Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday continued to question the motive and origin of Sen. Bill Nelson's vague warning over Russian hacking.
"If he does have classified information how did he get it? I don't think he's entitled to it, and why would he release it to a reporter? … If it's not true, then why didn't he just come and say it's not true?" Scott said after a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee.
"From my standpoint, we're in the middle of a primary election, people are voting, absentee ballots are out, early voting has started in some places and people need to know the facts. And I don't think he's been transparent."
There is still no word from the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI in response to a letter Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent Friday asking for any information about Nelson's claim, despite Detzner setting a Monday deadline.
Nelson has stuck by his comments, first made in response to a question about election security from the Tampa Bay Times. He attributed that warning to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee but has not elaborated. Those officials have neither confirmed nor contradicted Nelson and said Florida needs to be cognizant of threats. Sen. Marco Rubio, also a member of the committee, has echoed that.
A reporter told Scott his administration had not been transparent about attempted Russian hacking of county election systems in 2016.
"The agency has been clear that we don't believe that anybody was able to get into the system, we had a free and fair election," Scott replied. "They've been clear with that all along. … My understanding is the secretary of state has reached out to homeland security and the FBI and they said they don't know of anything."
Last week, DHS said:
"While we are aware of Senator Nelson's recent statements, we have not seen any new compromises by Russian actors of election infrastructure. That said, we don't need to wait for a specific threat to be ready. DHS and Florida state and county officials have partnered on a number of initiatives to secure their election systems, including sharing threat information between the federal, state and local governments, conducting training for county election supervisors, and providing technical assistance to counties – as we are with other jurisdictions across the country."