Scott Powers, Author at Florida Politics

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto demand Nancy Pelosi support reform package

Democratic U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto didn’t waste any time flexing muscles of their centrist sides, signing a letter Tuesday to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi outlining a number of demands for House rules changes if Pelosi wants their votes for House Speaker.

The two Central Florida lawmakers, members of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers” caucus, joined seven other Democrats in sending a letter to Pelosi stating that they could not support any candidate for House Speaker who does not support the “Break the Gridlock” package the caucus proposed over the summer. They asked Pelosi for written commitments by Friday.

“We believe so strongly in these principals that many of us, this summer, publicly committed only to vote for a candidate for Speaker who embraces the spirit, direction, and specific language of these proposals,” the letter reminds Pelosi.

“Given our rapidly approaching caucus meeting after Thanksgiving, and your familiarity with our proposal, we are eager to have your public commitment to the package of reforms by Friday, Nov. 16,” the letter states.

The 116th Congress convening in January will see the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives. Pelosi is in line to take over as Speaker, provided insurgencies do not derail her bid.

Soto, of Celebration, and Murphy, of Winter Park, are the only Florida members of Congress to sign the letter.

The Break the Gridlock package was first drafted and published in June, includes five goals and 12 specific proposals that would reduce the powers of the Speaker and committee chairs to allow for more power for rank-and-file members of Congress from either party. Hialeah’s Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo also signed, but he lost last week and won’t be returning.

The Problem Solvers’ caucus and its Break the Gridlock package probably aren’t Peloisi’s biggest concern in her campaign to be brought back as House Speaker, according to a Washington Post story Tuesday, which  points out she faces a much bigger insurgency among new Democratic lawmakers. On the other hand, neither group is a real issue at the moment, as no other Democratic House member has yet announced a candidacy for Speaker. Pelosi is unopposed for the moment.

Murphy was upfront about her commitment to the Break the Gridlock package during her re-election campaign. When pressed at a debate in October if she would support Pelosi, she replied, no, not unless Pelosi formally backs the package.

The Break the Gridlock package also has been pursued by an affiliated bipartisan political action committeeNo Labels, which spent $153,000 in October to back Murphy’s re-election campaign.

Bill Nelson lawsuit asks federal court to waive recount deadline

Florida’s 67 counties should not have to sweat it out to meet Thursday’s and Sunday’s deadlines to recount last week’s contested statewide elections and instead should be allowed more time if they need it, argues a new federal lawsuit filed Tuesdeay by the U.S. Senate campaign of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, continues a theme Nelson’s campaign began Monday, arguing that the recount deadlines could become difficult for county canvassing boards, and they would rather have the boards have the time to do it right than cut corners or miss deadlines.

Earlier Tuesday Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s election team argued the opposite, that the election and the recount must proceed according to the law that everyone agreed to, and that any efforts to short-circuit that law, even through federal lawsuits, “is incredibly partisan and irresponsible.”

The new lawsuit from Nelson’s campaign suggests it’s likely that some counties may not be able to make the deadlines.

“What we are saying is all counties should be committed, understanding that they need to work expeditiously and they need to work under the statutory regime as it exists; but paramount to that is that they assure accuracy and completion in the work,” Nelson’s lead recount lawyer Marc Elias said in a news conference Tuesday evening. “And if that means they need to have some additional time they ought to be able to have that time to assure that everyone’s vote is treated equally and with equal dignity.”

In the final first-round count of the ballots, Scott lead Nelson by just ove 15000 votes. Nelson’s people are claiming that Scott’s team is fighting against Nelson’s efforts to get every ballot counted because Scott’s campaign fears Nelson will win if all votes are counted.

Elias argued Tuesday night that Nelson’s team just wants to give counties enough extra time to be careful, not some big, indefinate period. The matter, he argued, is for the canvassing boards to not feel pressured, which could lead some to get sloppy in vote counting, just because of what he called an “arbitrary deadline” set in Florida law, which he said has no practical affect on whether the winners will be able to take office in time.

Earlier, Elias had suggested that it should be no problems for counties to meet the deadlines provided they brought in enough equipment and people to recount.

On the other hand, if counties do not meet the recounts in time for the election, then the previous count must be counted. In that prevoius count, Scott wins.

The new lawsuit also argues that means that votes would be counted one way in some counties, and another way in others, making the process inherently unfair to some voters, “based on the accident of where they reside.”

“It doesn’t today look like any counties are very far behind the pace they need to be on. So it looks like it’s a matter of days versus weeks,” Elias said.

“I don’t think of this in terms of extensions,” he added. “I think of this in terms of giving counties the time they need to do their statutory obligations of counting the votes and counting it accurately.”

Machine recounts are underway now to recount all the votes in the U.S. Senate election, the Governor election, and the Agriculture Commissioner election. The counties recounts of their shares of the 8.2 million ballots in Florida must be finished by 3 p.m. Thursday. If any of those elections remains with a difference of less than 0.25 percent – and the lawsuit calls that prospect “an inevitability” in the U.S. Senate race – then the hand recount of ballots, checking to see if the machines got the voters’ intent right, must be done by noon Sunday.

The latest lawsuit is one of four Nelson’s team has filed in federal court. The others ask judges to invalidate Florida’s signature-comparison rules; to extend the period in which mail-in ballots could be counted, provided they are postmarked prior to the election; and to invalidate Florida’s rules on “voter’s intent” to allow for the counting of ballots that have different kinds of marks.

“We should all agree here, whether you are a Republican or Democrat, is have a complete and accurate count of all lawful ballots,” Elias said.

Plastics in Indian River Lagoon oysters have UCF researchers looking closer

It might be from fraying, old, nylon boat ropes. It might be from clothing. It might be from straws and plastic grocery bags. Whatever the sources, a University of Central Florida research team is investigating an alarming – record – level of pastics discovered in oysters in the northern end of the Indian River Lagoon.

The plastic fibers, known as microplastics, first reported by UCF researchers in a paper published last spring, are at levels higher than seen anywhere else in marine invertebrates.

Add the new concern to the unfortunately growing list of environmental alarms being raised throughout Florida’s coastal waters, and particularly in Indian River Lagoon, which already has been hit by high levels of pesticide and septic runoff, red tides, and other algae blooms.

A team from UCF’s Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Lab, led by UCF biologist Linda Walters and run by her graduate student Casey Craig, has launched new research into the Indian River Lagoon this fall to determine if the record levels of microplastics seen in shellfish in Mosquito Lagoon last year was an anomaly or if the problem extends southward to Brevard and beyond.

“We don’t know. This is all conjecture at this point. The big question: Is Mosquito Lagoon a hot-spot for microplastics? And within the year we’ll know. That’s why we’re testing all up and down the entire [Indian River] Lagoon with all our partners,” she said.

The Indian River Lagoon system, running 156 miles from Volusia County through St. Lucie County, is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in North America. But it’s also one of the most-landlocked salt-water systems; it flushes very slowly, meaning there’s not a big flow of fresh seawater coming through; and it’s already sick. Now there are plastics to worry about.

“In the Indian River Lagoon, especially in the Mosquito Lagoon, where we do much of our work … we didn’t realize it until we had all of the data that we were one of the worst places in the world for microplastics in oysters, in shellfish in general,” Walters said.

Her team is doing monthly water sampling at 38 different spots, and oyster sampling quarterly. Both efforts have begun, as of last Sunday.

The UCF research project is being funded by a $99,797 grant from the federal Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There also are $36,000 worth of matching in-kind contributions, labor and equipment, from UCF and three partners in the research, the Florida Oceanographic Society, Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Aquatic Preserves Program and the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. The group also is collaborating with Smithsonian Institution researchers in Fort Piece to examine oyster feeding with microplastics. UCF Professor Lei Zhai is also collaborating with the team to determine the chemical identity of plastics found. Zhai is a chemist and director of the UCF NanoScience Technology Center.

At this point, the sources of the microplastics are unknown, but there are alarming clues. But what the researchers are finding are tiny plastic fibers, and they’re often bright yellow or bright blue, suggesting they come from nylon boat ropes. The initial research found an average of 20 microfibers in oysters and four in mud crabs. The plastic fibers also could be showing up in fish and other marine life.

Microplastics have been found everywhere in the ocean systems worldwide, but it’s not just about floating garbage islands in the South China Sea, or reports of dolphins and other marine life dying with bellies full of plastics.

“It comes back home a lot stronger when it’s in something you’re eating, or might want to eat, or something local, so it’s not a developing country problem anymore,” Walters said.

The good news is: generally, oysters are doing better in the lagoon than in the past. They’re making a bit of a comeback.

“Through restoration and just a lot of positive efforts in the Indian River Lagoon, oysters are doing better in a lot of places,” Walters said. “That fight can’t ever stop. As soon as we become complacent, the issues of the past will just become the issues of the future.”

Rick Scott’s team has no interest in seeing recount deadlines extended

After Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his team suggested there may be good reasons to extend recount deadlines if counties need more time to sort the U.S. Senate election, Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s team said not-so-fast.

Speaking for Scott, Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney insisted Tuesday that the recounts must proceed by law, a reference to the fact that Florida law requires the machine recounts to complete by Thursday, and for completion of the anticipated hand recount for the U.S. Senate race by Sunday. He was backed by Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, one of the lawyers on the Scott campaign, who said that everything Scott’s campaign is doing in court is seeking to make sure current laws are followed.

Their comments come as Nelson is in Washington D.C. meeting with Democratic Senate leaders and as Scott prepares to go to Washington Wednesday to begin new-member orientation for the U.S. Senate, including sitting for the class photograph.

They were responding to comments Nelson’s made Tuesday, that, given Palm Beach County’s reported request to extend the deadline, that counties should be given more time if needed. Nelson’s statement reflected beliefs first expressed Monday by his recount lawyer Marc Elias, that counties should be given the time they need to count every valid vote, because the deadlines were recreated to meet federal mandates for presidential elections, but don’t have any practical use in a U.S. Senate election.

“I think it would be absolutely outrageous that once again in this country that we would ignore law,” Rooney said

Cerio jumped in and concurred, adding that he was not aware of any legal requests reported to be pursued by Palm Beach County to extend the deadline, but adding Scott’s team was “trying to nail that down.”

“The idea that deadlines don’t matter in elections is an incredibly partisan and irresponsible comment, and the Supreme Court has clearly stated otherwise. Deadlines are critical to the integrity of the election process,” Cerio said.

Orange County Commission transition begins

The most dramatic power change Orange County has seen in a generation in county government began Tuesday with jokes, gifts, and tributes to the three outgoing members of the Board of Commissioners and only a slightly uncomfortable air of wonder of what Mayor-elect Jerry Demings and his Democratic-controlled board will bring next month.

In their last meeting as a Republican-controlled board led by outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Commissioners Rod Love, Pete Clarke, and Jennifer Thompson, all Republicans, stepped down from tenures known for efforts that cut across party lines to include both some of the most fiscally-sound policies any new board could hope to inherit, to commitments to such things as juvenile justice reform, mental health funding, and environmental protection.

In December their replacements will be sworn in, Democrats Demings, Mayra Uribe, and Maribel Cordero, and Republican Christine Moore, flippling the county’s partisan control for the first time in 20 years, from a current 5-2 Republican advantage to a 5-2 Democratic advantage, on what is only officially a nonpartisan board.

But before that transition takes form over the next three weeks, Love, Clarke and Thompson had their day Tuesday. Jacobs’ departure will be marked Friday, as she leaves next Monday to become countywide chair of the Orange County School Board. There will be no commission meetings the next two weeks, though Thompson will stick around at least on paper, in the position of acting mayor.

Love has served for only seven months, having been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill out the rest of this year for Bryan Nelson, who resigned to run for and be elected as mayor of Apopka. Love will be succeeded by Moore in Orange County District 2, serving northwest Orange County.

Jacobs lauded Love for coming in with an agenda to address corrections and juvenile justice reform, and to create empowerment zones to help children in South Apopka, and to find money to transform an adult vocational school in Apopka, and for succeeding.

“It is very rare to have a gubernatorial appointment who comes in to fill someone’s seat for a short period of time who comes in with so much to offer and so much passion to get things done,” Jacobs said.

Clarke served for six years. He resigned midway through his second term to run for Orange County mayor, losing to Demings. He’ll be replaced by Uribe in Orange County District 3, serving south-central Orange County.

Jacobs started by reminding of Clarke’s longtime efforts to address areas such as human trafficking, including creating a first-of-its-kind human trafficking shelter in Orange County. Clarke also was known for overseeing major changes in the county’s mental health services, and for commitments to environmental policy, including sponsoring the county’s fracking ban. But Jacobs pointed to his ability to work on the human side of government services.

“What I value most is the compassion you have for people,” she said. “Whenever we are at an event that involves citizens, Pulse, our LGBT Pride events, anything I can think of, I can always look out into the crowd and know Pete is there.”

Thompson is leaving after two full four-year terms. She’s being succeeded by Cordero in Orange County Distict 4 covering southwest Orange County. Cordero’s election was secured only Monday night, over Thompson’s longtime aide Susan Makowski, with the results of the county’s vote recount in her race.

Thompson always has been the board’s source of tension-cracking humor, as she displayed Tuesday elevating the mayor’s gavel as if it were a championship trophy. Jacobs reminded everyone of her work on issues including from transit, new special-needs playgrounds, and helping the Back to Nature wildlife refuge find a new home.

“Your humor is incredibly important in these serious times but some of the things that I am really proud of here in Orange County, the work on the human issues,” Jacobs said.

Bill Nelson’s attorney calls on counties to get time needed on recounts

Saying there’s no practical reason for the statutory deadlines that counties face to complete machine and hand recounts of last week’s election, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s lead vote-recount attorney said Monday he believes they should be given the time they need even beyond the deadlines.

Marc Elias told reporters that Florida’s law was not created with the intention of meeting rigid timetable requirements for the elections of a U.S. Senator or a Governor, and so, if counties need more time, the state ought to grant them waivers to make sure they have time to count every ballot.

The matter comes to the forefront Monday as all 67 counties launch a machine recount of three statewide elections, including that for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, in which Nelson trails Republican Gov. Rick Scott by just over 12,000 votes out of 8.2 million cast in the election.

The machine recounts are to be completed by Thursday. If the U.S. Senate race remains below the 0.25 percent difference threshold, and that race goes, as now expected, to a hand-recount, county canvassing boards have to finish that by Sunday. Already, there is grumbling that some might not make it, and one Democratic Florida House candidate Jim Bonfiglio has filed suit to get Palm Beach County’s deadlines extended.

“If they can’t meet the Sunday deadline, then that deadline ought to be extended,” Elias said. “And it ought to be extended to ensure that every vote is counted because obviously you would not want, of all places in America, Florida would not want different counting treatments in some counties than in others.”

If a county cannot meet its deadline, the state could revert the vote count from that county back to the most recent vote count, which would have been from the machine recount for that county.

“The current law in Florida was passed after 2000 and the deadlines put into the statute were put into statute because of the 2000 experience. … and the Electoral College rules. There is a safe harbor in federal law that basically says that if states get their results in by a certain time it is presumptively correct,” Elias said. “The good news is this is not a presidential election year and there is no federal safe harbor that is going to kick in in December. The swearing-in of the Senate doesn’t happen until early January. The swearing-in of the governor doesn’t happen until January as well, so we’re not under the kinds of time constraints that statute was drafted to address.

“So it is important that as everyone looks at the process from here forward that counties be given the opportunity to conduct this process in an orderly fashion, and, most importantly, in an accurate fashion,” Elias continued. “So the big counties are necessarily going to take more time than the smaller counties. And that isn’t because the bigger counties are less well-run or are prone to more errors. It’s simply because they are bigger. They have more ballots to process.”

In expressing that concern, Elias essentially changed his position a bit from a press call last week when he talked about county canvassing boards simply having to have enough people and machines on hand to meet recount deadlines. On Friday he said he had “every confidence that the counties would be able to do this.”

“The question of how quickly a county can recount ballots is a function of two things,” Elias said last Friday after he was asked if counties could meet the recount deadlines. “If you think of it as a pipe: you can lengthen a pipe or you can widen the pipe. So lengthening a pipe is just adding more days. As you point out, that is not a solution in Florida law.  So that brings us to the other option, which is you widen the pipe, right? You increase the number of people who are counting ballots.”

Elias also defended much of the litigation that has been brought in the U.S. Senate race, at least the litigation not brought by the Republicans. That includes the lawsuit filed Monday by the League of Women Voters of Florida and the ACLU demanding that Scott recuse himself from having anything to do with the recounts because he’s a candidate affected by them.

Elias charged that Scott has been interfering, through rhetoric, through intimidation actions such as saying he was asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigation allegations of voter fraud, and through litigation brought by Scott’s team seeking to impound ballots and machines in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Nelson’s team is not a party to the LWV/ACLU suit but supports it. Nelson made a similar demand earlier Monday.

Elias has repeatedly expressed confidence that recounts will favor Nelson and has charged that Scott is trying to discredit the process because of that likelihood.

“I think it ought to cause the people of Florida to be concerned that the Governor is not thinking clearly in executing his authority as Governor and that he is being clouded by his desire as a candidate to prevail in the election,” Elias said.

He also repeatedly refuted all the claims by Scott and other Republicans that there is any evidence of voter fraud contending that a judge ruled that Monday in Broward County and that the FDLE has concluded that as well.

“The fact is there is no evidence of fraud. Both judges and state law enforcement have said that,” he said.

Linda Stewart: Calm down and let the elections officers do their work

Railing against what they call a Republican effort to discredit recounts through legal intimidation and allegations of fraud, Democrats state Sen. Linda Stewart, Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and state Rep.-elect Anna Eskamani insisted Monday the process just needs to proceed now in calm and confidence.

“Calm down,” Stewart said Monday on the front steps of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, a hundred yards or so where the county’s recounts were underway Monday for Florida’s U.S. Senate, Governor, and Agriculture Commission elections and that of an Orange County Commission district. “Let them do their job and don’t be yelling ‘Fraud!’ because there’s no fraud.”

She, Smith and Eskamani suggested that all the talk in recent days about voter fraud are unfounded bluster, and all the lawsuits potential roadblocks to smooth recounts, and they blamed Republicans, though some of the lawsuits have been brought by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whose election contest with Republican Gov. Rick Scott is emerging as the most contentious, with both sides plying the courts.

Stewart also suggested some counties might have trouble meeting vote recount deadlines but should be given the time they need.

“This is a very tedious operation. And it’s being done by professionals who have been doing this for years and years and years. There’s nothing nepharious about it. There’s nothing fraudelent about it. It just takes time,” Stewart said. “All we’re asking for is time and not to interfere with the process and allow it goes forward the way it goes forward, so every vote counts. And that’s all we’re asking for everybody to stand back, calm down and just allow us to move forward and get these votes forward.”

Eskamani renounced the growing level of anger she said she and Smith experienced over the weekend in Broward County.

Smith accused President Donald Trump of trying to intimidate Florida officials to just declare the election over and “declare his buddies the election winners.”

“We will be for protecting the integrity of our electoral system whether we are winning those elections or losing those elections. The integrity of our democracy matters and that is what we are fighting for,” Smith said.

Bill Nelson calls on Rick Scott to recuse himself from any recount role

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson doesn’t want his opponent Republican Gov. Rick Scott to have anything to do with the recount of their election.

On Monday Nelson called on Scott to recuse himself from “any role” in Florida’s recount process as the supervisors of elections across the state begin a mandatory machine recount of more than 8.2 million ballots cast in this year’s U.S. Senate election.

In a two-minute, 17-second video released Monday by his campaign, Nelson called for civility in the process, and charged that Scott is using his power as governor to undermine the voting process.

“He’s thrown around words like ‘voter fraud’ without any proof,” Nelson said. “He’s stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion and tried to use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Broward elections chief. He’s filed lawsuits to try to stop votes from being counted, and to impound voting machines. The reason he’s doing these things is obvious: he’s worried that when all the votes are counted, he’ll lose the election.”

Meanwhile, Scott’s campaign charged Monday that Nelson’s campaign’s latest legal actions are being undertaken to get illegally-submitted votes to be counted.

Nelson added that it is obvious to him that Scott cannot oversee the process in a fair and impartial way.

“And thus he should remove himself from any role in the recount process so the people can have confidence in the integrity of the election,” Nelson said in the video statement. “Given his efforts to undermine the votes of Floridians, this is the only way that we can ensure that the people’s votes are protected. “

Nelson added, “As the recount in the Senate race continues, we should have a common goal, and that is that every vote is counted and counted as the voter intended.”

Orlando Sentinel shakes up top: Nancy Meyer, Julie Anderson in; Avido Khahaifa out

The Orlando Sentinel has moved former publisher Nancy Meyer back as publisher of the newspaper and also of the Sun Sentinel, and named Julie Anderson as editor-in-chief, ending the run of Avido Khahaifa in both positions, Tribune Publishing announced Monday morning.

Meyer has been serving as general manager of the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. She will now hold that post plus the publisher’s title at both papers.

This is Meyer’s second time round as publisher of the Orlando Sentinel; she was the paper’s publisher in 2015 and ’16, before being dismissed and replaced in that position by Khahaifa. She went to work for the USA Today Network, and Tribune Publishing brought her back in March, making her general manager for the company’s Florida papers.

Anderson has been serving as editor-in-chief at the Sun Sentinel since March 1, and now will hold that post at both papers. She had previously served in various executive roles, based out of Orlando, for Tribune Publishing, and before that with the Orlando Sentinel.

Tribune Publishing, which owns both papers, did not indicate whether the papers would see any additional merging of operations now that they share publishers and editors-in-chief. The papers have previously shared publishers off and on for about a decade, and have merged numerous operations, though the newsroom staffs have largely remained independent and even competitive with each other.

“I am confident that Nancy and Julie’s strategic leadership will boost both Florida newsrooms to serve our Central and South Florida residents while raising our profile on statewide issues. Their records of innovation in digital media will help ensure we deliver high-quality journalism in new ways for our readers,” Tim Knight, Tribune Publishing president, stated in a news release issued Monday.

Khahaifa is leaving the company, according to the news release.

He’d been with the company for his entire career, starting in 1984. He moved up into executive positions by 2004 in South Florida, and then in Orlando the following year when he became senior vice president and general manager. For several years when the Sentinel’s publisher was based out of Fort Lauderdale, Khahaifa served many of those functions in Orlando, becoming the paper’s editor in 2013, and then publisher, replacing Meyer, and editor-in-chief in 2016.

Marco Rubio says Broward County put election integrity on line

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio came to the aid of his fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott Friday declaring that the vote-counting and transparancy problems at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office is putting the integrity of Florida’s U.S. Senate election on the line.

Rubio insisted that his concerns were “not about an effort to prevent anyone from counting votes.”

He spent most of his remarks criticising Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes for not being open about why her office is so late in reporting and counting votes that should have been tabulated on Tuesday, and for refusing to tell anyone why, or how many votes are at issue.

Still, Florida’s junior Senator, who stayed out of this year’s election between Scott and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson until just the past week or so, said the pattern he’s seen of Snipes’ activities, the stories he’s heard about incidents this week, and her refusal to date to provide information leads him to believe that “the whole thing” concerns him. He didn’t explicitly say whether the whole thing includes questioning the validity of any votes in Snipes’ possession, but he did imply it.

“The issue here is why is it taking them so long to count the votes and where are they getting them from?” Rubio said.

Some of that information is expected to be revealed after 7 p.m. if Snipes meets a court order, brought through a lawsuit from Scott’s campaign, to disclose information.

“I’m concerned about everything, because when you don’t even know how many ballots are there, and they refuse to tell you how many ballots they have, or how many ballots need to be counted, or when they came, you have to be concerned about the whole thing,” Rubio said in a press conference organized by Scott’s campaign. “You have to be, given what we have seen in the past. So I’m concerned about the whole thing. Absolutely.”

Rubio was joined by attorney Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, one of the lawyers working on the Scott campaign, who described incidents he saw of Snipes refusing to turn over ballots to the county’s canvassing board, of voters coming in to vouch for provisional ballots and being given false information, and of refusing to provide information.

Rubio said that after the election is concluded, Snipes should be considered for removal from office, “given the damage she’s done to public credibility to our elections.”

Cerio said Scott is not considering removing Snipes, “at this time.”

“This is a procedural reality,” Rubio said later. “At the end of the day the one thing our country uses to resolve policy disputes are elections. And if people start to doubt that elections are valid and credible, or that there are problems in the way they are processed and handled, then we’ve got big problems.

“This is more than the outcome of the race. This is about public confidence in our election process. Doubts are being driven not by political gamesmanship, but by reality,” Rubio added.

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