Rick Scott – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Florida Democrats call on Rick Scott to stand up to Donald Trump

Gov. Rick Scott is in Washington raising money for his U.S. Senate campaign, and the Florida Democratic Party says now is as good a time as any to confront Donald Trump for his attacks on health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“According to recent estimates, 7,810,300 Floridians have pre-existing conditions. Those are 7,810,300 of your constituents that could lose their health care if Donald Trump (and your own Attorney General, Pam Bondi) have their way. Yet, despite the potential grave consequences of Trump and Bondi’s lawsuit, you haven’t uttered a word explicitly condemning their actions,” the letter says regarding a multistate lawsuit aimed at removing Affordable Care Act rules guaranteeing health care access for people with pre-existing conditions.

The Trump Administration said earlier this month it will not defend the lawsuit in court.

Scott, in a statement from his Senate campaign last week, said that while “Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much,” he supports the requirement that health insurers not discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

He’s yet to back up those words with any action, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Florida Democratic Party.

In an email announcing the letter, the FDP said Scott’s behavior was to be expected, considering he “bragged about crafting the GOP’s recent health care bill that would slash coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (while giving himself a tax break).”

The letter continues:

“Simply put, although we Floridians are tired of your empty rhetoric, we’re also used to it. We know that you have a tendency to say and do anything to get elected. However, in a matter as serious as health care, we hope that you can put aside politics and understand that for many, having access to affordable and quality health care is the difference between life and death.

“On Thursday, while you spend the day hobnobbing with donors in Washington, D.C., we request that you stop by to see your ‘close friend’ Donald Trump and tell him to stop his attacks on health care protections for pre-existing conditions. Or better yet, tell him that Florida is withdrawing as a party to the lawsuit that would make protections for pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.”

The letter is FDP’s latest attempt to turn Trump into an anchor around Scott’s neck. The second-term Republican Governor is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall.

Franklin County gets new school board member

Kristy Branch Banks was selected this week to serve a brief stint on the Franklin County School Board.

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Banks to the District 3 post on Tuesday for a term that ends Nov. 13.

Banks, 47, of Apalachicola, owns her own law practice. She received her law degree from Florida State University. She is not seeking election to the same seat this year. Instead, her successor will be either Fonda D. Davis or Roderick Robinson, Jr., both of whom have qualified for the spot.

Banks fills the vacancy created by the resignation of former Board member Teresa Ann Martin

Banks’ appointment to the Board comes at a time when school districts across the state determine how best to implement new school safety mandates passed by the Legislature this year following the mass shooting in Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Franklin School Board, like many others, does not favor the new optional armed guardian law, which was a highlighted portion of the Legislature’s school safety package. It permits schools and law enforcement officers to train non-teacher staff to carry concealed firearms on campuses. Scott signed the bill into law in March.

The Apalachicola Times reported in May that the Franklin School Board was moving forward with a plan to potentially arm one “districtwide school safety specialist,” but “there has been little support for expanding the Guardian program which could put firearms in the hands of staffers who qualify.”

At a workshop earlier this week, the Franklin School Board worked out a plan to fund the specialist position at a base salary of $64,000, along with benefits and retirement, reports the Apalachicola Times. 

Banks’ first full Board meeting will be Thursday evening.

In welcoming Hispanic leader support, Rick Scott offers mixed messages on refugees

Gov. Rick Scott is taking an opportunity for some cross-partisan support for his U.S. Senate bid through some warm endorsements from Orlando-area Hispanic leaders with Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Colombian followings.

In accepting the endorsements Tuesday, which included a couple from avowed Democrats, the Republican Governor spoke broadly of Florida welcoming all, making specific statements about the need to support the people in and refugees from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, countries ravaged by socialist or communist dictators.

However, Scott stopped short of criticizing President Donald Trump‘s current zero-tolerance policies toward the tangled mix of illegal immigrants and refugees now flowing across the border. He also passed on a chance to offer any specific support for those seeking asylum from horrifying crime and political oppression, particularly in the generally right-wing Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The contrast showed the awkward position of a Republican with supportive policies and rhetoric of Hispanic newcomers to his state, in an era of Trump when much of the national Republican agenda runs counter, mainly relating to many of the Central American and Mexicans seeking to enter the United States.

In this setting, a campaign event in the offices of Suarez Realty in Orlando, the focus was on the Florida appeal built from his strong policies supporting the people of Cuba, Venezuela and the American territory of Puerto Rico. There also were people standing with Scott from Mexico.

Several Central Florida Hispanic spoke of Scott’s support for Puerto Rico and the services he offered Puerto Ricans who fled to Florida after Hurricane Maria; of his ban on Florida business with Venezuela and Cuba; his letters to other governors urging them to do the same; and also of his business-friendly policies, with one declaring, “If it’s good for businessmen, it’s good for employees too.”

William Diaz, an Orlando radio talk show host and leader of the international Venezuelan exile network, also made a personal point of contrasting Scott’s availability to that of his opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Diaz had been trying for three and a half months to get an appointment to talk to Nelson about Venezuela, while Scott took and returned his calls on at least six occasions.

Scott offered the support Diaz sought, he said.

“I’m a Democrat. But that’s not my priority. My priority is supporting what this man is doing for a country like Venezuela, for a country like Puerto Rico, and like he’s doing for the state of Florida,” Diaz said of Scott.

Scott proclaimed Florida to be the country’s great melting pot with 250 languages spoken, welcoming all.

“Everyone should have the chance to live the dream in this country. It shouldn’t matter where you start. It shouldn’t matter your ZIP code. It shouldn’t matter the color of your skin. We all believe that everybody should have a shot,” Scott said. “That’s why I ran.”

Scott recalled meeting a woman from Puerto Rico who had taken refuge in Florida, and who told him she had no idea what would happen to her now, or who was going to help her.

“I think it’s important that we have to think that way. We have to think: what if you are coming from Puerto Rico? What of the challenges of Nicaragua, the challenges of Venezuela, the challenges of the Cubans coming here?” Scott said. “We are the melting pot. We are the best melting pot in the world.”

Scott demurred when asked if those thoughts extended to other Central American countries which are currently the source of numerous immigrants including unknown numbers seeking, but not being offered refuge, and of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward them.

Congress needs to fix the broken immigration system, Scott responded.

It’s up to Congress to determine what to do about the federal temporary protective status programs expiring for some refugees, he added.

“When I go to Washington, I want to be a doer,” Scott said but did not offer his personal support for the programs. “We do have to have a secure border. We have to have an immigration policy that works. If you look at what Washington’s done for decades, they’ve done nothing. And so we have this crisis on the border. We have a crisis every day. People should know how to come here legally. We should have a process where people know we want you in this country.”

“Immigrants have completely improved our state. We’ve got to do this on a legal basis,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with a way that, like with this issues on families, we have to be compassionate, but we’ve got to have a secure border.”

Rick Scott wants murderers of transgender Jacksonville women brought to justice

Gov. Rick Scott, in Jacksonville Tuesday on a campaign stop, was compelled to address a recent spate of murders of local transgender women.

In recent months, three were killed. Concern is galvanizing the local LGBT community and is eliciting action from Equality Florida, which held a media conference at Jacksonville City Hall contemporaneously to Scott’s event on Jacksonville’s Westside.

“I just feel sorry for people,” Scott said. “You hope that it would never happen.”

“I hate that these things happen. On the state level, we provide some funding for Jacksonville to deal with, you know, helping to reduce their crime.”

“I know that Mayor [Lenny] Curry and Sheriff [Mike] Williams both ran to focus on making this a safe place to live,” Scott said.

“I always say there’s three primary jobs as Governor. You focus on how you make sure people get a job, how kids can get an education, and how you keep people safe,” Scott said.

“You hate when anything like this happens,” Scott said, “and I hope whoever did it is caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

These murders come at a time when Jacksonville, at least when it comes to municipal code, has made gains in protecting LGBT rights in the areas of employment, public accommodation, and housing protections.

However, Jacksonville — despite concerted workforce additions and budget enhancements for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office — is struggling with stemming the blood tide of murders and finding the killers.

In a media release Tuesday afternoon, Equality Florida posited that the killings may be the work of a serial killer.

“The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened. They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets,” said Gina Duncan, the group’s director of transgender policy.

Rick Scott on travel ban: ‘The president’s job is to keep us all safe’

Tuesday in Jacksonville saw Gov. Rick Scott address the travel ban upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Decried as a “Muslim ban” by critics, President Donald Trump nonetheless is upholding the ban on travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as essential to national security.

The Supreme Court backed Trump’s play by a 5-4 margin, including negating the proposition statements made by the President on the campaign trail should factor in the interpretation of the policy.

In Jacksonville Tuesday to spotlight proposed reforms during his Make Washington Work tour, Scott backed the President on the travel ban, as well as addressing the broader issue of border security.

“The President’s job is to keep us all safe,” Scott said. “That’s his job.”

Describing Florida as a “melting pot,” Scott said, “we love legal immigration in our state.”

However, “people ought to be vetted. We shouldn’t let people into our country who want to harm us, who don’t believe in the principles that we all believe in.”

“A lot of these problems are caused because Congress has failed to act,” Scott added. “They’ve failed to secure our borders, they sit there and just do speeches and photo ops, but they don’t go do their jobs. Secure our borders. Fix our immigration policy. Then we wouldn’t have so many of these problems.”

Regarding secure borders, one of the biggest controversies of 2018 for the Trump administration has been the separation of families of migrants coming across the Mexican border.

Florida Politics asked Scott, who has demonstrated an interest in policy relative to Latin America throughout his two terms as Governor, if the United States was to blame for creating the conditions that led to migration from those countries.

“It’s actually the two Castro brothers’ fault … their thugs are in Venezuela now, Nicaragua, causing civil unrest. You look at a place like Venezuela, a beautiful country, they don’t have enough medicine to take care of the children. People don’t have enough food now. It’s all because of the Castro brothers.”

Saying that he believed in promoting democracy and freedom worldwide, Scott noted that in Florida, “what happens in Latin America has a big impact on us … and we have to do whatever we can to promote freedom and democracy.”

Scott was optimistic about the new Colombian president, but: “What [Nicolas] Maduro is doing in Venezuela and what [Daniel] Ortega is doing in Nicaragua is despicable.”

Rick Scott still mulling Jacksonville City Council appointments

Gov. Rick Scott suspended two Jacksonville City Council Democrats, Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown, June 1, after the federal government indicted the duo for a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration.

Since then, applications have poured in for the Governor’s perusal, and the latest list shows many veteran politicians with an urge to serve.

Among the latest applicants last week: three Republicans who ran for State House but fell short in 2016. None of these candidates had demonstrated an interest in running for election for these seats, and all waited until late in the process to apply.

Terrance Freeman, who finished second in a five-man primary in the Southside’s HD 12 is one. Rev. Mark Griffin, who lost a surprisingly competitive race in the HD 13 general election, a second. And Chris Whitfield, thumped in the general election in HD 14, is the third.

In Jacksonville Tuesday spotlighting a reform proposal on his Make Washington Work tour, Scott wouldn’t commit to any of these names, noting that people are still proposing potential fill-ins even today.

“We are going through the appointment process now,” Scott said. “People have told me they have interest. I’ve had people today who’ve told me ideas, who they think I should pick.”

Many wonder if Mayor Lenny Curry has weighed in. In a manner of speaking, Scott did not deny the Mayor’s Office had interest.

“They haven’t [weighed in] to me, but they could have called somebody in my office,” Scott allowed.

If the Mayor’s Office were to weigh in, there is reason to believe they might want one of the aforementioned Republicans.

Freeman, a former aide to Council President-designate Aaron Bowman, “would consider [the appointment] the opportunity of a lifetime.”

If appointed, he vows to offer “a strong voice in local government” and to “work collaboratively with the Mayor’s Office and Council leadership to represent the District with honesty, integrity, and honor, ensuring that I’m leading discussions that are beneficial for the district and the City of Jacksonville as a whole.”

Whitfield, who lost by 40 points to Democrat Kim Daniels in the 2016 general, couched his interest in similar terms.

“I threw my name in the hat to ensure the hardworking citizens of either district had reliable and trustworthy representation until they can elect a permanent representative,” Whitfield said.

“A safe community, potholes, flooded streets and food deserts don’t care about Republican or Democrat. Integrity and honesty matter and the people deserve that and need someone who will make their needs a priority, even in the interim,” Whitfield said.

We asked Whitfield if he thought his chances were improved by being a Republican.

“No, I don’t think party will matter. From my interactions with the mayor and governor, I believe they care about the citizens and what’s best for them and the governor will select the person he feels will best represent those citizens until they can make their voices heard on election day,” Whitfield predicted.

The late Republican applications came after many Democratic candidates and former candidates had already indicated interest.

Among the hopefuls: former and current District 10 candidate Joseph Willis; former school board chair Brenda Priestly Jackson; former at-large candidate Ju’coby Pittman; current candidates Tameka Holly and Celestine Mills; Terry Fields, former state Representative and a 2015 City Council candidate; former House candidate Rahman Johnson; current candidate Kevin Monroe; former Councilwoman and obelisk aficionado Pat Lockett-Felder; former candidates James Breaker and Mincy Pollock.

It remains to be seen whether the Governor will consider party loyalty before making these appointments, but the three Republicans who filed last week all have connections the Democrats lack.

NBC News/Marist poll: Bill Nelson up four points over Rick Scott in Senate race

A new NBC News/Marist poll shows Sen. Bill Nelson with a four-point lead over Gov. Rick Scott in the race for U.S. Senate.

The survey, which sampled registered voters rather than likely voters, showed 49 percent favoring Nelson and 45 percent supporting Scott. That adds more uncertainty to a race that has seen back-and-forth polling throughout its duration, including in the last week.

A Public Policy Polling survey from Friday showed Nelson with a two-point lead. It was countered Sunday by a CBS News poll, which had Scott ahead by five points.

Now, according to NBC/Marist, Nelson is up by four.

The shifting nature of the polls may not shed light on who is really ahead. But it does make one thing clear: this is a close race.

“The Democrats are banking on Nelson holding this seat,” says Dr. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But, this is a very competitive contest with 18 percent of registered voters still persuadable.”

According to the poll’s findings, 56 percent of those with a preference in the Senate race “strongly support” their chosen candidate. That metric slightly favors Scott, with 59 percent of his supporters strongly supporting him. Only 53 percent of Nelson’s backers felt the same.

A whopping 95 percent of registered voters said they considered the November elections to be important. The Florida Senate race will certainly be, as it could help decide which party controls the Senate next term.

Adam Putnam, Scott Sturgill, Ashley Moody, Matt Caldwell win Seminole GOP straw poll

Congressional candidate Scott Sturgill, gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody, and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell were the top choices Monday night in a straw poll conducted during the Seminole County Republican Party hobnob.

Sturgill is facing fellow Republicans state Rep. Mike Miller and Vennia Francois and easily defeated both of them among nearly 300 votes cast during the Seminole Republican Executive Committee’s gathering at the Altamonte Hilton in Altamonte Springs. Sturgill, of Sanford, picked up 170 votes, or 60 percent, while Miller of Winter Park attracted 105 votes and Francois of Orlando grabbed just eight votes.

They’re vying for an August 28 Republican primary to run in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, which includes all of Seminole County and a large swath of north and central Orange County, where Miller and Francois live. They hope for a shot at Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park.

Putnam also coasted to an easy victory over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose 6th Congressional District abuts Seminole County. Putnam, Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner from Polk County, picked up 146 votes to DeSantis’ 77. Six other Republicans each picked up at least one vote, led by Bob White‘s 19.

For the Republicans’ U.S. Senate nomination, Gov. Rick Scott has only nominal competition, and he crushed it. Scott got 230 votes while Rocky De La Fuente got 38.

Moody, the former circuit court judge from Tampa, was in a much tighter competition for the Attorney General’s nomination among participating Seminole Republicans. She drew 119 votes while state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola picked up 106.

Caldwell had no such trouble convincing Seminole Republicans to pick him. The state representative from North Fort Myers got 103 votes, while state Sen. Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid drew just 49, and Mike McCalister of Plant City got 43. Former state Rep. Baxter Troutman finished a distant fourth with only 23 votes.

In local races, Joe Durso topped Amy Lockhart 172-102 in the race for the Seminole County Commission District 4 seat; Cade Resnick topped Alan Youngblood 155-86 for the Seminole County School Board District 1 seat; and Amy Pennock beat Bobby Agagnina 150-40 for the School Board District 4 seat, with several other candidates getting handfuls of votes.

Rick Scott, NRSC team up for $670K raised in May

Gov. Rick Scott pulled in some serious cash for his Senate bid last month according to newly filed finance reports for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a fundraising arm supporting Republican campaigns for the U.S. Senate.

The NRSC pulled in $5.4 million last month according to its June filing, and a dive into its report shows $670,000 of that cash was earmarked for the Rick Scott Victory Fund, a political committee supporting Scott’s 2018 campaign against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Campaign finance limits won’t allow all those funds to be transferred over to Scott’s political committee — individuals can give up to $33,900 a year to party-affiliated committees, but committees are limited in how much of that cash can be contributed to a specific committee or campaign.

While Scott’s campaign won’t get full control over those dollars, the committee is expected to use the jointly raised funds on the Florida race, which is one of a handful of races where Republicans have a shot at knocking off an incumbent Democratic Senator.

In all, the NRSC received 31 contributions last month, attributed to the joint fundraising agreement with the Rick Scott Victory Fund. Of those, 13 were for the $33,900 max.

Hitting the high mark were UF Board of Trustees Chair James Heavener and his wife, Christie; Marblehead, MA, retirees Stephen and Frances Lockwood; retired oilman Thomas O’Malley and wife, Mary Alice, who live in West Palm Beach; Tampa Bay Lightning owner and real estate developer Jeff Vinik and his wife, Mary Penny; advertising exec Jordan Zimmerman and his wife, Terry; and GEO Group founder George Zoley and his wife, Donna.

The only max donor who was not part of a couple was retired Boca Raton businessman and philanthropist John G. Rangos, Sr. The remaining 18 contributions marked for the Rick Scott Victory Fund ranged from $1,700 to $25,000, for a total of $671,800.

Scott entered the Senate race in April, so his first campaign finance report for his official campaign account is due to the Federal Elections Commission on July 15. The report is expected to be gargantuan — in late April, the campaign said it had already raised more than $3 million, matching Nelson’s haul for the entire first quarter in just three weeks.

The campaign has also announced more than $10 million in TV and digital ad buys over the past 10 weeks, including a $2.2 million buy at the end of May.

Rick Scott: ‘No budget? No pay!’

Gov. Rick Scott, the presumptive GOP U.S. Senate nominee, rolled out another plank of his “Make Washington Work” plan Tuesday.

If Scott’s proposal were to become reality, Congress must pass an annual budget and meet appropriations bill deadlines, or not get paid.

A media release from Scott for Florida (the Governor’s campaign arm) notes that for 22 years, Congress has not passed appropriations bills in a timely fashion. Government shutdowns have resulted.

But Congress, Scott asserts, stayed paid — including his Democratic opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson.

“Funding government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress,” Scott asserted, “but not even the fear of a government shutdown has proved to be enough to motivate Congress to produce a timely budget.”

“When the government shuts down because of Congress’ inaction,” Scott added, “Floridians are the ones that are impacted, and we’ve had enough.”

“It is unbelievable that career politicians in Washington still collect paychecks backed by taxpayer dollars when they fail to do their jobs. During the most recent government shutdown, I urged politicians to forgo their salaries — but Bill Nelson refused. Just like in the real world,” Scott added, “politicians should only get paid if they show up, get to work, and get the job done.”

This is the fourth plank of Scott’s proposed reforms. The other three include Congressional term limits, supermajority approval of tax and fee increases in both chambers of Congress, and a Presidential line-item veto.

Democrats, predictably, are skeptical, as indicated by the quote from Florida Democratic Party spox Nate Evans.

“Rick Scott is proving once again that he’ll say and do anything to get elected, but Floridians know he can’t be trusted to look out for anyone but himself,” Evans said.

“If voters want to know what he’d actually do in the Senate, look at his record: he drove Florida’s wages to the bottom of the nation while using his political power to increase his personal wealth by $46 million, ignored the impact of climate change, and helped write the health care bill in D.C. that would increase costs and slash coverage for pre-existing conditions,” Evans added.

Carlie Waibel, Nelson campaign spox, likewise panned Scott’s latest as a stunt.

“Rick Scott’s extreme partisanship is exactly what’s wrong with Washington and the source of this problem. Bill Nelson is a independent senator who is recognized for his bipartisanship that brings the parties together to make government work. Bill Nelson supported this legislation, proving he will work across the aisle – not wedded to a party or ideology – to compromise and do what’s best for Floridians,” Waibel said.

“Rick Scott has been a politician for almost a decade and continues a cynical effort to deceive voters, proving he’ll say and do anything to try and get elected,” Waibel added. 

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