Rick Scott Archives - Page 2 of 372 - Florida Politics

State red tide funding soars to $13 million

Gov. Rick Scott is putting another $4 million toward red tide funding for local communities impacted by the outbreak.

The Tuesday announcement brings the total Florida Department of Environmental Protection funding available so far to $13 million.

Red tide has been spreading north along Florida’s Gulf Coast for much of the late summer. It’s plagued Pinellas County beaches for about two weeks, bringing with it mounds of dead fish, rotten stench and stifling respiratory discomfort.

Would-be beachgoers have stayed indoors, meaning local businesses are bleeding revenue during what should be a busy month as Floridians enjoy the final weeks of swimming and sunbathing before fall temperatures begin to drop.

The DEP has already awarded $1.3 million to Pinellas County and more than $1.5 million to Sarasota County and last month declared a state of emergency.

“In Florida, we know that when red tide makes it to our shores, as it has for generations, this naturally-occurring algae can have unexpected and prolonged impacts on our Gulf Coast,” Scott said in a statement.

Red tide has become an issue in Scott’s campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill NelsonAn angry crowd of Scott critics booed him from a Cuban restaurant in Venice this week with signs emblazoned with criticisms including those calling him “Red Tide Rick.” Those critics blame Scott’s environmental policies for polluted water in Lake Okeechobee that has been making its way into the Gulf. Scott and his supporters contend red tide is naturally occurring and has been since at least the 1800s.

In addition to Pinellas and Sarasota funding, the state has also allocated $750,000 for Manatee County, $190,000 for Collier County, $3.9 million for Lee County and $700,000 for Martin County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced this week it was providing $1.2 million to enhance research and production of redfish at the FWC’s Stock Enhancement Research Facility at Port Manatee.

Crews along affected beaches continue to use private vessels including shrimping boats to scoop dead fish from the water before they reach the shoreline. They are also working to treat larger marine animals like dolphins and manatees sickened by the bacteria as well as infected fish. 

Rick Scott takes Puerto Rico praise, defends red tide efforts

If Puerto Rico didn’t get what it neaded after Hurricane Maria, that’s a learning experience for everyone and doesn’t reflect on all that Florida Gov. Rick Scott did, and if Florida is experiencing its worst red tides in decades, that doesn’t reflect all that Scott did either.

At a U.S. Senate campaign rally in the Puerto Rico sector of Orlando Tuesday, Scott defended his administration’s record for addressing the water management issues that lead to the Lake Okeechobee discharges, and his administration’s increased investments in efforts to study address  the  algae blooms. But he also  blamed nature for the red tides and said for now only easterly winds could fix them.

Scott also took praise for his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico from the commonwealth’s Lt. Gov. Luis Rivera Marín  and other supportive Puerto Ricans in Orlando, who said he helped make life easer for Puerto Ricans on the island and for those who evacuated to Florida.

“It was thanks to the leadership of Rick Scott, a friend, a friend of Puerto Rico,” Rivera Marín said.

And during a brief press availability Scott highlighted Florida’s efforts to help its neighbor, and allowed that if the hurricane response was not all it could be, it was a learning experience.  He declined to say much more in response to a question about the federal response to Puerto Rico’s difficult recovery. He also did not elaborate on the statements he made last week disagreeing with President Donald Trump. who had suggested all went well, and that death counts were exaggerated by his political opponents.

“What you do is you learn,” Scott said of the response to Hurricane Maria, which hit a year ago Thursday.

“I think all of us can do a better job of, one, getting services faster to Puerto Rico. We know it’s more difficult because it’s an island. We could pre-position things better,” Scott said. “Clearly the island has been struggling with a utility system that was already struggling…. But we have got to get services there faster. Hopefully, everybody has learned how to do that.

“As a U.S. Senator, I’ll do everything I can to help build their economy,” Scott added.

There was no mention during the brief rally of the red tides that plague Florida and led to Scott facing large protests in his home terrotory of southwest Florida earlier, except from a media question. And on that, too, Scott suggested his administration was doing all that could be expected and more, touting increases over time in environmental spending. He also took shots at his opponent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whom he said was doing nothing in Washington.

But ultimately Scott blamed nature, and said that the only thing that could help now is easterly winds.

“It’s horrible. The red tide is horrible,” Scott said. “I think all of us hope the red tide would be gone. It’s naturally occuring. It’s part of the gulf. It’s been around. We’ve had records of it since the 1840s. We’ve done a lot. But it’s not gone, right?

“We need really good easterly winds right now,” he added.

As for the protesters who reportedly all but overwhelmed his stops in southwest Florida, Scott offered that they were exercizing their rights.

After the rally, at the Rigo Tile Gallery Orlando, there were just a dozen or so protesters of the state’s response to the red tides and algae blooms. The protesters actually may have caused less of a scene than a few heated exchanges that took place prior to the rally in the overwhelmed parking lot, as the campaign’s advance people tried to control the flow, with traffic gridlocking in the lot and backing up onto the busy Goldenrod Road.

‘Nelson? … Nelson?’ Rick Scott calls out Bill Nelson’s absences in new ad

Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new ad, essentially accusing his Democratic opponent for U.S. Senate — incumbent Bill Nelson — of pulling a ‘Ferris Bueller‘ during his time in Washington.

The ad, titled “Empty Chair,” highlights Nelson’s numerous missed Senate Armed Services Committee meetings during his time in the U.S. Senate, and once again bashes Nelson for his lengthy political career.

“Bill Nelson’s been running for office in Florida since 1972,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Can you name one thing he’s done? I’ll keep waiting.

“Bill Nelson votes his party line 89 percent of the time, and that’s when he bothers to show up at all. Nelson skipped 45 percent of the hearings on national security. National security!

“Bill Nelson doesn’t write laws; he doesn’t even show up. Bill Nelson’s chair is empty. Even when he’s in it.”

Ryan Brown, a spokesperson from the Nelson campaign, issued a statement bashing Scott over the ad’s claims.

“This is nothing more than another false attack by Rick Scott who is nothing more than a phony politician,” Brown said.

He added Nelson had “attended about 80 percent of the Armed Services meetings this year and 86 percent last year. This isn’t an ad, it’s propaganda — and it’s another reason why you just can’t trust Rick Scott.”

The ad’s release comes as Scott is embarking on a bus tour to push his “Make Washington Work” 10-point plan. That tour has seen some hiccups as Gov. Scott has faced criticism over his handling of the red tide issue.

The race between Scott and Nelson

RealClearPolitics currently gives Scott a lead of less than two percentage points, according to an aggregation of available polling. FiveThirtyEight sees Nelson as the slight favorite, projecting him to win by just over one percentage point.

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

The U.S. 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, a Republican 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 Democratic 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.”

Before the allegations against Kavanaugh became 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, 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.

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