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Nancy Smith

Ethics Question: More Evidence of the Treacherous Terrain in Tally for Rick Scott

June 24, 2012 - 6:00pm

Daniel Ruth is a funny guy. I like colorful writing, so I'm a big fan. But mostly I like his columns' style, not so much their content.

Poking fun at Rick Scott for running a PR move by the Florida Commission on Ethics? If the governor hadn't done it -- if he had recorded a greeting for Republican National Convention visitors at Tampa International Airport without the blessing of the state rules committee -- the Tampa Bay Times columnist and every one of these left-sided scribes in Tallahassee would have been on him like a Star Trek tractor beam.

Have a look at Ruth's June 18 column, "In Florida's ethical swamp, swatting a gnat."

Florida must be an awful place and Scott must be awfuller.

  • Why would we want Rick Scott to welcome visitors anyway? Says Ruth, he's "a public figure who is not even popular with his own constituents."
  • OK, we don't like the governor. How about his message for visitors? No good, claims Ruth. It's "an inane public service announcement."
  • Wasn't Scott acting honorably when he asked the Commission on Ethics if his recorded greeting would violate the ban on gifts from lobbyists? Apparently not. The Times columnist wrote that Scott "was pretending to be the Simon Pure of Tallahassee by giving literal lip-service to the Florida Commission on Ethics ..."
  • If the ethics commission cleared the governor for recording a welcome message, isn't he good to go now? Absolutely not, to hear Ruth tell it. The ethics law is "toothless" and the commission that hears cases like Scott's is part of a Florida "awash in wink-winking ethical shenanigans."

I guess this will teach the governor. He tries to do the right thing, and the libs don't like it. Heaven forbid Rick Scott should be seen to play by the rules. Next time, maybe he should just bull ahead past the ethics commission and take his licks on the other end.

To be truly sure he's kicked the governor good -- and to get one last sucker punch in -- the columnist winds up by suggesting that Scott should-have-but-didn't run his acceptance of PAC contributions by the ethics commission -- $250,000 each from Las Vegas' Sheldon Adelson and Florida Power & Light Co.

It was a low blow. In the first place, there is no ethics breach. Scott's Let's Get to Work PAC operates according to campaign finance law. You don't like the law? Fair enough, work to change it. But in the meantime, it is what it is.

In the second place, during the 2012 legislative session, the governor showed less interest in casinos for Florida than the Miami Herald did when it sold its waterfront Miami property to Malaysian-based casino giant Genting for $236 million. Adelson, FPL, most of the big players in the state will paper Tallahassee with money in an election year. Political sides won't make a difference.

In the third place, if Scott is as unpopular with Floridians as Ruth claims, he's going to need every dime he can raise to win re-election. More power to him. The media ridiculed him when he paid for his campaign in 2010, this time he's going to make sure his personal checkbook stays shut.

As far as the welcome message, bring it on. Not just in Tampa either. Put it in all the airports, place "Welcome to Florida" billboards with Scott's face at every interstate Florida border. This governor is marketing the state and it makes sense.

Other states' governors do it and do it well. Why shouldn't ours?

Reach Nancy Smith at or at (850) 727-0859.

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