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Rick Scott disclaims responsibility for federal elections complaint about ‘New Republican PAC’

Gov. Rick Scott, a newly-minted candidate for Senate, faces his first Federal Elections Commission complaint a day after his campaign launch.

In comments Wednesday in Jacksonville, Scott disclaimed responsibility for the issue when we asked him if he had used the New Republican PAC, a federal Super PAC, to skirt campaign finance laws by fundraising without formally ‘testing the waters’ for a Senate bid.”

“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.”

On Tuesday, the political action committee “End Citizens United” charged Scott with using “his position as chair of the New Republican PAC, a federal Super PAC, to skirt campaign finance laws by fundraising without formally ‘testing the waters’ for a Senate bid.”

Per the formal complaint, “Scott appears to be using the super PAC, New Republican PAC, of which he is the chair, to raise and spend soft money to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate.”

The complaint contends that the PAC was ultimately an arm of the Scott campaign.

“On April 9, 2018, the same day that Scott declared his candidacy for Senate, the Committee revamped its website and mission. Though the PAC’s website previously indicated that its purpose was to support President Trump, Committee transformed overnight into ‘an Independent Expenditure-Only PAC (i.e., a Super PAC) focused on the election of Rick Scott in the race for Florida United States Senate.’”

“It does not appear as if Scott has relinquished his role as Chair of the Committee since declaring his federal candidacy,” the complaint continues, adding that Scott has paid consultants out of the PAC since May 2017.

We asked Scott about fundraising for the New Republican PAC in February; he had little to say about it at the time. As was his tendency, he said that all questions about a Senate campaign should be left to the “pundits.”

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However, the complaint contends that the PAC was ultimately an arm of the Scott campaign.

“On April 9, 2018, the same day that Scott declared his candidacy for Senate, the Committee revamped its website and mission. Though the PAC’s website previously indicated that its purpose was to support President Trump, Committee transformed overnight into ‘an Independent Expenditure-Only PAC (i.e., a Super PAC) focused on the election of Rick Scott in the race for Florida United States Senate.’”

“It does not appear as if Scott has relinquished his role as Chair of the Committee since declaring his federal candidacy,” the complaint continues, adding that Scott has paid consultants out of the PAC since May 2017.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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