Bill Nelson Archives - Florida Politics

Liberal groups launch $1M ad buy bashing Rick Scott

A pair of Democrat-aligned groups is out with a new $1 million digital ad campaign, accusing Republican Gov. Rick Scott of getting rich off shady companies during his time heading Florida.

Scott is currently attempting to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Now, Senate Majority PAC (SMP) and Priorities USA Action say they will launch the trio of 15-second spots, aimed at targeting users on Facebook, Google, YouTube and Pandora.

Each ad goes after a different Scott investment. The first, titled “Gilead,” scorches Scott for his investments in the drug company which shockingly charged $1,000 per pill for a Hepatitis C treatment.

“Rick Scott made $235 million dollars as Governor, investing in companies like Gilead, a drug company that was accused of price gouging patients,” the ad’s narrator says.

“Rick Scott got even richer while he was in office, but we’re the ones who paid.”

The next ad moves on to Scott’s role in approving the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline while maintaining an investment in the company which built and operated the pipeline.

“When some Floridians objected to a pipeline being built in their neighborhood, it got approved anyway by Rick Scott’s administration,” the ad’s narrator recalls.

“And one of the company’s investors? You guessed it: Rick Scott. Rick Scott has made $235 million while in office, but we’re the ones who paid.”

Then, there’s Scott’s investment in Mosaic, which owns a central Florida plant that was the site of a sinkhole that poured polluted water into the state’s aquifer.

“Rick Scott has made $235 million dollars as Governor, investing in companies like Mosaic, a chemical company that contaminated our drinking water and didn’t tell us for weeks,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“So while we were put at risk, Rick Scott got richer.”

Scott’s campaign pushed back against the groups’ efforts to go after the Governor’s investments.

Chuck Schumer knows that the end of Sen. Nelson’s long political career means the end of his most reliable party-line vote,” said Kerri Wyland, a Scott spokesperson.

“But while misleading campaign ads are one thing, this new batch has truly crossed the line into desperation and dishonesty.”

The Scott team noted that he owns no shares in Mosaic, pointing to his financial reports filed with the Senate. However, reporting from the time of the incident in 2016, and even earlier, shows that Scott did at one time own shares of Mosaic stock.

Scott did, however, take action to address the Mosaic crisis after it happened.

And the Governor has touted that his investments were put into a blind trust, which would purportedly shield him from any decision-making regarding his portfolio. That is, if he was invested in these companies, it would have theoretically not been his decision.

However, a New York Times story this week poked holes into that narrative, noting Scott actually did have the ability to view his investments, calling his setup “blind in name only.”

“As Governor, Rick Scott enriched himself and his cronies while Florida paid the price,” said J.B. Poersch, president of SMP.

“Rick Scott benefited from lucrative investments in companies that disrupted and harmed communities across Florida. If Rick Scott made it to the Senate he would use his power to help himself and abuse the people of Florida even further, and SMP and Priorities are committed to making sure that never happens.”

Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA Action, also added a statement on the ads’ release.

“Throughout his time as governor, Rick Scott has turned his back on the people of Florida,” Cecil said.

“Now more than ever, Floridians need someone who will fight for their needs, not someone who only cares about lining his own pockets with cash. Priorities and SMP are proud to partner on this campaign to ensure that the people of Florida know that Rick Scott has only been working for himself in Tallahassee and would do the same in the Senate.”

Joe Biden plans trio of Florida rallies next week

Former Vice President Joe Biden will make three stops in the Sunshine State early next week to rally for Democrats up and down the ballot.

At noon Monday, the Delaware Democrat will be in Tampa holding a get-out-the-vote rally alongside U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Attorney General hopeful Sean Shaw and nearby Congressman Charlie Crist. That’s at the University of South Florida’s East Gym, 12301 USF Maple Drive, Tampa. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

At 3:45 p.m. on Monday, Biden, Gillum and Nelson will headline a similar rally in Jacksonville, this time joined by local congressional candidate Nancy Soderberg. That’s at the University of North Florida Field House, 11852 University of North Florida Drive, Jacksonville. Doors open at 3:45 p.m.

Capping off the two-day circuit is a 3:45 p.m. rally on Tuesday in Orlando. Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, will not be present, although Biden will be joined by Nelson and Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, along with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. That’s at the Cheyenne Saloon, 128 W Church St, Orlando.

A news release announcing the appearances notes that Biden will make stops at college campuses “to encourage young people to vote early, and promote Democrats up-and-down the ballot.” It also highlights that early voting begins in Hillsborough, Duval and Pinellas counties on Monday.

“This election is a battle for the soul of America, and Florida has the chance to decide the future of this country. I am honored to stand with Senator Bill Nelson and Mayor Andrew Gillum as they work to restore our nation’s democracy,” said Vice President Biden. “The stakes couldn’t be higher in 2018. We need Floridian’s voices to be heard at the polls this fall, and that starts with early voting.”

Biden earlier this week endorsed Shaw, the Democratic Attorney General candidate. He has also offered support for candidates running in special elections during the past two years, even going as far as recording robocalls to go out ahead of February’s House District 72 race, which saw Democrat Margaret Good secure an upset victory.

It’s no secret that Biden, who served two terms under former President Barack Obama, is mulling his own presidential bid in 2020. And there’s an emerging trend of other presidential potentials making headlines in Florida this cycle. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his rounds through South Florida earlier this month. Another national Democratic figure, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, endorsed Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried earlier this week.

New Bill Nelson ad labels Rick Scott as ‘Red Tide Rick’

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is going into the swamp for his new television commercial attacking Republican Gov. Rick Scott over his past problems in the private sector, his finances and environmental record, labeling him, “Red Tide Rick.”

The 30-second commercial, “Swamp”, features talking cartoon frogs that keep croaking, “Rick” and “Scott” each time a narrator rolls out an allegation about Nelson’s opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

The commercial covers a lot of old ground, reminding viewers that, back when he was president of the big, private, hospital company Columbia/HCA in the 1990s he was forced out during an FBI Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigation that ultimately led to $1.7 billion in fines and penalties against his  former company, while Scott received millions of dollars. And then the ad make assorted charges on Scott’s personal financial gains during his eight years as governor.

But the crescendo comes when the commercial turns to the frogs looking at dead fish on a beach, seeking to burdon Scott with responsibility for the red tides ravaging Florida’s coastlines this fall.

“Now our Florida is poisoned with toxic algae,” the narrator declares. “He’s so slimy. Let’s leave him in Tallahassee. We can’t trust Red Tide Rick.”

“Nope,” croaks one of the frogs.

Scott’s campaign has vigorously pushed back against the charges as they’ve been leveled in various previous ads and statements from Nelson. On Thursday, for example, Scott’s campaign that under Scott’s leadership leadership, Florida passed major legislation to ensure the public is made aware within 24 hours of the release of any harmful substance; that he declared a state of emergency due to the impacts of red tide in August – and since has secured millions of dollars to help impacted communities. It also noted that scientists remind that red tide is naturally occuring, not Scott’s fault.

In latest ad, Bill Nelson says Rick Scott will put Donald Trump needs first

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson blasts Republican opponent Rick Scott as a partisan hack in a new 30-second video ad that ties the governor to President Donald Trump.

“The Senate race comes down to one question: who has the independence to put Florida first?” Nelson states in the ad, dubbed “Closer.”

Scott, Florida’s two-term Republican governor, for months blasted Nelson as a partisan Democrat, from labeling the senator a “shutdown friend” of Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in January to suggesting he let Democratic bosses predetermine his vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation just this month.

“When President Trump asks for something that’s good for him and bad for Florida, I know what I’ll do: I’ll say no,” Nelson says in the ad. “And we all know what Rick Scott will do, he’ll say yes.

“Folks, I’m a fifth-generation Floridian. I’ve always put Florida first – and I always will,” Nelson says.

Nelson’s campaign will begin airing the ads through most of the state Friday, excluding parts of the Panhandle still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

The question of how close Scott will be to Trump should he be elected to the Senate quietly loomed over the election as well.

Scott, an executive-turned politician himself, became an early endorser of Trump shortly after the now-President won the Florida Republican primary.

Trump later urged Scott to challenge Nelson for the Senate seat this year.

Through the election, Nelson painted Scott as a “creature of Trump.”

“They have been buddy-buddies for years,” Nelson said of Trump and Scott last month in Orlando.

But Scott has maintained he will stand up to the president when his agenda does align with Florida’s needs.

He’s made several rebukes of specific Trump policies through the course of the campaign, notably after a highly criticized presser with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as over disputes of the number of deaths in Puerto Rico tied to Hurricane Maria.

With the new ad, Nelson also reasserts his reputation as a moderate.

GovTrack ranks the senator as the 58th most conservative of the nation’s 100 senators, just above independent Maine Sen. Angus King. The same report card lists Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as the 26th most conservative member.

Nelson stresses that record as he closes the new ad.

“I’ve always put Florida first,” he says, “and I always will.”

State marshals support to rebuild Air Force base

Political efforts are increasing to support the quick rebuilding of hurricane-damaged Tyndall Air Force Base and to keep the federal government from abandoning the economic engine in Northwest Florida.

Members of the Florida Defense Support Task Force, a legislatively mandated panel within the economic-development agency Enterprise Florida, expressed a need Thursday to expand support from the state’s congressional and legislative delegations.

Despite Pentagon officials on Monday saying they intend to rebuild the base, where pilots train to fly the F-22 stealth fighter, concerns linger that the 29,000-acre facility in southeastern Bay County could face downsizing or closure. The base employs about 11,000 military and civilian personnel.

Tom Neubauer, task force vice chairman, said during a conference-call meeting that efforts are underway to add to a show of support that was sent last week to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Pentagon Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein by Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, along with U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican whose district includes the base.

“We’re just trying to get that put together now in the form of a formal declaration from all of our delegation across the state,” Neubauer said.

Neubauer noted that President Donald Trump flew over the base Monday as he toured damage from Hurricane Michael, which made landfall Oct. 10 in nearby Mexico Beach with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. Tyndall evacuated all but 93 airmen assigned to survey the damage and help reopen the base.

“(Trump) did not specifically say, ‘Hey, we’re going to rebuild the base,’ ” Neubauer said. “But we’d sure like to hear that.”

State Sen. Doug Broxson, a Gulf Breeze Republican and member of the Defense Support Task Force, said he’s given a tour of the base to incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, and has invited the rest of the Senate for similar visits.

Broxson also suggested the task force quickly hold an emergency meeting to tour the damage at Tyndall.

“We need to show that we’re proactive here in preventing any disruption of our military commitment,” Broxson said. “I don’t think we need to be staying overnight, because there is no place to stay. But we certainly need to let people understand the significance of what we’re going through.”

The concern for state officials is Tyndall could follow the path of Homestead Air Force Base, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and subsequently became an Air Force Reserve base.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the wreckage at Tyndall “shows how climate change may be putting billions of dollars worth of sophisticated aircraft at risk during storms like Hurricane Michael.”

Structural engineers from Lockheed Martin were sent to inspect an undisclosed number of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters — each valued up to $339 million — that were left at Tyndall during the storm, according to a tweet from the contractor. The planes had been left at the base for maintenance and safety reasons.

The Air Force announced Wednesday that it is committed to returning critical personnel to Tyndall. The gates were first opened Wednesday to military members, civilian employees and dependents for the first of five days of limited access to evaluate personal property.

The task force meeting was held Thursday as Gov. Rick Scott toured the damage at the base and tweeted his support to “assist them with anything needed to recover.”

Neubauer said the advisories he’s gotten is that restoration of the base “could be double digits in terms of months.”

A year ago, the Pentagon put a $3.4 billion value on the facilities at Tyndall and projected its annual economic impact — combining payroll, expenditures and jobs created — at $596 million.

Bill Nelson rips Rick Scott on health care, red tides

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson ripped his Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott Thursday for not supporting the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid expansion and then blamed Scott’s environmental policies for exacerbating red tides to the point they now menace as far north as Brevard County.

Nelson made the attacks during a roundtable discussion in Orlando with Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings and three area residents who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, notably diabetes, Crohn’s disease, bipolar syndrome, and arthritis. They told about how expensive their medical treatments are, and how they would be lost without insurance coverage.

“That’s what I don’t understand about Rick Scott and [U.S. Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell. They are hell-bent in taking it away from people like this who desperately need health care,” Nelson said.

Nelson didn’t stop there. He ripped into Scott’s record on the environment and development control, charging that the governor’s policies and decisions have created dramatic increases in the pollutants in Florida’s waterways, which in turn are expanding the occasional natural problem of red tide into a nearly-statewide disaster along the coasts.

Scott’s campaign responded by pointing out that Scott has said repeatedly he wants pre-existing conditions covered in any health care plan, and that Nelson was making misleading statements about Scott’s environmental record, the nature of red tides, and Scott’s response to them. Scott’s campaign also called him out for not spending more time dealing with Hurricane Michael recovery, as Scott is doing.

But Nelson laid out harsh attacks, with some detail, to back up his assertions.

“I was in Vero Beach yesterday. Dead fish. People with surgical masks on the beach. People hacking and wheezing on the beach. And businesses are getting hurt. Today, that red tide is off of Melbourne. And the same thing has happened,” Nelson said.

“Why? For eight years, Rick Scott has systematically dismantled the environmental regulatory agencies. He has passed the law that eliminates the periodic inspections of leaking septic tanks. He has starved the water management disticts of money. And he has abolished the growth management agency, the Department of Community Affairs. When you do all those things, you see the results,” Nelson charged.

“When you add pollution to the fresh waterways of Florida, you’re going to get algae. … And that is the legacy of Rick Scott,” he concluded.

Yet he and Demings mainly pounded Scott over his and the Republican Party’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare; Scott’s refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion included in that act that would have provided federal money to cover an estimated 800,000; and Scott’s support for a federal lawsuit that would eliminate the mandate that states require insurance plans to not discriminate against clients with pre-existing health problems.

“Yesterday Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said, in the new Congress, he said ‘We’re gong to go back and we’re going to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. For people this is a matter of life or death. For other people this is a matter of whether they have health care or not. And we have three of those people right here.”

Added Demings, “When people do not have access to health care, they get sicker, or they die.”

“Gov. Scott has made it crystal clear that protecting people with pre-existing conditions is a crucial and necessary part of any healthcare reform,” said Scott’s campaign spokesman Chris Hartline. “Maybe if Sen. Nelson spent more time working to fix our broken healthcare system than he does spreading misleading information, this conversation wouldn’t even be happening. It’s sad that instead of helping Florida’s Panhandle recover from Hurricane Michael, Senator Nelson has chosen to spread falsehoods about Gov. Scott’s record.

As for the red tide criticism, Hartline responded, “These are more misleading and desperate claims from Bill Nelson. Under the Governor’s leadership, Florida passed major legislation to ensure the public is made aware within 24 hours of the release of any harmful substance. Not exactly what I would call “relaxed environmental regulations.”

“Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency due to the impacts of red tide in August – and since then he has continued to take real action, like securing millions of dollars to help impacted communities,” Hartline added. “Additionally, red tide is naturally occurring – and even scientists at Mote Marine Lab have called out the absurdity of blaming Gov. Scott for this natural phenomenon.”

Records sought for correspondence between Rick Scott’s official office, campaign

A photo of Gov. Rick Scott acting in his official capacity following Hurricane Michael made its way into an ad for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign.

That’s not sitting well with a liberal Super PAC invested in Florida’s closely watched top-ticket races.

American Bridge 21st Century filed a three-pronged public record request on Wednesday with the Governor’s Office. The group wants any email correspondence between the state and the campaign from the past week, along with any mentions of visual materials of Hurricane Michael recovery efforts and a list of any “filming expenses” incurred by Scott’s state office.

Hurricane Michael made landfall a week ago in Mexico Beach as a powerful Category 4 storm. Since then, Scott has traveled the areas hit in the storm’s path, speaking to local officials, assisting affected communities and coordinating with federal authorities.

On Monday, Scott’s Senate campaign announced the candidate would leave the trail limelight, citing the need for Scott to focus on hurricane recovery efforts. Wife Ann Scott would take over in his absence, the campaign said.

On Tuesday, the Scott campaign unveiled a new television ad extolling the Governor’s hurricane response, while criticizing his Democratic opponent Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott is “leading hurricane recovery, directing relief efforts, and even housing state troopers in his own home,” the ad’s narrator says, displaying an image presumably captured by staff members of the Office of the Governor.

The still shows Scott speaking to state troopers in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. The duplicative was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

American Bridge spokesperson Amelia Penniman charged that the use of the image “strongly suggests Scott used taxpayer-funded government resources to capture video footage for use by his campaign.”

“We expect a swift response and thorough explanation,” Penniman added, referencing the pending records request.

A spokesperson for Scott’s state office redirected questions to the campaign. As of publishing, the campaign had not yet responded.

Whether Scott’s official office took the photo in question, however, has not been disputed. Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone told the Times, “Those photos were released publicly and anyone can use them, including the media and our opponents.”

Rick Scott, Bill Nelson fault each other for canceled CNN debate

One of the most bitterly disputed features of Florida’s U.S. Senate race is if or when the candidates will convene to talk about real issues.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott have swapped accusations of debate dodging since the summer. The latest development: a canceled CNN forum, prompting more sparks to fly in the debate debacle.

“Regrettably, Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott are unable to agree on a new date to hold the U.S. Senate debate originally scheduled to air Tuesday, Oct 16,” an account associated with the cable news network tweeted on Wednesday. “Therefore, the CNN Florida Senate debate has been canceled.”

The debate, once approved by both candidates, had been postponed last week after Hurricane Michael devastated Florida’s Panhandle. Both candidates agreed to delay the forum.

Scott’s campaign wanted to reschedule the debate for Oct. 25 and early this week began suggesting Nelson would back out.

That’s precisely what Nelson did, according to Scott’s campaign.

Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said in an email that CNN had proposed rescheduling the debate for Oct. 25, and that “Nelson refused to debate on the date [CNN] offered.”

As of publishing, the communications office at CNN did not confirm nor deny that Nelson refused.

Schenone also pointed to Scott’s displayed eagerness to face Nelson on stage. The Governor accepted four debates earlier this year, but only two were agreed to by Nelson.

But on Twitter, Nelson is suggesting that Scott refused to debate earlier than Oct. 25.

“We received word from CNN it will cancel our Senate debate,” Nelson tweeted. “Rick Scott refused to debate before early voting starts en masse Oct. 22.”

Early voting begins statewide on Oct. 27, though some large counties, including Miami-Dade, will open up the polls on Oct. 22. Vote-by-mail is already is underway.

A request for comment was left with a spokesperson for the Nelson campaign.

From Scott’s perspective, it’s a matter of Nelson not wanting to face him one more time ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“Bill Nelson ducks CNN debate,” Scott tweeted. “Refuses to reschedule after Hurricane Michael delay. Sad but not surprising. I hope he reconsiders. Senate won’t be in session – can’t imagine what’s more important than talking to voters.”

‘You just can’t trust’ Rick Scott, according to new ad

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has released a new ad accusing his Republican opponent, Rick Scott, of “stuffing his own pockets” during his time as Governor.

Nelson, who is defending his Senate seat against a challenge from Scott, also accused the former health care CEO of “ripping of Medicare” in order to build his fortune.

The 30-second spot is titled “Got Rich.” The ad’s release comes the same day The New York Times published a report on Scott’s finances during his time as Governor. The article says Scott set up a blind trust while leading the state that was “blind in name only,” and allowed Scott to discover information about his financial holdings.

“Question: How did Rick Scott get rich?,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Answer: Ripping off Medicare. As a CEO, Scott ran a health care company that was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. Then, Scott got $300 million as he was forced out the door.

“As Governor, Scott got even richer, making $550 million on one transaction hidden from the voters. Everywhere he’s gone, Rick Scott has stuffed his own pockets. Rick Scott, you just can’t trust him.”

Of course, Nelson makes mention of Scott’s departure from Columbia/HCA shortly before the company was issued that massive fine.

As for that $550 million transaction? The Miami Herald reported in July on the 2017 sale of Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a plastic manufacturing company Scott owned a 2/3 stake in.

According to the paper, Scott met with several bidders of that company in 2013 during a trip to Japan. And Scott’s son-in-law and financial adviser both served as board members for CSP.

It’s unclear whether Scott knew of the machinations of a potential sale, despite purportedly establishing that “blind trust.”

A request for comment from the Scott campaign was not returned.

Prevent red tide? Start with more wetlands, experts say

Three Democratic federal lawmakers will work toward increasing water quality monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico and creating more wetlands to clean water flowing into the Gulf and other waterways.

U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson crafted a preliminary action plan Wednesday after meeting with local scientists and business leaders about the ongoing impacts of red tide.

“Even though the tourism numbers have been up … boy, this could really set us back unless we work together to address the red tide,” Castor said during a roundtable discussion in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Three scientists with varying areas of expertise all agreed: Red tide is a naturally occurring environmental phenomenon, but large blooms are likely fueled by warmer Gulf temperatures as the result of climate change and, possibly, by nutrient runoff from agriculturE.

Jacqueline Dixon, Dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, compared red tide to naturally-occurring bacteria in the human body.

“As long as those conditions are conducive to a healthy ecosystem, we’re all good,” Dixon said. “But should we change those conditions, then one bacteria can bloom and cause an infection.”

She explained red tide naturally grows at the bottom of the Gulf. It’s a plant, she said, and when you feed plants nutrients, they grow.

The explanation lends to the argument among critics of Gov. Rick Scott that environmental deregulation under his administration has increased the likelihood of a harmful red tide algal bloom.

William Mitsch, director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park, said that may be the case, but scientists have yet to find steadfast evidence proving that it is the culprit. Further, he said even if it is a culprit, it’s not the only one.

Climate change is increasing water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. That paired with increased rain and nutrient runoff from Florida agriculture creates “a toxic brew” ripe for red tide development.

“Can we change the temp of the Gulf of Mexico? Probably not,” Mitsch said.

But he said Florida legislators and federal officials can take steps to mitigate red tide occurrences by better regulating nutrient pollution and creating new wetlands that serve as a filter for water before it reaches the Gulf.

Mitsch recommends adding 100,000 acres of wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee. He said it’s crucial that water flow be directed south – its natural course – rather than east and west to the Gulf and Atlantic shorelines.

Nelson and his Republican colleague, Sen. Marco Rubio, successfully included provisions for wetlands in the recent Clean Water Act that includes 6,500 acres of new wetland-like land and a 10,500-foot reservoir to tame nutrient-rich water runoff.

Mitsch cautioned that’s not enough: “If you have 100,000 acres of new wetlands, you don’t need that reservoir.”

The three federal lawmakers all lamented that politics was getting in the way of clean water. Crist said he supported federal funds for buying land to create new wetlands, but implied his hands are tied.

“Talk to me in three weeks,” he said, referring to the Nov. 6 election.

“Elections matter. If we have a governor … who does not [understand or believe in climate change], or one that won’t let people in the environmental agencies utter the words ‘climate change,’ you have a problem.”

Scott, who defeated Crist for Governor in 2014, came under fire during his administration after issuing a memo telling staff not to use the term “climate change.”

Scott denies that claim and points to reports from departments within his administration that have studied climate change and sea level rise. He also defends his environmental track record including allocating $300 million for flood mitigation and resiliency.

Crist supports Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor over Republican Ron DeSantis. DeSantis recently acknowledged pollution might be an exacerbating factor in red tide, but said it’s not the state’s job to mitigate it. Gillum has been more direct on the issue of climate change.

Climate change is real, it is impacting Floridians directly, and we will not be silenced on the matter. When I’m Governor, we will not just talk about climate change: We will put Floridians to work to make our state more energy independent and resilient and transform our state into the Solar Capital of the United States,” Gillum wrote on Facebook last March.

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