have to look at how can we continue to afford it and if we can't how can we spend those dollars better."
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What happened to 'buyer beware'?
Are political donations akin to a contract between the donor and candidate? That's what a group of Republican donors claim in a class action lawsuit suggesting Charlie Crist breached contracts when he accepted donations as a Republican candidate for the Senate and then refused to refund them after he became an independent. The lawyer leading the charge is state Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples, and one of the plaintiffs is Jacksonville developer John Rood, finance chairman for the state GOP.
"If Defendants (Crist and his campaign) do not refund the Republican Contributions, the Class will be harmed twice: first, the Republican Contributions will be used to support a candidate other than a Republican candidate in the Primary Election and in the General election; and, second, those Republican Contributions will be used to actively oppose the election of a Republican United States Senator from Florida."
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Backup for Crist
State Sen. Mike Fasano has established a federal political committee, Friends for Freedom, to help Crist's nonpartisan Senate campaign. Helping Fasano is Ken Pruitt,who served as the Republican state Senate president when Marco Rubio was House speaker. "There's no question that Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek, or whoever the Democratic nominee will be, is going to have a lot of financial support from Washington. It's important we do everything we can to counter that," Fasano said.
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Gov. Crist was downplaying the potential political fallout from his connections to the indicted ex-party chairman Jim Greer when he made this analogy to the Greer mess: "Jeb's feet weren't really held to the fire when that guy at Corrections got popped." Crist was referring, of course, to Jim Crosby, the former prison boss who's still serving time for taking kickbacks from contractors. For those who have been under a rock for the past 18 months, Jeb Bush is a strong supporter of Crist's Senate rival, Rubio. And Crosby's attorney, Steve Andrews,was recently listed on the host committee for a Crist-for-Senate fund-raiser in Tallahassee.
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Winners of the week
Allen Cox, above, and Susan Wright. There are very few heroes in the sordid story of the Florida GOP's spending scandals that have led to the arrest of former chairman Jim Greer and assorted other criminal investigations swirling around leading Republicans. But office manager Wright had the conviction and fortitude to ask superiors tough questions about some of the suspicious financial activity she saw - and wound up fired as a result. She has been unemployed for months. Vice chairman Cox repeatedly challenged Greer's assertions that all was hunky-dory. As a result, he was reviled, attacked as a traitor and kicked off the executive committee. And he was right.
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Loser of the week
Delmar Johnson. Don't even think of asking this guy to be your kid's godfather. The former state GOP executive director managed in one phone call recorded by investigators to achieve what had seemed almost impossible: make the bombastic, free-spending former party chairman Greer seem sympathetic. "Kiss my godson for me," Judas, er, Delmar Johnson told his old boss.
Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam C. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.