A photo of Gov. Rick Scott acting in his official capacity following Hurricane Michael made its way into an ad for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign.
That’s not sitting well with a liberal Super PAC invested in Florida’s closely watched top-ticket races.
American Bridge 21st Century filed a three-pronged public record request on Wednesday with the Governor’s Office. The group wants any email correspondence between the state and the campaign from the past week, along with any mentions of visual materials of Hurricane Michael recovery efforts and a list of any “filming expenses” incurred by Scott’s state office.
Hurricane Michael made landfall a week ago in Mexico Beach as a powerful Category 4 storm. Since then, Scott has traveled the areas hit in the storm’s path, speaking to local officials, assisting affected communities and coordinating with federal authorities.
On Monday, Scott’s Senate campaign announced the candidate would leave the trail limelight, citing the need for Scott to focus on hurricane recovery efforts. Wife Ann Scott would take over in his absence, the campaign said.
On Tuesday, the Scott campaign unveiled a new television ad extolling the Governor’s hurricane response, while criticizing his Democratic opponent Sen. Bill Nelson.
Scott is “leading hurricane recovery, directing relief efforts, and even housing state troopers in his own home,” the ad’s narrator says, displaying an image presumably captured by staff members of the Office of the Governor.
The still shows Scott speaking to state troopers in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. The duplicative was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
American Bridge spokesperson Amelia Penniman charged that the use of the image “strongly suggests Scott used taxpayer-funded government resources to capture video footage for use by his campaign.”
“We expect a swift response and thorough explanation,” Penniman added, referencing the pending records request.
A spokesperson for Scott’s state office redirected questions to the campaign. As of publishing, the campaign had not yet responded.
Whether Scott’s official office took the photo in question, however, has not been disputed. Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone told the Times, “Those photos were released publicly and anyone can use them, including the media and our opponents.”