The battle for Florida pits a corrupt Republican Governor against an ex-Republican Governor
There’s a big governor’s race this November between incumbent Republican Rick Scott and the previous Republican governor, Charlie Crist. Both of their stories are quite strange, especially since Charlie Crist has become a Democrat.
From 2007-2011, Charlie Crist was governor of Florida after a long political career in the state that included Attorney General. In 2009, Crist announced that he would not be running for governor again choosing instead to run for the U.S. Senate.
Crist chose to run as an independent for the Senate seat, but endorsed President Obama in the 2012 election. Not surprisingly, Crist was flat out vilified and rejected, especially with Tea Partiers and was defeated by Marco Rubio in the senate race. Meanwhile, Rick Scott became the new governor of Florida in 2010.
Rick Scott is a real piece of Tea Party work. One day out of the blue he announced he was running for Florida governor. I remember being confused as to why Scott got into politics in the first place, but then I remembered he and his partners owned the largest hospital company in the world.
By 1997, Columbia/HCA had become the world’s largest health care provider with more than 340 hospitals, 130 surgery centers, and 550 home health locations in 38 states and two foreign countries. Then the house of cards fell and Rick Scott (who wasn’t indicted) and Columbia/HCA was ordered to pay the largest fine in fraud history, $631 million plus interest. Rick Scott was forced to resign.
I thought after seeing Rick Scott on 60 Minutes and excerpts of his deposition wherein he pleaded the 5th Amendment 75 times that he would disappear into obscurity. I was wrong. He became a venture capitalist and started investing in businesses, many with ties to health care.
Shortly after becoming Governor, Scott denied the Medicaid expansion of Obamacare and has left nearly 1,000,000 Floridians without health insurance coverage, something Charlie Crist has promised to change.
In 2011, Scott also rejected federal funding in the amount of $2.3 billion to build a high speed train from Orlando to Tampa. Not only would this have created jobs, but it would have helped state tourism immensely given the amount of tourist attractions in both cities. Charlie Crist has also promised to accept these funds and start the high speed train as soon as he is elected.
Governor Scott then signed a bill to test recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) for drugs. If a recipient tests positive, they lose their benefits immediately and must pay for the cost of the test. Problem is, only 2.5% of applicants tested positive and for those who are clean, taxpayers must pick up the tab.
Not only does this ridiculous testing program cost the State of Florida far more than it saves, you must remember what business Rick Scott has spent his life in. If you thought Governor Scott did not want you to pay attention, read this from the Miami Herald:
“If you have a $62 million investment, representing the biggest single chunk of your $218 million in wealth, and you put it in a trust under your wife’s name, does that mean you’re no longer involved in the company?” Florida Gov. Rick Scott says it does.
“Scott has aggressively pursued policies like testing state workers and welfare recipients for drugs, switching Medicaid patients to private HMOs and shrinking public health clinics. All these changes could benefit that $62 million investment, but Scott sees no legal conflict between his public role and private investments” Experts say, under Florida law he is correct.
The testing has been ruled unconstitutional and is currently under appeal. This case will probably make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rick Scott has tried over and over to redistrict Florida. He has been particularly ruthless when it comes to the homeless. He has always denied climate change science and like all Republicans, Rick Scott supports overturning Roe v. Wade.
Lastly, Rick Scott has tried to gut education. In his first year, he cut $1.3 billion in funding. In his second year he cut $300,000 million to state universities. $1 billion of funding has since been restored, but the damage has been done (and continues).
Although Charlie Crist has had his bumps in the road and was a Republican before he endorsed a Democratic president, I think Crist is the far lessor of two evils and far less corrupt.