Quick recap: Gov. Rick Scott ousted Gerald Bailey, who was the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He is a 35-year veteran who worked closely with Rick Scott in his first term. But then, as he always does, Rick Scott asked Bailey for a few favors:
Unlike Rick Scott, Bailey has ethics. He refused.
•Scott's office asked Bailey to falsely claim that a local official was being criminally investigated in connection with an escape from a state prison — an escape Scott's staff didn't want to be blamed for.
•Scott's staff asked Bailey to quickly conclude an investigation into an ally whom Scott wanted to appoint to a state board. Said Bailey: "Scott wanted the case to go away."
•Scott's campaign improperly asked Bailey to get involved with Scott's re-election campaign. When Bailey objected to mixing public and private business, he said Scott's staff told him to simply delete the email ... even though it was sent to his public email account.
So he was given an ultimatum: "Retire or resign".
Bailey resigned. That probably would have been the end of it. However, in typical Rick Scott fashion, he took things too far. He took to a podium to express shock (shock I say!) that the popular leader of FDLE resigned "suddenly" and feigned ignorance about why he left so quickly. He even pretended to be upset about it. This was all a little too much for Gerald Bailey.
Bailey went right to the Tampa Bay Times and said Rick Scott himself forced him out. Bailey wouldn't fabricate a criminal investigation just to help Scott's unethical staff. He wouldn't close the other investigation and flatly refused to be a party to election fraud. So Rick Scott forced him out.
When the story hit, Rick Scott's staff went on a smear campaign (like they always do). It's obviously Bailey who was lying because who are you going to believe: a respected 35-year veteran lawman who was entrusted (by Scott no less) to run the state police? or the always ethical Rick Scott?
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Scott ally but who wants higher office someday, described Bailey's ouster as "shabby". Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater also complained about the way Bailey was ousted.
Both of them have demanded an investigation.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, however, is having none of it. In fact, she was indignant that someone would question her man:
"Did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it," Bondi said to reporters.
Later, she added: "I do not think that Rick Scott would do that. I think it was done at the staff level. I firmly believe it was done at the staff level."
Bondi had to admit, however, that she had no proof to back her opinion. She also admitted that she never discussed the matter with Rick Scott.
I can't blame the woman. PamBo has been accused of worse and she'll be damned if she ever investigates herself.
Scott is so dishonest and inept that I do think that he is going to be brought down before his term ends. I don't know if this will be the final straw, or another future scandal (and there will be plenty) that will be his ultimate undoing. All I can guarantee is that no matter how bad it is, Pam Bondi will be right there to defending him from any consequences.