On Russian election interference claims, Rick Scott wants Bill Nelson to ‘come clean’

Nelson Scott Blue

An ongoing narrative this election season is Sen. Bill Nelson‘s claims that Russians are interfering in Florida elections.

Nelson, at varying points, has claimed that “Russians are in the records” of local supervisors of elections, and that they are “continuing” with tactics employed in 2016.

Nelson’s likely opponent in the Senate general election, Gov. Rick Scott, and his administration have repeatedly questioned the factual basis for those assertions, with Nelson’s silence nettling them.

On Thursday, a joint letter from Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, to Nelson demanded that he clarify his “deeply troubling” comments.

Despite contacting the FBI, Homeland Security, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and other state and federal agencies, the state came up with no “actionable intelligence.” Nelson, said Detzner and Lux, has a “responsibility” to share information with the state.

On Friday in St. Augustine, Scott continued to beat the drum for Nelson to break a functional silence on his thus far unsupported claims.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Scott thundered. “Either he has completely made this up, just completely made it up, or he’s released classified information. One of those two things has happened.”

“Here’s what he said: The Russians have hacked our system. The Russians are free to roam around our election system right now. Then when he was pressed,” Scott added, “he said ‘Oh, it’s classified information. I got my information from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.'”

“We asked them,” Scott continued, “and they didn’t confirm anything he said.”

“Then,” Scott added, “he blamed it on the administration, [saying] they’re not releasing information. We asked Homeland Security, the FBI; they never confirmed it.”

“Then he says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore,” Scott continued, “so here’s where we are.”

“We put the money in to make sure we have a secure system. We’ve added cybersecurity experts, we’ve gotten grant funding for our supervisors of elections,” Scott said.

“He needs to come clean,” Scott said. “Did they release classified information? And how did he have access to it? He doesn’t have the right to it, he’s not on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Or did he just completely make it up?”

We asked Scott if he had spoken to Sen. Marco Rubio about this, but he had no response. We are reaching out to Rubio’s office for further insight.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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