Florida Gov. Rick Scott has all the answers…if you know the right questions.
Yet there remain few if any answers (that make sense) to questions from a persistent press corps doggedly digging deeper into “Baileygate” and the latest misdeeds and dysfunction of his scandalized administration. Intrepid reporters are still treated to the same evasive tactics and double-talk they’ve grown accustomed to during the last four years.
Except, there was one clear, terse answer. When asked if he tried quashing a money-laundering investigation into a top campaign donor, one of a series of damning allegations by ousted Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Scott said:
Score one directness point for the governor. Time, and Bailey’s evidence-gathering capacity, will tell whether that one straight answer comes back to haunt him, or not.
In the meantime, Gov. Scott and his staff are stonewalling the press, the general public, and even his three fellow members in the Florida Cabinet.
In one of this week’s many unraveling strands of the web of secrecy and duplicity spun by the Scott administration, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater hand-delivered a letter asking for a new, “transparent” search process for Bailey’s replacement. Never mind that along with Cabinet members Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Atwater had blindly signed off on the Bailey firing (“resignation”) ordered by Scott, and on Scott’s choice to replace him, Rick Swearingen.
But hey now, that was then and this is now, and everybody’s looking. And many see corruption, cover-ups, possible criminal activity, and most of all, unforgivable incompetence.
By the way, speaking of answers: My answer to any GOP official or Scott supporter claiming Florida’s economic “recovery” proves Scott’s competence is to point to a pesky pile of facts proving the recovery is a sham; boom days for the corporate class, mirage for the middle class.
But I digress. Back to CFO Atwater and his ask for a do-over.
Gov. Scott quickly fired back his answer, a testy no to a do-over on the FDLE commissioner; plus a bizarre bonus answer, a yes to wide-open job searches – but for three other commissioners Scott wants to axe. Maybe he learns from his mistakes after all, huh?
Cabinet members Putnam and Bondi agree with Scott about not reopening the FDLE search, while Bondi admitted the Bailey firing “has raised serious questions, and those questions should be answered.” Neither got into Bailey’s incendiary accusations.
In another development, nobody at the Orange County Clerk’s Office had answers for the press about Bailey’s allegation that Scott asked him to manufacture a bogus criminal investigation into the clerk of court, to distract attention from an embarrassing prison escape. That clerk is now gone and hasn’t surfaced to answer questions, leaving other stunned employees with nothing but questions.
If Rick Scott has answers on that one, it will probably take a deposition to get them out of him. Then again, he has some experience handling depositions and the risk of self-incrimination.
One thing Scott did have plenty of answers to this week were questions about President Obama’s stirring 2015 State of the Union speech; especially the heartfelt appeal for a new brand of American “middle-class economics.”
Unsurprisingly and unfairly, Scott accused the president of “doubling down on his big government agenda,” adding, “One need look no further than Florida for an example of conservative, anti-tax, free-market policies at work, and the results speak for themselves.”
Yes. Yes they do.
Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.