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  1. Florida Politics

Koch brothers' group assists Scott campaign

Published Jul. 1, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott is getting help from Americans for Prosperity, which has begun phone banking and canvassing across Florida.

"We're going to use that field effort, like we're already doing, to educate folks on his record. And it's a pretty good one," AFP president Tim Phillips said in an interview near the group's headquarters in Arlington, Va.

AFP, which gets funding from the Koch brothers, has 10 field offices across Florida. Last year, AFP paid for TV ads attacking three Republican state senators — Charlie Dean of Inverness, Nancy Detert of Venice and Greg Evers of Baker — over pension and other issues.

AFP recently named Chris Hudson as Florida state director, replacing Slade O'Brien, who was promoted to a regional director.

Hudson had been Florida director for Strategic Advocacy, a public affairs firm, and the Foundation for Government Accountability, a free market think tank, in addition to directing numerous campaigns throughout the state, according to a release.

"I am excited to lead this premier grass roots organization as we double down on our efforts to remind Florida's elected officials of their obligation to protect the well-being of every Florida taxpayer," he said in a statement.

Phillips said AFP has long-term objectives in Florida. "The goal is to keep most of the field operation in place from year to year. You've got the left doing it and we have to. It's a long-term commitment."

McCollum lends his support

Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on Tuesday endorsed Gov. Rick Scott, the man who beat him in the 2010 primary and upended state politics.

Scott once referred to McCollum as the "Tonya Harding of Florida politics."

"In 2010, Governor Scott and I competed in a very close and hard fought primary," McCollum said in a statement released by Scott's campaign. "Over the last four years, Governor Scott has done a great job for Florida families and served our state very well. His record on helping Floridians create jobs and supporting education has helped families throughout our state, and I am proud to endorse him for re-election today.

"As someone who served on the Florida Cabinet with then Governor Charlie Crist and had a good working relationship, I find many of his views and positions today vastly different. Governor Crist always was proud to be known as 'Mr. Open Government.' I find his recent refusal to release his and his spouse's tax returns very surprising and disappointing. Government in the sunshine has been the law, and transparency has been a bedrock principle of Florida government and Florida politics for many years. In making their decision in the Governor's race this fall Florida voters deserve to know the sources of income of the candidates and their spouses, and they deserve a Governor committed to sunshine and transparency."

Crist running in Coke Zero 400

Given how frugal Crist has been with his campaign money, this surprised us, even knowing that adviser Steve Schale is a racing buff: His campaign is sponsoring a car in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. These sponsorships can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The campaign spent no money on this and the cost of wrapping the car was an in-kind donation from a supporter who is a big NASCAR fan," said campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillian.

The car is owned by Mike Curb, Republican former California lieutenant governor and record company executive who surely knows Crist's longtime political pal, Mitch Bainwol, the former head of the Recording Industry Association of America. The driver is Josh Wise.

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed.

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