TALLAHASSEE — Rick Scott may yet be Florida's next U.S. senator, but his eight-year tenure as the state's 45th governor is not ending well.
The League of Women Voters Florida and Common Cause sent letters to Scott on Saturday calling on him to "immediately relinquish authority and remove yourself from any person or agency responsible for the processing and counting of ballots from the Nov. 6 general election."
The two groups said Scott improperly threatened "a show of force" by asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate vote counting in Broward County.
When FDLE found out there were no allegations of voter fraud on file with the Department of State, the agency, which is also under the control of the three Cabinet members, did not open an investigation.
FDLE also noted that Scott did not put his request in writing, a standard procedure in such cases.
Scott's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The two groups said Scott's removal from the elections apparatus "will help to ensure that there is no appearance of any impropriety, undue influence or conflict of interest in directives being given to election officials."
On Saturday, Scott the Senate candidate — not the governor — called on Florida sheriffs to watch out for any election violations.
"These actions can easily be seen as intimidation of election officials who need to remain unencumbered while they engage in their very demanding work," the groups wrote.
Scott's campaign on Saturday again accused Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and his liberal activists of "trying to steal an election."
On Sunday, Scott's campaign once again declared him the winner, even as a statewide machine recount, ordered by a Scott appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, was just starting in a number of counties.
"Rick Scott won a close but decisive victory," Scott's campaign said.
Will Scott certify the results of an election in which he's a candidate? The governor is a member of the state Election Canvassing Commission charged with ratifying the final results at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, if machine and manual recounts are completed by then in all 67 counties.
Scott is chairman of the three-member panel and appoints two Cabinet members, who cannot have a stake in the election outcome (outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are obvious choices, as neither has a stake in the election). The work of the commission is ministerial and consists of ratifying the final results.
The Times/Herald asked the governor's office if Scott would recuse himself from any involvement in the canvassing commission but his office has not responded.