Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rick Scott's Record of Cronyism

My next section is on cronyism, which includes for my purposes anywhere Rick Scott shows favoritism based on campaign donations, friendships, or considerations other than the public good which was entrusted to him (including to benefit himself). All politicians do this, of course, but Scott has taken it to such an extreme that even his own former Lt. Governor has accused him of it.

I don't need to say much else by way of analysis, since this is the type of thing that speaks for itself, with these items from my list:

Rick Scott has used his position to reward his friends at the expense of the taxpayer, even as he cuts services to those taxpayers.

19) Rick Scott has given Gary Swoope, the head of Enterprise Florida, a raise in salary, a bonus, and a substantial “golden parachute,” at a time when he claims cutbacks are needed n state spending.

As we have seen, Swoope’s performance has been nothing deserving of a raise, but even if it had been, it is incredible that such generous raises and bonuses were given to him at a time when Scott is also laying off hundreds of state workers, and so many more are unemployed.

20) Rick Scott has accepted an enormous campaign donation ($500,000) from someone who not only laid off 476 Florida workers, but has also fleeced vulnerable veterans.

The donor in question, Bill Edwards, has responded that he gave his laid off employees two months’ severance pay, but that is small comfort when the long term unemployed in the state are often out of work for a year or more.

21) Rick Scott flouted his own law requiring speedier executions, and trivialized human life, by allowing his attorney general, Pam Bondi, to move an execution so she could attend a fundraiser.

Despite signing a law streamlining the execution process (the Timely Justice Act), Scott authorized the delay of the execution of Marshall Lee Gore, thereby trivializing Gore’s victims and their families. He claims not to have known why Bondi asked for the delay, but this is not believable, given Scott’s history as a micromanager. It also does not affect the fact that granting the delay was contrary to the spirit of his own law. (Note that this applies regardless of where you stand on the death penalty.)

22) Rick Scott has made several questionable key appointments which have resulted in resignations.

During Scott’s administration, several key posts have been vacated because of some moral scandal. This points to questionable judgment by Scott. On that list: Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll;  Director of Economic Opportunity Hunting Deutsch; Education head Tony Bennett,  Chief of Staff Steve McNamara, jobs chief Doug Darling, and Department of Children and Families head David Wilkins. To this we can also add Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth, who though he has not resigned as of this date, has been scandalized by having falsely reported his educational accomplishments on job applications. Amazingly, Scott has said of several of these people before they resigned, that they were doing a “good job” or “great job.”

23) Rick Scott created a job for one of his disgraced agency heads.

Carl Littlefield resigned from the Agency of Persons with Disabilities in the face of imminent scandal. At a time when other state workers were being laid off, he was then given a job created for him in the Department of Children and Families.

24) Rick Scott dismissed the state’s nursing home ombudsman and replaced him with an ideological crony.

Brian Lee was an aggressive advocate for quality nursing home care. He was replaced by one of Scott’s ideological cronies, who is now under investigation for being too lax.

25) Rick Scott cut funds to all colleges in the state – except one from the hometown of his 
Lt. Governor, Jennifer Carroll.

The cuts to colleges will have their own point below. Nevertheless, this is pure cronyism. 

Compounding the favoritism is the fact that Scott’s spokesman lied about why the school was spared.

26) Rick Scott granted special favor to Heritage Insurance after it made a large campaign contribution.

Heritage got a $52 million contract, months after it contributed $110,000 to Scott’s campaign. Scott claimed he had nothing to do with the deal, but one of his appointees is on the approving committee, and even if his hands are clean, he should return the donation to avoid conflict of interest, and even some of Scott’s own Republican allies have recognized the problem.

148) Rick Scott pandered to an absurd idea to build golf courses in state parks.

This was a sop to Jack Nickalus, who is now holding a 10K a plate dinner to raise funds for Scott’s election. As this Golf Week article points out, the idea was an absurd one: Florida has enough golf courses as is, and the legislation indicated a no-bid contract for Nickalus.

156) Rick Scott rewarded a donating group with a $1.8 million contract.

And to make matters worse, he evaded answering questions about it, as did the Florida Republican Party.

157) Rick Scott’s campaign finance chairman has contracts to serve Medicaid patients in Florida.

This is a clear conflict of interest, especially when said chairman has donated $1 million to Scott’s campaign.

164) Rick Scott rejected high speed rail between Orlando and Tampa, but accepted it between Orlando and Miami – under a contract that would benefit the former employer of his Chief of Staff.

Can we say, “cronyism”?

165) Rick Scott wants President Obama to act on flood insurance rate hikes, but in the past, cut off Florida’s ability to negotiate for lower health insurance rates.

Regardless of where you stand on either issue, the hypocrisy is glaring.

166) Rick Scott is pandering to Florida voters by asking Obama to act on these flood insurance rates.

As one of the articles above notes, there is already a bill moving through Congress, and expected to pass, taking care of this issue.

172) Rick Scott recommended a major donor for a major state contract.

The cronyism keeps coming!

175) Rick Scott has a corrupt relationship with one of his biggest donors.

No summary can do justice to this story:

Before the Legislature convenes in Tallahassee next Tuesday, Coral Gables healthcare tycoon Miguel B. “Mike” Fernandez will host a Sunday afternoon BBQ with Gov. Rick Scott, his wife Ann, and key members of the governor’s campaign finance team.
Fernandez, dubbed “Florida’s newest billionaire” last year by Florida Trend, was named finance co-chair for Scott’s campaign in January. In the announcement, the governor called Fernandez a “close friend.”

But Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, is more than Scott’s friend. He’s also a huge contributor to his re-election campaign and the owner or co-owner of fast-growing healthcare companies that under Scott’s administration have been awarded multiple, multi-year state contracts potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Most of those lucrative contracts involve Florida Medicaid, which is implementing managed care changes, including the Managed Medical Assistance program. The program is expected to begin in May…

On November 2, 2013, as the governor’s re-election campaign was stirring, Fernandez personally gave $1 million to Let’s Get to Work. No one else has written a check that large in support of Scott’s re-election.

Sunday’s get-together at Fernandez’s opulent Little River Plantation, not far from Tallahassee, is a by invitation only event. The public is not invited.

Miami Herald political reporter Marc Caputo recently obtained a copy of the invitation and accompanying email:

“As an important member of Governor Rick Scott’s finance team, Mike Fernandez is opening his home to you. He is not a public person and believes we need to meet each other in person and in a social setting…Nothing formal (casual jeans and casual setting.) 

We will chat, have BBQ and see beautiful horses…We need to come together so we can deliver victory together,” the email said.

Little River Plantation features a 7,000 square foot home with six bedrooms, seven baths, a full gourmet kitchen and a great room, according to its web site. There’s a smaller lake house nearby.

“Your every whim will be coddled within the walls of our fabulous homes away from home,” prospective guests are told.

190) Rick Scott has a personal friend managing his alleged “blind” trust fund.

192) Rick Scott hypocritically cancelled a money-saving move of a Pensacola parole office.

Scott, in the past, was on a rampage cutting Corrections costs, including handing the jobs of state workers over the a private company. But when faced with protestors, Scott cancelled a move that would have saved $33,000 a year. What happened to his principles?

194) Rick Scott has released an election ad promoting himself for funding cancer research.

This is clearly an election year stunt, since he cut cancer research money earlier in his term.

195) Rick Scott cancelled a talk by a professor critical of his policies.

Of course, the decision was probably made by his staff, but it speaks to the climate he engenders. The decision was later reversed under pressure.

199) Rick Scott had a fundraiser hosted by a drug clinic owner whose company abused patients.

210) Rick Scott has favored a utility special interest that donated a half million to his campaign.

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