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New Rick Scott ad goes after Bill Nelson on payroll taxes

Republican gubernatorial candidate Gov. Rick Scott is blasting his U.S. Senate opponent Bill Nelson for reports that the Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator wasn’t paying payroll taxes to campaign staffers.

“Stealing from Medicare,” a 30-second television and digital ad launching today, charges that Nelson is “stealing from Medicare and Social Security” by not paying the employers’ matching share of those taxes [though Medicare and Social Security actually would be made whole, because the employees would be required to make up the difference in their tax returns.]

But the real hit is the implied allegation of hypocrisy against Nelson on taxes, something that Scott hit Nelson with last week.

“It’s unfair. Bill Nelson increases your taxes, but he doesn’t pay his own,” the narrator declares.

The ad cites news reports from earlier this month that showed that much of Nelson’s campaign staff was working, at least through the June 30 campaign finance reports, as independent contractors brought into the campaign as individual consultants. It also charges that Nelson wasn’t paying toward health insurance coverage for the campaign staffers.

Nelson’s campaign has said that arrangement is typical of campaign startups, and that his campaign is transitioning many of the staff members to employee status, offering payroll taxes. In the meantime, independent contractors pay their own taxes and arrange for their own medical insurance, as they are not formally employees of the organization.

Nelson’s campaign also has previously and repeatedly refuted Scott’s charge that Nelson has voted to raise taxes 300 times, saying several fact-checking organizations debunked that claim.

The new commercial doesn’t specify the number of tax increases, just that Nelson has supported tax increases, and it lays hard into Nelson about his own record as an employer.

“Reports of Bill Nelson habitually refusing to pay taxes is nothing short of shameful,” Scott stated in a news release issued Monday. “Bill Nelson raises your taxes, but it appears he doesn’t pay his own. He fights for big government through health insurance mandates, then reportedly avoids providing health insurance for his own employees. This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy we have come to expect from a career politician like Bill Nelson. We need leaders in Washington who will look out for Florida taxpayers instead of looking out for themselves.”

Scott’s campaign has said it pays payroll taxes and health insurance premiums for its employees, though it, too, has a some — a small number — of independent contractors.

Nelson’s Campaign Manager Marley Wilkes responded, “The campaign pays payroll taxes and this is just another Rick Scott lie.”


Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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