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Bill Nelson airs TV ad ripping Rick Scott for ‘hurricane gouging’

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement to Monroe County Mayor David Rice. The statement was made by his predecdessor, George Neugent, who was mayor at the time of the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Irma last year.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s reelection campaign is releasing a new television commercial Wednesday ripping Gov. Rick Scott and his administration’s response to last year’s Hurricane Irma, based on reports that contractors hired by the state overcharged on debris cleanup.

The 30-second spot, “Gouge,” cites news reports and uses TV news footage reporting that contractors overcharged, costing Florida taxpayers an additional $28 million to $30 million in storm cleanup in Monroe County.

The commercial starts  with Monroe County Mayor George Neugent declaring, “The governor was actually doing the price gouging.”

It ends with a narrator citing a Sun-Sentinel of South Florida report stating, “if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing.”


“Against the wishes of local officials, Scott gave an emergency contract to an inexperienced contractor instead of the qualified companies already in place,” Nelson’s campaign charges in a news release issued to announce the TV commercial. “Along with costing taxpayers millions, he delayed the recovery for thousands of residents in Monroe County.”

“Recent reports revealed Rick Scott wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on debris removal contracts for his donors, which is just further evidence that Rick Scott puts himself and his political agenda first, at the expense of Floridians,” Nelson for Senate spokesperson Sebastian Kitchen states in the release. “Rick Scott has been a bad governor because he’s gouged Florida taxpayers and proven time and time again, he’s only in it for himself.”

Scott’s campaign responded Wednesday morning charging Nelson was “politicizing hurricane recovery.”

“It’s disappointing to see Bill Nelson and his fellow Democrats care more about private vendors who lost their opportunity to profit off a disaster than they do about the families who were able to quickly return home thanks to the work of Gov. Scott. It’s easy for career politicians like Nelson to look back after the fact and try to score political points, but Gov. Scott was in charge of leading the state through the largest storm in recent history – his top focus was on the safety and recovery of our communities and he did that while protecting taxpayer dollars, not by helping special interests or politicizing hurricane recovery.

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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