Rick Scott – Page 3 – Florida Politics

‘This practice needs to stop now,’ Rick Scott says of taking away children

“This practice needs to stop now,” declared Gov. Rick Scott in strong opposition to President Donald Trump‘s immigration policy leading to the separation of children from families,

In a letter Tuesday to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Scott claimed no direct knowledge of what is going on at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, citing only “unconfirmed reports” that it may be housing children forcibly taken from their parents under Trump’s new zero-tolerance policy against undocumented immigrants.

But the Republican governor also made it clear he breaks with Trump and much of the Republican Party regarding the continuation of the policy, which has led immigration officials to split up families and send the children, even toddlers and babies, to live in big detention centers alone, while their parents are held and prosecuted somewhere else for illegally entering the country and prepared for deportation.

“I have been very clear that I absolutely do not agree with the practice of separating children from their families,” Scott wrote. “This practice needs to stop now.”

However, he did not make it clear whom exactly he is blaming. He concluded the letter by writing, “It is extremely frustrating that, after decades of inaction by the federal government, many innocent children are now paying the price for the failures of Washington. Congress must address our immigration system immediately.”

Scott asked the federal department to immediately notify federal, state, and local officials of undocumented children, separated from parents, who are coming to or placed in Florida. Scott also inquired about providing health care, education, and social services.

He also offered Florida’s help to reunite children with their parents.

Scott did not call for closure of the Homestead facility, nor did he make any references to events earlier Tuesday when Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — Scott’s Democratic opponent in this year’s U.S. Senate election — and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were denied entry into the facility to see how the children being housed there are doing.

Nelson’s re-election campaign spokesman Ryan Brown was unimpressed with Scott’s letter, saying if he wanted the policy to change, he communicated with the wrong federal official.

“President Trump could end this policy with the stroke of a pen,” Ryan said in a written statement. “If Gov. Scott really cared about these kids, he would have written this letter to Trump asking him to end this policy instead of asking HHS to confirm what we all already know.”

Reportedly, the Homestead center now has space for up to 1,000 children. What is unclear is how many individuals are actually being held there, and how many were actually separated from their parents. Scott noted in his letter that the facility had been used in the past to house minors who had crossed the border unaccompanied by parents. A wave of such migration infamously occurred in 2015, and many of the unaccompanied children who were detained then were sent to Homestead.

Nelson reported Tuesday afternoon that federal officials confirmed to him that 94 of the children currently held in Homestead were separated from their families.

In his letter, Scott expressed no direct knowledge of those children.

“In February of this year, the federal government notified Congress, including Florida’s congressional delegation, and state and local officials that they were planning to reopen the shelter in Homestead,” he wrote. “Recently, we received unconfirmed reports that this facility is now potentially holding children who have been forcibly removed from their families as a result of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal entry into the United States.

“Reunifying the children who have been separated from their families is very important, and the State of Florida stands ready to assist in this process,” Scott continued. “Please inform me on any measures the state can facilitate to help the reunification process.”

Gwen Graham seeks Rick Scott’s records on Florida’s federal family separation facilities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is going after state public records on what Gov. Rick Scott‘s office might have known about the immigrant child detention facility in Homestead and “any other facilities in the state.”

Her public records request submitted Tuesday declares that such detention facilities have created “a moral crisis.” Graham is demanding to know what Scott’s office knows about transfers of unaccompanied children to Homestead and when he and his office knew it.

In a news release, Graham also called for Scott to take a stand against the federal policy: challenging President Donald Trump in court and dispatching the state’s legal and child welfare advocates to assist the children in detention.

She charged that the children separated from their parents and sent to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children are “being held hostage by Trump for political purposes.

It a “sick game,” Graham added.

“Seeing photos of these children, listening to their screams, I think of my own children and how hard I would fight if anyone tried to separate us,” Graham stated in a news release. “Floridians deserve to know what Rick Scott knows about the Trump administration using our state in their political plot to separate families and what he’s doing to assist or stop Trump from bringing children to our state.”

Graham is requesting all records between the state of Florida and the federal government concerning the child detention facility in Homestead as well as any others in the state.

She’s seeking records relating to the federal policy begun in April of prosecuting almost all undocumented immigrants, a process that leads to the parents essentially being jailed while the children are sent off alone to live in harsh detention centers without their parents. The resulting stories, pictures, and videos of terrified and anguished children have horrified much of the world, resulting in widespread outrage and finger-pointing. Yet the process continues.

Scott issued a statement saying he does not favor the policy, but also pointing fingers and not calling for any immediate action to stop it.

Graham and almost all the Democrats have called for immediate actions to stop the policy. Her public records request also is a response to reports that the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children may be holding up to 1,000 children mostly brought from the southwest border under this policy. She’s also referencing unconfirmed reports that there may be other such facilities either in Florida or in the works for Florida.

Graham called on Scott to stop President Donald Trump‘s administration from using Florida in their plans to separate families and to immediately take action to assist the children reportedly being transported to Florida from the border.

“Floridians need more than just words — they need action. Governor Rick Scott should immediately challenge Donald Trump in court to stop him from using Florida as a pawn in this sick game of separating families and detaining children,” Graham stated in the news release. “If Scott won’t stand up to Trump, I will. Unless the Trump administration reverses this cruel and inhuman practice, one of my first acts on my first day as governor will be to take Trump to court.”

In addition to urging Scott to take legal action, Graham urged other actions:

— Immediately asking Attorney General Pam Bondi and his Scott’s general counsel to coordinate with all state attorneys, law firms engaged by the state of Florida, legal aid organizations, and Guardian Ad Litem programs to obtain volunteer advocates for each of the children transported to Florida.

— Immediately order the Florida Department of Children and Families, and all of its community contractors, to coordinate with the federal government in providing the best possible temporary living conditions for the kids transported to Florida and in quickly reuniting them with their families.

“These children are so strong — but we can’t expect them to carry this pain alone. They need someone to be their voice in court proceedings. They need someone to ensure they’re being cared for while separated from their families,” Graham added. “We know Trump won’t do it — so now is the time for our state’s leaders to step up and show compassion. These are children. Regardless of politics, we each have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to help them.”

AARP polls Florida on Donald Trump approval, U.S. Senate race

President Donald Trump‘s job approval rating is split 48-49 percent among Florida registered voters, “higher than how he performed nationally,” according to a new POLITICO/AARP poll released Tuesday.

That rating was 43 percent approving and 52 percent disapproving, said Tyler Sinclair, managing director of client services at Morning Consult, which conducted both polls. Sinclair and others discussed the poll results in a conference call.

And older Floridians, specifically voters age 50 and over, “are more likely to give Trump higher marks” — 51 percent approve the way he handles the presidency and 44 percent disapprove.

The poll “surveyed 1,199 Florida voters on May 29-30 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points,” a news release explained. “For voters 50 and older, the poll surveyed 676 Florida voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.”

In the U.S. Senate matchup between term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, they’re “virtually neck and neck,” with Scott polling at 40 percent and Nelson at 39 percent. Importantly, 21 percent said they “haven’t made up their mind yet.”

Older Floridians are more likely to vote for Scott, by 44 percent-35 percent, according to the poll.

In other topics, 76 percent overall said health care was their No. 1 issue in deciding on a candidate, with Social Security at 73 percent. National security was most important to 70 percent of interviewees, and the economy polled at 69 percent.

Unsurprisingly, older Florida voters said Social Security was their “top policy issue,” at 82 percent, with health care coming in at 78 percent.

The poll comes soon after AARP released its 7th Annual Legislative Voting Record for Florida, showing how lawmakers voted in the 2018 Session “on issues of interest to older Floridians.”

The voting record provides information about legislative votes based on broad topics, such as regulated utilities, the state budget, health care and supportive services, prescription drugs, consumer protections and livable communities.

The complete version of the 2018 voting record can be viewed and downloaded here

AARP is the “nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with nearly 38 million members, dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age,” the group’s website says.

Leslie Dougher files another election complaint against Bill Nelson campaign

Former Republican Party of Florida Chair Leslie Dougher has reinvented herself as a gadfly for Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election campaign in recent months, including protesting at his events.

Dougher, Gov. Rick Scott‘s choice for RPOF chair years back, has also not been averse to filing elections complaints against Scott’s opponent.

January saw a Senate Ethics Complaint filed against Nelson, for allegedly campaigning in a government building.

And June sees a Federal Elections Commission complaint about political signs near a Nelson May 29th fundraiser that lacked disclaimers.

The complaint asserts that it is a “logical presumption” that the campaign “paid for or authorized” the signs.

Dougher’s last complaint was deemed a “political stunt” by Team Nelson. We are reaching out now for what likely will be a similar comment.

Judicial election fight remains in holding pattern

Jacksonville attorney David Trotti

An appeals court Monday kept in place a stay in a legal battle about whether a Northeast Florida circuit judge should be elected or appointed and refused to quickly send the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

Jacksonville attorney David Trotti filed the lawsuit this spring, contending that an upcoming vacancy created by the retirement of 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Foster should be filled in the November election, rather than through an appointment by Gov. Rick Scott.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed with Trotti, but the Scott administration appealed, triggering an automatic stay of Dodson’s ruling. Trotti then went back to Dodson, who ruled that the stay should be lifted.

But the 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday quashed Dodson’s order to lift the stay and said the case should remain on hold until the appellate court can rule on the underlying issues.

Also, Monday’s decision rejected a request by Trotti to send the case to the Supreme Court. Foster was expected to leave office Jan. 7, 2019, which would be the end of his term, because of a mandatory retirement age.

But on April 2, Foster sent a letter to Scott making the retirement effective Dec. 31, four business days ahead of schedule.

The Scott administration takes the position that the governor’s acceptance of a judicial resignation before the start of an election-qualifying period creates a vacancy that will be filled by appointment, rather than election.

The 4th Judicial Circuit is made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. Trotti, who tried to qualify to run for the seat, contends it should be filled in the November election.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

New Rick Scott ad urges voters to ‘think again’ about Bill Nelson’s independence

Gov. Rick Scott, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, urges Florida voters to “think again” when it comes to an ad claiming Sen. Bill Nelson is an “independent” voter in the Senate.

“Nelson votes with Democrats over 90 percent of the time,” the digital ad released Tuesday by Scott for Florida asserts.

“He voted with Obama to cut billions from Medicare,” the ad continues.

The ad also noted Nelson’s vote against last year’s Republican tax reform package, and the Senator’s recent about-face on backing judicial nominee Allen Winsor.

“Bill Nelson isn’t fighting for Florida,” concludes the narrator. “He’s only fighting for Democrats.”

This digital spot is the latest ad in an unrelenting barrage of Scott ads against Nelson.

Bill Nelson slams Rick Scott for failure to condemn border family separation policy

Even as Republicans (such as former Gov. Jeb Bush) decry President Donald Trump‘s policy of separating migrant children from families at the Mexican border, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is framing Gov. Rick Scott‘s response as lacking.

Scott has stated his opposition on the policy, with the most forceful declaration on Monday, as the Governor and U.S. Senate candidate blamed the issue on “bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government” and not the president implementing the policy.

“They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos,” Scott said. “Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime.”

This wasn’t enough for Nelson.

“As thousands of kids sit and sleep in warehouses, separated from their parents, Rick Scott — once again — refuses to stand up to the Trump Administration’s cruel and inhumane policy of separating families,” Nelson’s spox Carlie Waibel asserted.

“Bill Nelson is fighting in Congress to stop the separation of families — co-sponsoring the Keep Families Together Act — and holding the Trump Administration accountable, while Rick Scott plays politics with these children’s lives. It’s time for Rick Scott to stand up to his friend Donald Trump and support legislation to keep families together,” Waibel added.

In media encounters both Monday and last week, Scott has not mentioned Trump’s name.

Scott’s positioning is apace with that of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, but seemingly ambivalent compared to the forceful policy condemnations of many Senate Republicans.

Rick Scott accepts trio of fall debates

Gov. Rick Scott is accepting invitations to participate in three fall debates leading up to the November election, in which he will try to oust incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Among the network hosts: CNN, Telemundo 51 in Miami, and Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 (co-hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute).

Dates and times of the debates are not yet available, though the Scott campaign said they’d take place in the fall — presumably well after the Aug. 28 primary. Neither candidate faces formidable opposition from within their parties. 

The news follows Scott’s campaign announcement that a fourth-consecutive ad attacking Nelson will air across Florida televisions this week. And a healthy bit of criticism of the sitting Senator accompanied news of the debates.

A Scott campaign spokeswoman said the campaign is “curious” to see how Nelson will defend his tenure.

“Bill Nelson continues to be all talk, no action on the issues, but Floridians won’t settle for smoke and mirrors in a debate setting,” said campaign press secretary Lauren Schenone.

A spokeswoman for Nelson’s campaign said they “look forward to debating Rick Scott many times if he will agree to show up and talk about the issues important to Floridians.” Nelson’s camp expects the incumbent to outshine Scott, who they claim “has spent eight years putting himself and his political career ahead of what’s best for Florida.”

Both camps are reviewing other invitations and expect to make similar announcements in the coming months.

Rick Scott rebuts charges that he’d favor removal of pre-existing conditions coverage

In a statement released by his U.S. Senate campaign, Republican Gov. Rick Scott insisted that he continues to support the requirement that health insurers not discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The statement puts Scott at odds with the apparent strategy of President Donald Trump, whose Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated in recent court filings that the U.S. Department of Justice will not defend the pre-existing conditions coverage guaranteed under federal law through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

It also puts Scott at odds with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who added Florida to a list of states suing in that particular federal court case to get the Affordable Care Act, including the pre-existing conditions provisions, overturned.

Last week Scott also stated he supported non-discriminatory coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but he declined to discuss the lawsuit.

Democrats have been seeking to tie Scott to Trump. The latest attempt being opposition to the pre-existing conditions law, one of the most popular provisions of ObamaCare. But on Monday Scott delivered a statement refuting that he would support efforts to eliminate the provision, charging that Democrats were doing so falsely.

“My position has not changed – I do not agree with efforts to remove pre-existing conditions,” Scott stated in a news release issued Monday by his campaign. “I’ve continued to say that it is important to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and that every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, should have the ability to buy any kind of insurance they want. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much, but keeping pre-existing provisions should be a part of any healthcare reform. I disagree with efforts to dismantle protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Earlier this month, Sessions’ Department of Justice signaled that it would not defend the law’s pre-existing conditions provisions, though U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials have said they consider pre-existing conditions to continue to be official federal policy.

Florida is among the 20 states that brought that lawsuit against Health and Human Services, and Florida continues to be a party seeking to terminate Obamacare through that suit.

Scott’s opponent in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and all 11 Florida Democrats in Congress sent a letter to Scott last week urging him to withdraw Florida from the lawsuit, and to support pre-existing conditions.

“Having failed multiple times to rip health coverage away through Congress, the Trump Administration is now attempting to use the court system to take the guarantee of health coverage away from 7.8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions. This is wrong,” The Democrats’ letter states.

Nelson is meeting Monday morning with constituents with pre-existing conditions to talk about the potential policy change.

Scott’s campaign noted that Florida was brought into the federal lawsuit by Bondi who independently has such authority to do so, and was not brought by Scott.

Scott’s campaign also maintains that his position on pre-existing conditions has not changed, that he has consistently supported keeping them in any health care reform. What Scott seeks, the campaign outlined, is: removing Obamacare’s “excessive mandates and taxes;” allowing insurance to be sold across state lines; preserving the provisions requiring pre-existing conditions and that young adults may on their parents’ plans; and allowing families to buy the healthcare they want.

“It looks like Bill Nelson and his Democratic party loyalists new favorite talking point is an attempt to call out Gov. Rick Scott for not taking a position on preexisting conditions, while ignoring clear and documented evidence to the contrary,” Scott’s campaign stated in a news release.

David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, argued that Scott’s long support for repeal of the Affordable Care Act and his support for last year’s Republican health care plan, which would have cut coverage for pre-existing conditions, bely his stated support for the provision.

“Rick Scott cannot escape his record just because it’s deeply unpopular with Florida voters,” Bergstein said in a written statement. “He spent years opposing protections for pre-existing conditions, and then in 2017 he bragged that he actually helped craft the GOP’s health care bill that would slash coverage for pre-existing conditions while giving himself a tax break.”

Father’s Day message: Florida Republicans defend family separations at Mexican border

Here in Florida, our politicians message around Father’s Day with tweets and Facebook messages of pure, uncut sentimentality.

Yet, at various outposts near the U.S./Mexican border, a different narrative unfolds between parents and children.

President Donald Trump’s administration is under scrutiny for its decision to warehouse immigrant children in former Walmarts and other holding areas. With space at a premium, he mulls building Joe Arpaio-style tent cities for overflow.

In the last six weeks, 2,000 children — at least — have been separated from their families. And it is hard to find a Republican who will directly say the policy is wrong.

This outlet has asked Florida politicians for their takes. Both Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have fallen far short of expressly condemning the practice, saying that warehousing migrant minors wouldn’t be necessary if the immigration system weren’t “messed up,” with “secure borders” being the only possible fix.

On Saturday, at a gubernatorial campaign event for Commissioner Putnam, Jacksonville’s Rep. John Rutherford — a former Jacksonville Sheriff — defended the practice regarding illegal border crossers.

However, he noted that a piece of immigration legislation that he supports in the House, championed by Speaker Paul Ryan, would end the practice in exchange for border security measures prioritized by the President.

“If these children come with parents and they’re seeking asylum, then they’ve come here in a legal way, and they should be housed together because no law has been broken,” Rutherford began.

“However, if they come across the border illegally, the parents have broken the law. Just like an individual here in Jacksonville when I was sheriff, if he broke the law, I put him in jail. That separated him from his children,” Rutherford added.

“I believe that criminals go to jail,” Rutherford added. “Not children, but criminals.”

Rutherford, contra the critics, does not see the internment camps the federal government has built for children as prisons.

“If you look at the way they’re being housed, they’re being fed, they’re being taken care of. They have playrooms, I understand. All of that — they’re not in prison,” Rutherford said, adding that they “shouldn’t be put into prison with their parents.”

“You certainly don’t want them housed with pedophiles and others who might be in that situation,” Rutherford noted.

Rutherford told us that he does support the so-called “compromise bill currently in the House, a piece of immigration legislation that actually would end the border separations of parents and children.

“I think there’s some real possibility there that we may be able to get to 218,” Rutherford said.

“If you’re really concerned about border security, it’s in that bill. We’re going to commit $25 million to build that wall where the wall is necessary. Other areas it will be an electronic surveillance type situation. We’ll hire boots on the ground, to capture those who may be coming across,” Rutherford said.

Access roads and other necessities “to secure the southern border are in this bill,” Rutherford noted.

“And there are triggers,” Rutherford added. “If a future Congress does not follow through with that funding, the visas for the DACA are not released.”

“Assuming the border is taken care of, and the DACA recipients get a five-year legal status, not a Green Card, they get legal status, are able to stay in this country and work … folks who are here getting educated, getting their doctoral degree and Master’s and all of that, we won’t have to send them back,” Rutherford noted.

“Those who are concerned about the migrant population, the immigrant population, it’s in this bill also. The plan is to address the immigrant worker issue,” Rutherford said, and E-Verify.

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