Florida’s term-limited Republican governor, Rick Scott, launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Monday — painting himself as a Washington outsider despite his track record of policy ideas that fall right in line with the Trump administration’s priorities.
“We have to all acknowledge that Washington’s a disaster. There’s a lot of tired thinking up there. Here’s what we shouldn’t be doing — we shouldn’t be sending the same types of people to Washington,” Scott said in Orlando on Monday morning.
Scott will challenge incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), the only state-wide elected Democrat in Florida and one of 10 Democrats running for re-election in a state that President Trump won in 2016.
Scott told Politico in an interview Sunday night that he is not a “Donald Trump Republican.”
“I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything,” Scott said, despite the fact he has never shied away from his friendship with Trump, who owns a number of properties — including his “Winter White House” Mar-a-Lago — in Florida.
But Rick Scott’s actions in the eight years since he first took office fall right in line with the Trump administration.
Rick Scott has successfully prevented Americans from voting
Florida is in the middle of a decades-long battle to restore voting rights to convicted felons. Long seen as a relic of the past, Scott has been called “Florida’s Jim Crow” governor for maintaining the state’s clemency system.
A federal judge recently rejected Scott’s attempts to avoid creating a new system that would allow ex-felons to regain their voting rights.
A court ruled in February that Florida’s process for restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions is unconstitutional, because it allows the state’s clemency board to pick and choose who can have their rights restored and when. Under that system, Florida required all ex-felons to wait five years, then petition Scott and the three cabinet members who sit on the board for clemency.
Scott has until April 26 to propose a new fix that doesn’t violate the constitution.
But instead of going to work on that new plan, last week Scott motioned to stay the ruling, claiming it is unreasonable to suggest his administration should “revamp a 150-year-old vote-restoration scheme in 30 days.”
The judge rejected the motion and admonished Scott’s actions, calling it a “fit of histrionics.”
This is just the most recent example of Scott attempting to preventing Americans from accessing the ballot.
In 2011, Scott ordered the state to purge all “non-citizens” from the voting rolls prior to the 2012 election. But the list of supposed “non-citizens” compiled by his administration was rife with errors — and more than 20 percent of the voters flagged as “non-citizens” in Miami-Dade County were actually citizens.
The move was, of course, illegal.
Florida voters during the 2012 election year endured chaos and marathon voting lines due to reduced early voting hours and voter registration restrictions pushed by Republican legislators and Gov. Scott. According to a report by the Palm Beach Post, several prominent Florida Republicans admitted the election law changes were geared toward suppressing the votes of minority and Democratic voters.
Rick Scott has an A+ rating from the NRA
The gun lobby has a long, storied history in the state of Florida and for the past eight years, Rick Scott has been its biggest asset.
“Rick Scott has an unmatched record of support for the Second Amendment in Florida,” said Chris W. Cox, the chairman of the NRA’s political action fund, in a 2014 statement ahead of Scott’s re-election. “Rick has signed more pro-gun bills into law in one term than any other governor in Florida history. Law-abiding gun owners in Florida have a true friend in Rick Scott.”
During Scott’s first year in office, Florida’s NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer, worked tirelessly to implement a law that would prevent mayors and city officials from implementing gun control regulations on the municipal level, or else be fined $5,000 and face a thread of removal from office — a statute brought back into the spotlight after a shooter in Parkland, Florida killed 17 students and faculty last February.
Hammer also pushed Rick Scott to sign the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, later called “Docks vs. Glocks.” The law prohibited doctors from asking patients if they owned a firearm, a question occasionally posed by physicians to assess any potential health hazards. According to the NRA, this is considered an invasion of privacy. Scott signed the bill and 6 years later, a federal court deemed the law to be unconstitutional.
Scott has also enabled gun manufacturers to thrive in Florida. In 2012, the state legislature cut funding for school safety by $1.8 million and $5.7 million for mental health programs was vetoed by Scott. The state was able to scrap together $10 million for economic incentives that gun manufactures, in addition to violent film and video game productions.
When George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed unarmed black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, Scott was faced with public pressure to reevaluate Stand Your Ground, legislation signed by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R). The law ruled justified lethal use of force so long as the shooter “reasonably” believed that physical harm was imminent, which was a big reason why Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges of second degree murder and manslaughter.
Scott stood by the the law then and continues to do so today. In 2017, Scott signed a bolstered Stand Your Ground law that made it easier for defendants to claim self-defense, by shifting the burden of proof in pretrial hearings to prosecutors instead of defendants.
While Scott broke with the NRA on the recent suite of common sense gun laws he signed into law after the Parkland shooting, he is going to need their financial support for a Senate run. When Scott ran for re-election in 2014, the NRA “flooded Florida homes with millions of mailers to help Scott clinch reelection,” according to the Miami Herald.
Rick Scott is just plain shady
Rick Scott has been making suspicious business deals even before he was a politician.
In 1997, Scott oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in United States history.
He resigned as the CEO of health care giant Columbia/HCA amid an FBI investigation into the company’s fraudulent billing practices which resulted in the company being charged with 14 felonies and paying $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines for Medicare fraud. According to investigators, Scott and other company executives violated federal law by offering financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals. Some Columbia/HCA employees claimed they were fired, punished, or forced to delete records for raising their concerns about the company’s practices with supervisors.
Scott claims he was never charged with a crime and never interviewed by the FBI.
As governor, Rick Scott spent $700,000 in taxpayer funds to settle seven public records lawsuits alleging he and a number of his staff violated state laws by creating email accounts to shield communications from state public records laws.
Scott met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the days leading up to the announcement that Florida would be “off the table” for offshore drilling after it was previously announced the state would be subject to offshore drilling. Records obtained by Politico reaffirm the perception at the time that “the Trump administration’s decision to reverse course and remove Florida from the list was carefully choreographed to give Scott a political win.”
He continuously struggled with how to disclose his wealth and conflicts of interest while in office.
In short, he’ll fit right in in Washington, D.C.