Rick Scott Archives - Florida Politics

Rick Scott laments ‘slick Washington trick’ derailing Brett Kavanaugh confirmation

The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears increasingly imperiled Tuesday, in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against him.

The judge was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford three decades ago at a party.

Gov. Rick Scott, running for Senate this year, weighed in — saying that while the allegations are “very serious,” a “slick Washington trick” from Sen. Dianne Feinstein obscured the allegations during the hearings thus far.

“The Judiciary Committee needs to seek the truth here. Truth is not partisan, and truth is more important than politics,” Scott said.

“These very serious allegations should have been investigated months ago. But Democrat Senator Feinstein pulled a slick Washington trick and intentionally hid this from the Senate during the hearings. Dr. Ford must receive a fair hearing; her allegations are very serious. And Judge Kavanaugh deserves to have the chance to clear his name,” Scott added.

Scott couldn’t resist tweaking his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, noting “someone must have told Senator Nelson to start doing his job now, and he is finally saying he’s interested in meeting with the Judge.”

Prior to the allegations against Kavanaugh becoming a matter of public record, Scott extolled the nominee.

“I have taken the time to learn about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record and it is clear he has the experience and objectivity to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Scott said earlier this month. “Judge Kavanaugh has the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and will work to uphold our Constitution – not legislate from the bench.

“Unfortunately, Bill Nelson has failed to do his job, pledging to vote against the nominee without knowing who it was and refusing to even meet with Judge Kavanaugh – choosing instead to ask rhetorical questions to reporters when he could have reviewed the judge’s record face to face,” Scott added.

Before that, on Aug. 20, Scott’s camp released a statewide ad, “Fair Hearing,” which dinged Nelson for not meeting with Kavanaugh.

For his part, Sen. Nelson contends he has tried four times to meet with Kavanaugh (Aug. 13 and 27; Sep. 10 and 13), and that Kavanaugh and his accuser should appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of this writing, they are slated to testify to the committee Monday.

State to boost redfish hatcheries amid red tide epidemic

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is getting an additional $1.2 million to enhance research and increase production of redfish in Port Manatee, the state announced Monday.

The new funding should help recover Florida’s fisheries from the ongoing red tide sweeping Florida’s Gulf coast and wreaking havoc on Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee County beaches.

Florida’s commercial fisheries generate $17.7 billion of sales and support nearly 93,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s 2015 Fisheries Economics of the United States.

In addition, recreational fishing has an $8 billion economic impact in Florida and supports nearly 115,000 jobs, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service report last year.

“Florida is the ‘Fishing Capital of the World,’ ” FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton said. “Not only are our fisheries robust, but they are also incredibly resilient to the impacts of natural events, like red tide.” 

The FWC’s Stock Enhancement Research Facility at Port Manatee will use the additional funding to increase its redfish stock in Southwest Florida by six times. Redfish are among several species of marine life being killed off by red tide that’s affected much of the state’s Gulf coast.

Gov. Rick Scott also announced a $9 million grant fund to assist local communities. That funding has not been allocated, but will help mitigate financial losses incurred by coastal businesses affected by the red tide bloom.

In Pinellas, beaches have been a ghost town for more than a week as dead fish dot the shoreline and respiratory distress continues to be a problem for many beach goers.

“Along the Gulf Coast, businesses and fishermen rely on the robust health of Florida’s world-class fisheries. With this investment we are not only supporting our environment, but also these Floridians who make their living on the water,” Scott said.

Red tide has become an issue for Scott, running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

Scott has earned the nickname “Red Tide Rick” as critics blame him for the outbreak because of polluted waters entering the Gulf from Lake Okeechobee.

A press release from Scott’s office released Monday was sure to note the Red Tide was “naturally occurring.” While that’s true, many of Scott’s critics argue his environmental policies may have exacerbated the problem.

As of Tuesday morning, red tide advisories on Pinellas beaches reported dark waters discolored from the increased bacteria, strong odor and moderate to severe respiratory discomfort.

Bill Nelson ‘died three years ago,’ Roger Stone quips to Palm Beach Trump supporters

Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone was his usual self in remarks to Trump Club 45 PBC Monday night, spouting several attention-grabbing comments to the audience of Trump die-hards.

Stone dropped several eyebrow-raising one-liners (mostly in jest) during his speech at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, one of which concerning a prominent Florida contest.

“You have a U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Nelson,” Stone started. “Bill Nelson died three years ago. Somebody forgot to tell him about it.”

As for Stone’s famous tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back: “I’m the only guy you know that has a dick on the front and the back.”

In addition to punchlines, Stone offered the Trump-loving crowd plenty of red meat.

First, there was media bashing: “I don’t get my news from CNN for the same reason I don’t eat out of the toilet.”

Next, about The New York Times, Stone harped on the fact that the paper’s top shareholder is Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Clintons.

“Why would we believe a single word that is printed in The New York Times?” Stone charged.

He then moved into the realm of the conspiratorial. On the recent anonymous op-ed printed by the Times, Stone argued it was all a fabrication.

“Folks, I can tell you right now who wrote that editorial. No one. It’s a fraud. It’s a MacGuffin. It’s a con job on the American people.”

He once again called into question whether Russia even hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

“There’s more forensic evidence that would indicate that the DNC was never hacked at all by anyone.”

Stone also touched upon the recent abuse allegations lobbied against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Stone framed the “dastardly accusations” as a “smear” against Kavanaugh, shredding the media for even reporting on them given the lack of a corroborating witness.

Stone, rumored to be a potential target of the Robert Mueller investigation, further elaborated on his current legal situation.

While describing claims of any sort of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign utter “bullshit,” Stone maintained: “I will never roll on Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, I am not.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Stone injected a minutes-long pitch for his legal defense fund.

“Everything you can send will be a godsend. This threatens to bankrupt my family. They have systematically attempted to ruin my business.”

Stone saved some of his most fiery comments for Republicans 2018 midterms strategy. He parroted the notion that the real wrongdoing of the 2016 election was the Barack Obama administration’s investigation into Russian collusion, rather than any potential collusion itself.

Midterm voters need reminding of that fact, Stone said, calling for some high-profile arrests.

“We need to expose the constitutional abuses, far worse than Watergate, of the administration of Barack Obama. And we have to demand the prosecution of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Of course, that elicited chants of “lock her up” from the audience, with one member suggesting Hillary be sent “to Guantánamo.”

With a closing shot, Stone clarified there’s no love lost between him and the Clintons.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of the American body politic.”

Personnel note: Real estate pro Shaun Oxtal reappointed to transportation board

Governor Rick Scott re-appointed Shaun Oxtal to the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, his office announced Monday.

Oxtal is the managing director for Capright, a global real estate valuation and consulting firm with offices in Tampa.

Oxtal will work with other business leaders serving on THEA’s board to further the agency’s work on four local transportation corridors including the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, the Brandon Parkway, Meridian Avenue and the Selmon Greenway.

Scott originally appointed Oxtal last August. His reappointment is subject to Florida Senate confirmation. His term would continue through July 1, 2022.

“We are pleased that Governor Scott has reappointed Shaun Oxtail to the Tampa Hillsborough County Board of Directors. In his short tenure, Mr. Oxtail has proven himself to be an invaluable member of our board as the chair of the Planning Committee,” said THEA CEO and Executive Director Joe Waggoner.

Oxtal has been working in real estate since 2003. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University.

Oxtal has been a part of some of THEA’s recent major developments including the $230 million Selmon Extension, a two-mile expressway that will offer a tolled alternative to Gandy Boulevard between Dale Mabry Highway and the Gandy Bridge. The extension is set to open in late 2020.

Oxtal also worked with board members and staff on autonomous vehicle testing and THEA’s Connected Vehicle Pilot.

Socialist smear on Andrew Gillum another GOP ‘dog whistle,’ says Jeremy Ring

Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring, the former Yahoo! executive and state Senator running for CFO, told Florida Politics Monday that Republican claims that Andrew Gillum is a “socialist” amount to more “dog whistle” politics.

“It’s out of a 101 playbook,” Ring said when asked, adding that it doesn’t seem to be “getting traction” given Gillum’s polling lead with independent voters.

“It’s a dog whistle of sorts. Is Gillum a socialist because he wants to ban assault weapons? Ask them to define socialism,” Ring said.

“If they define it, it’s not going to match where the Democrats are,” Ring added. “Socialism — it’s a dog whistle word as it relates to its reality in this election.”

A main ballast for the claim: Gillum’s desire to hike corporate income taxes from five to seven percent. Ring rejected that logic.

“I don’t think that’s a socialist measure,” Ring opined. “That’s a policy debate with pros and cons attached to it for sure. I don’t think just because you’re talking about raising a corporate tax rate that you’re talking about socialism. It seems to be pretty far fetched to me.”

Accusations of “dog whistle” politics have been a leit motif of the primary season thus far, which began with Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis warning Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum.

DeSantis said he wouldn’t use the phrase again, but called the flap over the phrase (one that earned the interest of national media) a “nothingburger.”

Bill Nelson wants ‘investigation’ of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears increasingly imperiled Monday, in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against him.

Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday joined a bipartisan consensus that the allegations need to be investigated.

Republicans, including Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, have made similar calls, effectively putting the push for a vote in Judiciary Thursday on pause.

Even Pres. Donald Trump seemed reconciled to the reality.

“If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” Trump said Monday, advocating for a “full process” to White House reporters.

Kavanaugh denies that he committed sexual assault: “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”

Sen. Nelson had been harangued by Republican operatives for not committing to a position on Kavanaugh. The campaign of his general election opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, likewise put the pressure on.

“I have taken the time to learn about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record and it is clear he has the experience and objectivity to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Scott said earlier this month. “Judge Kavanaugh has the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and will work to uphold our Constitution – not legislate from the bench.

“Unfortunately, Bill Nelson has failed to do his job, pledging to vote against the nominee without knowing who it was and refusing to even meet with Judge Kavanaugh – choosing instead to ask rhetorical questions to reporters when he could have reviewed the judge’s record face to face,” Scott added.

Before that, onn Aug. 20, Scott’s camp released a statewide ad, “Fair Hearing,” which dinged Nelson for not meeting with Kavanaugh.

Two debates planned between Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum

The gubernatorial nominees have agreed to two debates ahead of Election Day.

Republican nominee Ron DeSantis accepted a Leadership Florida debate and CNN town hall on Monday, a few days after Democrat Andrew Gillum said he also would attend the forums. 

The Leadership Florida debate, according to the Gillum campaign, will take place Oct. 24 at Broward College. The CNN debate will be in Tampa, but the date is not yet set. 

DeSantis, in accepting debate invitations, opened the door for three more: Fox News, CBS Miami with Jim DeFede and Telemundo in Orlando.

“I’ll debate [Andrew Gillum] whenever possible—because his high-tax, far-left policies would be a disaster for Florida,” DeSantis tweeted.

But DeSantis left unanswered a third forum Gillum accepted: Univision 23 in Miami.

That sort of silence has proved to be fodder for both parties in multiple races.

The Gillum campaign and the Florida Democratic Party spent the weekend hammering DeSantis for not having immediately accepted the same debates that Gillum accepted on Saturday. 

When the Gillum campaign announced on Sunday that the Tallahassee mayor also would attend a CNN town hall, campaign adviser Scott Arceneaux said: “DeSantis is refusing to accept any debates because he has no real plans for moving Florida forward.”

A spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party in a statement earlier on Monday said: “In a major break with tradition, Ron DeSantis is refusing to debate Andrew Gillum.”

But now, there are three pending forums the Gillum campaign must answer to. As of publishing, Gillum’s team has yet to indicate whether it will attend the additional debates DeSantis announced earlier on Monday.

“Florida voters deserve to hear from both Mayor Gillum and Congressman DeSantis about their plans for the Sunshine State, and we’re proud to move forward accordingly,” said Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s communications director.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate race the Republican candidate has made a campaign issue of incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson’s delay of response to live forums.

Per Republican challenger Rick Scott’s count, he’s accepted four debates ahead of Nov. 6.

Nelson’s RSVP’d to just one.

In a dig at the sitting senator, Scott suggested on Twitter earlier on Monday that Nelson accept more debates.

Attorney, political appointee refused to take ‘You’re Fired’ for an answer

A Tampa landlord says a Land O’Lakes attorney mishandled a foreclosure case, then wouldn’t stop negotiating the settlement after she got fired.

Two companies led by Anton Ludwig Philipp allege in a lawsuit that attorney Chandra Hosler provided incompetent counsel in a commercial foreclosure case.

North Tampa MHP previously hired Hosler to represent the company when creditors sued to foreclose on a mobile home park on 142nd Avenue in Tampa.

Over the course of that case, North Tampa MHP officials say Hosler delayed a resolution to the matter while pressuring the company to meet her own monetary demands. Philipp in January filed a complaint against Hosler with the Florida Bar.

A new lawsuit filed on behalf of North Tampa MHP and Sunbuild Phase I, another company headed by Philipp, says Hosler’s delays in the case cost the company and led to “severely excessive interest and fees.”

The complaint says after being fired, Hosler sent a $30,800 bill to the clients, and when that wasn’t paid, she refused to withdraw from the foreclosure case.

Moreover, she continued to participate in settlement discussions while running up more bills, the suit says. She eventually filed a lien on the North Tampa MHP property at the center of the case, and began “making rampant threats about legal actions and Florida Bar complaints” on opposing counsel, according to the suit.

Hosler has practiced law in Florida since 2002 and works as an in-house attorney for Geico. She remains a member in good standing with the Florida Bar and has a clean 10-year discipline history.

She’s also enjoyed appointments by Gov. Rick Scott to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board, originally getting tapped to fill a vacancy in 2016, then being reappointed to the position for a full term starting in 2017.

North Tampa MHP and Sunbuild Phase I now seek damages from Hosler for malpractice, tortious interference and breach of fiduciary duty.

Pulse survivors back Bill Nelson, demand gun control

A group of survivors of the 2016 Pulse massacre and family of those killed in the attack have endorsed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election bid.

“There is only one person in this race who cares about us, and that’s Bill Nelson,” said Brandon Wolf, who survived the mass shooting.

Carlos Guillermo Smith

Nelson right now faces a tough re-election challenge from Republican Rick Scott, two-term Governor of the state. Polls show the race consistently close.

Nelson and Scott both went to the scene of Pulse the day of the shooting and remained involved in the response. However, Wolf criticized the Governor for failing to listen to Pulse survivors regarding gun control.

“Just like he has so many times before, Governor Scott turned his back on us,” Wolf said.

Scott mentioned the Pulse shooting in his State of the State address after the attack but angered some survivors by refusing to say victims were gay or LGBT.

That came up in Wolf’s endorsement Saturday. “I’m sorry we were too gay for you,” he said rhetorically to Scott. “I’m sorry we were too brown for you.”

The endorsement comes on the heels of some parents of children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, led by Fred Guttenberg, also endorsing Nelson. Guttenberg attended Saturday’s news conference with Pulse survivors.

A rash of mass shootings in recent years made Florida a poster child for debate about the nation’s gun laws after years of heavy influence from the National Rifle Association on policy here. A number of those directly affected by the tragedy, including Wolf and Guttenberg, became nationally recognized voices on the issue.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw attended the Saturday press conference with Pulse victims as well. Smith, a gay Latino lawmaker from Orlando who has advocated for the Pulse community since the attack, held Scott responsible for continued failures on passing gun reforms.

“After Pulse, we grieved and stood with families to demand action. Now we’re joined by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Who’s next?,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “We cannot afford another NRA-sellout like Rick Scott in the US Senate.”

The Pulse shooting took place in the early hours of June 12, 2016, when a gunman swearing allegiance to the Islamic State started shooting people in the Orlando gay bar with a legally purchased Sig Sauer MCX. Ultimately, 49 people died in addition to the gunman, who was killed by police.

Wolf had been at the club with friends Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and Juan Guerrero, both of whom died in the attack.

Leinonen’s mother, Christine Leinonen, also endorsed Nelson on Saturday.

The grieving mother said lawmakers like Nelson would enact common-sense gun laws to prevent further attacks.

“This is preventable,” she said, according to NBC 2 WESH. “And it’s preventable by electing strong Democrats.”

Leinonen spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 after her son’s death. She also attended Senate debates that year after endorsing Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

Wolf after the shooting became vice president of LGBT advocacy group The Dru Project, a nonprofit named in Drew Leinonen’s memory.

Jeb Bush: Bill Nelson ‘will always vote for more taxes’

Former Gov. Jeb Bush hit the campaign trail this weekend and leveled heavy criticism at U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, saying the Democrat voted “for every liberal idea” when party leadership asked.

Bush stumped Saturday on behalf of one of his successors, Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee challenging Nelson’s re-election this year. And while Bush’s governorship overlapped with Nelson’s first term, Bush did not express much nostalgia from the podium.

“With all due respect to the current incumbent, the United States senator, what has he done?” Bush asked. “I’ve been waiting. I can’t think of anything. He must have done something.”

Then he answered his own question.

“Yes he has,” Bush said. “He has voted for every liberal idea that has made it harder for us to progress as a nation.”

Bush said Nelson sometimes would hedge and “dance” on hard or unpopular decisions during his three terms in the Senate but always buckled when pressured from the left.

“When he is forced to by the leadership of his party, he will always vote for more taxes, more regulation, more government, a weaker national defense.”

That led into a full-throated endorsement for Scott.

Bush rode on Scott’s bus tour, making stops along the way in Miami and optimistically referencing the South Florida region as Scott country on Twitter.

He also showed himself on Scott’s campaign bus with Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, members of another South Florida political family.

The event came a day after former President George W. Bush, Jeb’s older brother, appeared at a Tampa fundraiser supporting Scott, according to News Channel 8 WFLA.

Of note, Jeb Bush did not originally back Scott’s ambitions when the Naples executive first ran for governor, instead preferring then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. Of course, the governor quickly backed Scott after his surprise primary win in 2010.

Scott has remained a figure with an outsider mythos, becoming an ally of President Donald Trump, while the Bushes remain the mascots of the establishment (and not such allies of Trump).

But Bush’s arrival on the campaign trail for Scott shows that in the Senate race the sometimes disparate factions of the GOP share an enthusiasm for the current governor’s Senate ambitions.

Incidentally, Bush himself rebuffed efforts to recruit him to a Senate race after his time in Tallahassee drew to a close. He rebuffed calls to run in 2010.

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