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Sen. Rick Scott disgraces himself and embarrasses Florida | Editorial
Masquerading behind conscience in what was a naked attempt to steal the election.
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.

Sen. Rick Scott embarrassed Florida (again) by attaching his vote and the state’s good name to one of the darkest episodes in American history. In a disgusting though unsurprising move, Scott was one of only seven senators Thursday to vote against certifying Pennsylvania’s election results. It was a craven, self-serving exercise by Republican extremists. Coming only hours after an armed, pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol, it showed how far out of whack Scott is with mainstream America and its democratic ideals.

Congressional Republicans had no legitimate reason or legal grounds to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and certainly no constitutional role in stealing the election after-the-fact. In that sense, the objections that Republicans manufactured in advance of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress were as dangerous as they were dubious. Many Republicans who had said they would join the other extremists in their party to participate in this coup were at least scared-straight by the outbreak of violence that erupted as Congress met. Egged on by the president at a rally blocks away, the mob laid siege to the Capitol, breaking into offices, smashing windows, stealing art and furniture and forcing America’s elected representatives to run in fear for their lives. One woman was shot and killed on the Capitol grounds, and at least two dozen police officers were injured.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio had enough integrity to vote against decertifying the results, becoming one of 93 senators to uphold Arizona and 92 to affirm Pennsylvania. But Scott split his vote, upholding Arizona while objecting to Pennsylvania. Scott announced in advance that he would “likely vote” to object on Pennsylvania, saying the steps Pennsylvania took to ease mail-in voting during the pandemic were “absurd and cannot be tolerated.”

Since the Nov. 3 election, Republicans and the Trump campaign mounted several legal challenges in Pennsylvania, most of which were thrown out. Pennsylvania’s top court dismissed the mail-in voting challenge, and the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three Trump appointees, later declined to weigh in.

In all, Trump and his allies filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking to overturn results in states the president lost. Of those, 61 failed, with a minor Trump victory in Pennsylvania requiring voters to provide identification to cure a defective ballot. The obvious lack of evidence made this entire congressional escapade a farce. Republicans said they objected as a means for clearing the way for a 10-day congressional audit of election fraud allegations. But those bogus charges have already been investigated and debunked. The courts have rejected the same claims as baseless, and even Republican state officials have certified Biden’s victory as legitimate. While it is impossible to run down every allegation of election irregularity, no one has found any credible proof of widespread fraud.

Even South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a reliable Trump supporter, called the move to delay certification “a uniquely bad idea” and dismissed the conspiracy theory that thousands of people had voted illegally. “They said 66,000 people in Georgia under 18 voted. I said, ‘(Show) me 10.’ I hadn’t gotten one,” Graham told his fellow senators in a speech Wednesday. “They said 8,000 felons in prison in Arizona voted. Give me 10. I hadn’t gotten one.”

“I don’t buy this,” Graham said. “Enough is enough.”

But Scott and other congressional holdouts, including 12 Florida Republicans in the House, tried to masquerade this power grab as a matter of principle, saying they are only responding to the concerns of their constituents. This is the same party that has spent years parroting the lies of the commander-in-chief and playing up to the Trump fringe. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah popped this balloon perfectly Wednesday, after police had retaken the Senate chamber. “The objectors have claimed they are doing so on behalf of the voters,” he noted. “(But) no congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the President will continue to claim that the election was stolen. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”

Scott and the 12 Florida Republicans in the House disgraced the Sunshine State with a vote that inspires a violent fringe and treats their own constituents as fools.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news

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