Rick Scott Archives - Page 5 of 372 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott says he’ll consult his successor on Supreme Court vacancies

Gov. Rick Scott moved Tuesday to defuse litigation over his authority to replace the Florida Supreme Court’s liberal wing by offering to confer with his successor on candidates to fill the seats of Fred LewisPeggy Quince and Barbara Pariente.

Scott had said he planned to announce their replacements on Jan. 7, his last day in office, which coincides with their retirement date.

Instead, he took a page from the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, who reached a similar accord with incoming Republican Jeb Bush in 1998.

Scott emphasized that precedent in a press release announcing his move.

“The Governor’s expectation is that he and the governor-elect – like Gov. Chiles and then Gov.-elect Bush – will agree on the selection of three justices who will serve with distinction,” the release says.

“Gov. Scott will not appoint any justice to the Florida Supreme Court until the governor-elect has had an opportunity to interview the nominees and review their references and qualifications.”

In a historical irony, Quince is the last justice appointed through such consultations.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause filed suit in June, asking the courts to block Scott appointments. Their unstated concern was that Scott, a Naples Republican, would pack the court with more conservatives.

In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court said in December that it couldn’t step into the controversy because the Governor hadn’t taken any action yet.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, usually a swing vote, joined with the court’s conservatives: Justices Charles CanadyRicky Polston and Alan Lawson.

Pariente and Quince concurred, but Lewis dissented and called Scott’s proposed actions “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The League and Common Cause had argued that the Governor can’t replace the justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day they retire, and their final judicial terms last till midnight.

Scott didn’t mention the litigation in his press release, but did say the retiring justices were “constitutionally ineligible to serve beyond the expiration of their current terms.”

The nominating and appointment process can take as long as four months, including background screening and reviews of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary records, Scott said.

“Beginning the process to fill these vacancies right now follows the practice of previous governors. Florida’s Supreme Court is so important to Floridians, and we will work together to select the most qualified justices to faithfully serve our state,” he added.

“With more than six decades of combined service on the court, these three justices have made their mark on the state’s jurisprudence. To minimize or avoid any period of vacancy on the Supreme Court, the nominating process must begin well in advance of these vacancies.”

In an email, the campaign communications director for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Governor, disagreed.

“In our understanding of the Constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices,” Geoff Burgan said.

Sept. 11 also brings thoughts of hurricanes past, future, and climate change

Now that Sept. 11 has, on some level, a double function as an anniversary and memorial, Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres led a moment of remembrance in Orlando for the 2011 terrorist attacks — then for hurricanes of the past, present and future, raising concerns of the long-term threat to Florida and the islands posed by climate change.

Torres, a former New York City police officer with bonds to many of those lost in the 9/11 attacks, paid respects at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park and then turned to the more immediate threats, that of Hurricane Irma which hit Florida with its full force one year ago, Hurricane Florence, set to strike North Carolina Thursday, and hurricanes of the future.

Torres, who represents south Orange County and Osceola County, and Rollins College environmental studies Assistant Professor Leslie Poole pushed alarm Tuesday that Florence, Irma, and Hurricanes Maria and Harvey last year may become the norm as climate change warms the oceans, leading to bigger, stronger, slower-moving, more rain-producing, and more dangerous storms.

“One year ago Hurricane Irma revealed what the future has in store for Floridians, as warmer waters brought by climate change produced stronger, more dangerous hurricanes, wider than the state of Florida and roughly the size of Texas,” Torres said. “Irma threatened every community in our state.”

The issue that brought Torres, Poole and a small handful of activists, led by For Our Future Florida, together Tuesday had to do with the prospect that Irma, Florence, Maria and Harvey may be precursors of a future. Poole, who described herself as an environmental historian, discussed the science trends, declaring, “climate change is real, and trying to ignore it is only going to lead to bigger problems for Florida.”

Torres pursued political trends, essentially accusing Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans running for elections this fall of denying climate change and thereby denying pursuit of strategies to address it.

He also praised Scott’s opponent, Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum for their positions on climate change, saying Florida cannot afford to not change leadership.

“More than anything Irma highlighted how unprepared our leaders have left us in the face of stronger hurricanes,” Torres said. “That shouldn’t come as a surprise from a governor who banned employees from even discussing climate change,” he said.

“We live in a state uniquely at risk from climate change. Even now there are three hurricanes threatening the United States,” Torres continued, noting the tracks of Florence, Isaac and Helene. “The time to kick the can down the road to the next generation ends now.”

Poole said there may yet be time to address climate change so that enormous hurricanes don’t become a permanent norm for Florida, other coastal states, and the Caribbean. But she insisted there is no mistaking that the recent enormous hurricanes were not previously the norm.

“Storms are getting bigger, and more violent, and moving slower, and dumping more water,” she said.

Rick Scott touts education accomplishments in new ad

Days after Sen. Bill Nelson released an ad charging that Gov. Rick Scott has “failed” when it’s come to education, Scott may have the last laugh — with his own spot touting Florida accomplishments in the sphere.

A new spot from Scott, per the campaign, “highlights how Florida’s incredible economic turnaround under Governor Scott has led to unprecedented achievement and funding for education in Florida.”

The script asserts that Florida’s “strong economy” has led the state to lead in “fourth-grade reading and math scores … eighth-grade reading … High school AP classes and college education … ranked first in the nation.”

Scott links that to “our highest education funding ever,” which is a claim that doesn’t necessarily hold true in terms of real dollars.

As Politifact spotlighted in March, Scott contends that “for the sixth straight year [in the budget process], we have secured record funding for K-12 and state universities.”

The site noted that in real dollars, that didn’t hold true, and over the last decade, schools have had more unfunded mandates, such as increased safety measures and mental health, that weren’t the case pre-recession.

Bill Nelson, Rick Scott agree to first debate

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott have agreed to face each other in an Oct. 2 debate, Nelson’s campaign announced Monday evening.

Hosted by Telemundo 51 in Miami, the debate will be broadcasted in network stations in Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm and Orlando, according to Nelson’s campaign. A set time for the forum was not announced. It will be moderated by Telemundo 51’s senior political reporter Marilys Llanos and WTVJ NBC6’s senior news anchor Jackie Nespral.

It will be a first-time square off between Scott, a Republican, and Nelson, the Democratic incumbent. Scott, who entered the Senate race in April, posts a formidable challenge to Nelson. It’s is a virtual tie so far, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week.

The planned debate is one of three Scott accepted in June. The other hosts: CNN and Jacksonville’s WJXT.

Early in August, Scott attacked Nelson with a digital ad accusing the sitting senator of debate dodging.

Nelson, however, framed his acceptance of the debate as Scott “finally” agreeing to take the stage alongside him.

Scott responded to Nelson, pressuring him to accept the other two debates.

Nelson’s campaign claims it is “reviewing other forums,” including the CNN debate, which would take place in mid-October.

Rick Scott offers help to states as hurricane looms

Gov. Rick Scott offered resources and assistance Monday to the governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia as powerful Hurricane Florence threatened the Southeast U.S. coast.

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials have also been in contact with South Carolina, the governor’s office said.

Due to the storm, Scott waived weight requirements for emergency supply and response vehicles through Sept. 17 and put the Florida National Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers on standby to help in areas affected by the storm.

Florence is one of three hurricanes spinning in the Atlantic, and a disturbance is brewing in the northwest Caribbean Sea that is moving slowly northwest near the Yucatan Peninsula, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florence is expected to cause dangerous surf conditions and life-threatening rip currents along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

New elections complaint for Rick Scott ‘New Republican’ PAC

Liberal PAC End Citizens United on Monday filed a FEC complaint against Governor Rick Scott, his Senate campaign and New Republican PAC.

The charge: “illegal coordination resulting in excessive in-kind campaign contributions to Scott’s Senate campaign from New Republican PAC.”

“New Republican PAC ran television ads within the 120 day period following Scott’s tenure as chairman of the Super PAC, likely relying upon non-public, strategic campaign information obtained through Scott’s involvement with the PAC,” the group asserts.

This is the second such FEC complaint toward Scott’s PAC (which was repurposed for his Senate bid earlier this year).

Scott had chaired the PAC, then relinquished that chair during a pre-candidacy period ahead of his filing. The PAC ran ads targeting Nelson, and the complaint contends these are “illegal in-kind coordinated contributions by running ads that likely used strategic campaign information obtained through Scott’s involvement with the PAC.”

For End Citizens United, the misuse of the PAC has been an ongoing concern.

The PAC released a poll of the Senate race Mar. 29.

Gov. Scott entered the Senate race on Apr. 9; at the time the poll was conducted and the memo was circulated, the PAC was still devoted to President Donald Trump.

When asked about the PAC previously, Scott disclaimed responsibility.

Scott disclaimed responsibility for the PAC in Jacksonville Wednesday.

“As you know, I’m only responsible for the campaign account. The campaign account is what we’re responsible for,” Scott said.

“You’d have to reach out to people at New Republican. We’re very transparent in what we do,” Scott added. “I’m responsible for the campaign account. You have to separate it when you have federal races.”

Scott was coy before his candidacy when discussing New Republican, for which he was heavily fundraising ahead of his run.

“You should — you know, there’s polls that come out publicly. You should talk to the people who want to be pundits,” Scott advised in February.

In 2017, the PAC was largely fundraising from traditional state donors. In comments to this reporter, Scott gave no indication of the committee’s current purpose.

The PAC is “focused on how do we rebrand the Republican Party,” Scott said.

“The Republican Party ought to be the party of open government, choice, bottom up economy,” Scott said. ” … Younger voters should be voting Republican. We should target everybody because they believe what we believe in. People want a job.”

For the New Republican PAC, the journey has been at least as interesting as the destination.

Five Florida public universities crack top 100

Florida universities continued their academic climb in the latest U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings, placing five schools in the country’s top 100 public universities for the first time.

The 2019 rankings, which were released Monday, included:

— The University of Florida moved from No. 9 to No. 8 on the list, continuing its quest to become one of the top five public research universities.

— Florida State University jumped seven spots to No. 26, just outside its goal of reaching the top 25 public universities.

— The University of South Florida, recently designated by the state as a “preeminent” research university, improved to No. 58, up 10 spots from last year.

— The University of Central Florida was ranked at No. 87, compared to No. 90 last year.

— Florida International University recorded the largest statistical climb, reaching No. 100 among public research universities, up 22 spots from last year.

In other U.S. News rankings, New College of Florida improved to No. 5 on the list of public liberal-arts colleges and improved 11 spots to No. 90 among all public and private liberal-arts schools.

Florida A&M University was ranked No. 9 among public and private historically black colleges and universities, a decline from last year’s No. 6 ranking. The school was ranked second on the list of the top public HBCUs.

The closely watched U.S. News rankings are based on 15 measurements aimed at evaluating the academic quality of the institutions. The measures include graduation rates, retention rates, class sizes, peer reputation and faculty resources.

For the first time this year, the rankings included a “social mobility” factor that measures the performance of students who receive Pell Grants. The federal grants are awarded to students who have annual family incomes below $50,000, with most below $20,000.

The performances of Pell students, who constituted 38 percent of the systemwide enrollment in Florida in the fall of 2016, was one of the factors that helped the state schools rise in the national rankings.

Its largest impact may have been at Florida International, where more than 50 percent of students are on Pell grants. FIU was the only Florida school where the Pell students had a higher six-year graduation rate, 57 percent, compared to non-grant students, 56 percent.

“Our improvement demonstrates that our focus on student success — timely graduation and preparation to take or create great jobs — is making a difference for our students and their families,” FIU President Mark Rosenberg said.

Florida State University reported a 77 percent six-year graduation rate for its Pell students, ranking it No. 22 among public research universities.

“That’s the story of FSU,” Provost Sally McRorie said. “We are creating an environment where everyone can succeed because we provide the kinds of resources that can help people not only find their path but also provide them lots of support and challenges to be better.”

The University of Florida reported an 85 percent six-year graduation rate for its Pell students, the highest in the system.

The rise in the national rankings dovetails with efforts by the Legislature, with backing from Gov. Rick Scott, to increase funding for the university system, while keeping tuition low and expanding need- and merit-based aid for students.

At the same time, much of the new funding is tied to performance standards, developed by the system’s Board of Governors, including measuring graduation and student-retention rates, which are also key metrics for the U.S. News evaluation.

One impact of the funding increases has been the ability of the universities to hire more faculty, which, in turn, helps reduce class sizes and increases research activity.

The University of Florida has hired 100 new faculty through “preeminence” funding since 2013 and has hired another 200 faculty as part of an initiative announced last year, the school reported. In the U.S. News evaluation, UF has improved its student-to-faculty ratio from 20-1 to 19-1.

“The newest rankings are confirmation that we are making good choices and investing in the right places,” UF President Kent Fuchs said.

Florida State University had 240 new faculty members this fall and has improved its student-to-faculty ratio to 22-1, compared to 25-1 two years ago, the school reported.

Although the U.S. News rankings have their critics, the annual report highlights performance trends over time.

In the case of the University of South Florida, the reports have underscored a steady improvement, with the latest rankings showing an increase of 36 spots among public research universities over the last half-dozen years.

“USF is pleased to see significant gains in our national reputational scores,” said Ralph Wilcox, the USF provost and executive vice president.

Bill Nelson: Rick Scott ‘is a creature of Trump’

In the past week or so, President Donald Trump‘s presence in statewide Florida Republican election politics may have all but vanished, leading Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday to essentially say that his opponent Gov. Rick Scott might run but can’t hide from his past with Trump.

“My opponent is acting as if Trump has the plague. You can’t turn away from being a creature of Trump, which is exactly what he is,” Nelson said.

Nelson was responding to a question about whether he expected his campaign would push the message that Scott and Trump have been close now that polls show Trump with a low popularity among independent voters, and that Republican candidates such as Scott do not seem to be highlighting their relationships in recent events. In particular, at a campaign kickoff for state candidates last week in Orlando, there was only one fleeting reference to Trump during an hour of speeches, and it did not come from Scott.

Scott’s campaign spokesman Chris Hartline responded by writing, “Gov. Scott supports the President when his policies help Florida and disagrees with him when they hurt our state. We were happy to welcome Vice President [Mike] Pence to Florida literally last week to campaign for us.”

The senator did not explicitly say his campaign was going to seek to make hay of Scott’s relationship with Trump, but he sought to spell it out Monday.

“Trump urged him to get into the race. They have been buddy-buddies for years. He’s tried to implement Trump’s policies on killing the Affordable Care Act, on denying climate change and sea level rise, you name it. What Trump has done, he has embraced it,” Nelson said.

“And all of the sudden he sees that Trump may not be so popular and so all of the sudden he has changed his complexion 180 degrees,” Nelson added.

Rick Scott says Democrats want ‘big government socialism’

Gov. Rick Scott continued his “Make Washington Work” bus tour Monday morning with a Jacksonville stop.

As opposed to a previous stop, which saw Scott change his schedule in apparent aversion to protesters of HB 631, a controversial beach access law that the Governor signed then suspended weeks later, the Jacksonville appearance at Mac Papers on the Southside drew no protesters.

Scott has outspent incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, yet polls of the race for the U.S. Senate seat show a dead heat.

“We’re going to win the race because it’s a clear choice,” Scott said, between the Republicans and Democrats like gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Nelson, who are “both for higher taxes and they’re both for — they don’t want to secure borders.”

“Andrew Gillum wants to get rid of ICE,” Scott said, and “Nelson wants catch and release.”

“If you look at why people are going to the polls to vote, they’re going to vote on what they want their future to be,” Scott said.

“Do we want to continue the future we have in Florida where we have jobs and record funding, or do we want to go down the path where we want higher taxes,” Scott asked rhetorically, adding that “we’re going to win the race because people want a better future.”

Scott has painted Nelson and Gillum as too radical for the state, and his stump remarks continued that theme.

“These Democrats are all in for higher taxes, more debt, and that’s not good for us as a family,” Scott said. “They just want big government programs that don’t work.”

“The Democrats are talking about big government socialism, [saying] ‘oh, it’s fair,'” Scott said. “Yeah, it’s fair — we all do bad. We all do poorly under socialism.”

Gov. Rick Scott visits Mac Paper in Jacksonville on his statewide “Make Washington Work” Bus Tour.

Rick Scott ‘very disappointed’ in school safety funding snub

As Gov. Rick Scott continues to stump for Senate, his influence over policy in the state capital appears to be waning.

The latest example of such: incoming Senate President Bill Galvano and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission snubbing Scott’s request to move $58 million from the state’s school safety “guardian program” to hire more campus police officers.

“We are less than a month into the school year,” Galvano told USA TODAY Network-Florida. “The program is brand-new, and it will take time to see how it is being effectively implemented across the state.”

In Jacksonville Monday at a campaign stop, Scott relayed his disappointment in the Bradenton Republican’s decision.

“I’m very disappointed,” Scott said. “We worked hard to get a good safety bill done after Parkland.”

“These are dollars that shouldn’t just be sitting in Tallahassee,” Scott added. “They were supposed to be spent on school safety. If they’re not going to spend on the guardian program, they ought to be going to hire more law enforcement officers.”

Scott is in the unusual position of having prominent Democrats siding with him on this issue, with Republicans breaking the other way.

“For my community, who lost 17 people, the idea to just wait until March to do something — that’s unacceptable,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz. “We could use this money.”

Gov. Rick Scott visits Mac Paper in Jacksonville on his statewide “Make Washington Work” Bus Tour.

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