Government

Gov. Rick Scott: Leaving on His Own Jet Plane

Using his Raytheon Hawker 400, this governor pays for all his air travel
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: March 2, 2011 3:55 AM
Hawker 400 private jet

A Raytheon Beechcraft Hawker 400 XP, similar to the jet owned by Gov. Rick Scott | Credit: Hawker Beechcraft

Compared to previous governors and Cabinet members, Gov. Rick Scott is saving Florida millions of dollars in air travel expenses.

In fact, Scott personally picks up the tab for all official and personal flights on his Raytheon Hawker 400 jet.

"Governor Scott does not bill Florida or get any reimbursement for his private [jet] flights. It's his plane and he pays the bills," says Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the governor. "Any time his plane flies, he pays for it -- whatever the reason for the travel."

Such clear-blue-sky transparency is a far cry from the controversial itineraries of his predecessor and previous Cabinet members.

In 2009, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum took flak for their frequent use of state planes.

Sink took hundreds of flights on state aircraft at taxpayer expense. McCollum logged fewer trips but, like Sink, often dispatched state planes to pick him up near his home. Both Sink and McCollum -- each of whom ran for governor -- faced ethics complaints over their trips.

Gov. Charlie Crist tended to avoid the state planes, instead relying on private-jet owners to ferry him around.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in 2009 that Crist hopped on businessmen's planes more than 100 times during his first two years in office. All were Republican Party fund-raisers, who either gifted the flights or were reimbursed by the state party.

Crist said he paid for his private flights, but declined to say how much.

Gov. Jeb Bush got the jet set revved up in 2003 when the state bought a $5.3 million Cessna Citation jet for his use.

Citing the $3.5 million-a-year cost to maintain the state's two planes, Scott sold the Cessna and a King Air 350 turboprop last month.

State Senate Ways and Means Chairman J.D. Alexander had previously called for the sale of at least one of the planes, noting the propensity for top politicians to mix business and pleasure in the air.

But when Scott actually sold both aircraft for $3.66 million, the Lake Wales Republican accused the governor of overstepping his authority. Scott responded that the sale was within his scope of responsibility, and he advised his colleagues to find alternate means of transportation.

Scott's Hawker 400 is a seven-passenger, twin-engine jet that can hit speeds of 539 mph. Selling for $7 million-plus, the plane's manufacturer, Raytheon Beechcraft, calls it "the world's best light-jet value."

In addition to maintaining, fueling and staffing his jet (which requires a two-pilot crew), the governor pays to park it.

"Just as he’s taking a salary of just 1 cent, he pays for all expenses related to the operation of the aircraft out of his own pocket, even though it’s for state business," said Brian Burgess, communications director for the governor's office. "He pays the tie-down fees, too."

Even the old Department of Management Services sign has been removed from the parking spot "because that's no longer being funded by the state," Burgess added.

After shuttling Scott to Washington, D.C., last week for meetings with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and others, the governor's jet was back in service Tuesday, heading to the Midwest.

Starting in Chicago, Scott is scheduled to make a two-day, four-city swing as part of a "Share a Little Sunshine Tour" to promote Florida tourism.

The jet will carry Scott, two staffers from VisitFlorida, up to three staffers from Scott's office and an FDLE agent -- again, all on the governor's dime, Burgess said.

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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (19)

Bobo
10:32PM MAR 7TH 2011
So did he purchase his aircraft with the stolen / over billing of U.S. tax payers?

A pathilogical liar will tell you anything if you will listen.

The Koch brothers are destroying this country.
BackwardsFlorida
1:49PM MAR 2ND 2011
I guess having your own private jet explains a lot about why Scott doesn't think that Florida needs passenger rail service. All we need to do is buy our own planes to get around the state. Must be a nice life Gov. Scott. Too bad you don't have a clue as to how the rest of us are struggling!
Frank
9:18AM MAR 25TH 2011
To procide you with rail service is a major waste of taxpayer money. Why should I have to pay for your transportation? We have roads, buy a car!
12:09PM MAR 2ND 2011
I'm not impressed that Gov. Scott has reduced the costs of private plane travel by eliminating the state's airplanes. He cost us a bunch of money by doing so and now he has greatly reduced the capabilities of our government workers to travel across the state. It's a long drive from Tallahassee to Miami or Key West and nearly impossible to find a means to travel by air on commercial airlines between Florida cities.

So when our citizens elect our next governor, who might not be a billionaire, we'll end up having to spend even more money so that he has the ability to use a private plane for state business, just like Gov. Scott does. Or does Mr. Scott think that all governors should be billionaires that can afford to donate their airplanes fuel and upkeep to the taxpayers?
Anon.
11:27AM MAR 3RD 2011
Well said. I absolutely agree.
Chad
9:43AM MAR 2ND 2011
But why sell the other planes in a depressed market? They realized half of what Scott was hoping to get? Mothball them, fine. But unless Scott plans to be Governor for Life, his successor will have to purchase a new plane. This is the short-sightedness of the obscenely rich business class: quarterly results are all that matter. Long term strategy is meaningless. Make poor decisions and leave with a 200 million dollar golden parachute like Scott did with Columbia/HCA.
Frank
9:26AM MAR 25TH 2011
Did you not read that it would cost $3.5 million a year to maintain them? In 4 years the state will save $14 million. If he is reelected we will save $28 million, more than enough for his successor to buy a replacement airplane.
Jab161
11:42AM MAR 2ND 2011
Purely political.....on the surface it looked good. By selling the plane it is perceived that he has Florida's best interests at heart. But, what happens when he is no longer Governor? Will the State have to purchase a plane for the new guy? or charter a ton of flights?
Conrad Fitzhume
8:01AM MAR 2ND 2011
So ... The point of this article is that Rick Scott is yet another of the GOP's cast of mega wealthy CEO / politicians who has been so ridiculously over-compensated that he can afford to own and operate his own jet and not accept the salary that comes with his elected office? Medicare fraud must pay very well!
Tea Party Voice
8:16AM MAR 2ND 2011
Conrad... another whinny socialist?


Thank you Rick Scott!
BackwardsFlorida
2:02PM MAR 2ND 2011
To Tea Party Voice...

Don't you have more lawsuits to file against each other? Perhaps a deposition or two? Where exactly does the funding for these lawsuits come from? Wealthy backers I presume.
chad
1:20PM MAR 2ND 2011
"whinny socialists"? Like what you hear when horses work together for the common good? :)
Conrad Fitzhume
10:17AM MAR 2ND 2011
Nope, sorry to burst your ASSumption bubble 'Tea Party Voice'. I'm a middle class, patriotic American, retired firefighter and like MOST of my fellow firefighters and police officers I have been a registered Republican for 34 years. Unfortunately, the GOP has been following a frightening trend of electing only multi millionaire, CEO types (That's right, the same folks who put our great Nation into the financial disaster that we've been experiencing. And in the case of Florida, we've got two elected representatives with very shadybackgrounds: Scott with his CEO supervision of a company that committed Medicare Fraud and Vern Buchanan who reportedly left behind a corporation he bankrupted and investors who he cheated when he left Michigan and owns offshore insurance companies as a way of avoiding paying local, state and federal taxes ... How patriotic !!!). When this trend first began, many of us questioned, "Why on earth would a ridiculously wealthy, CEO want to be bothered with tying himself down to an elected office?". The answer has become quite clear, it is the mission of the GOP to supplement corporate excess at the expense of the hard working middle class (a group that in large part has supported the GOP over the years mainly due to the misconception that GOP candidates were 'patriots' who were 'pro military and pro first responders'. Unfortunately, America's First Responders have learned the hard way that the GOP is as far away from being patriotic supporters of first responders as one could be in light of their repeatedly blocking HR 847 "The Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Bill" during the 111th Congress. As a matter of fact, the GOP held the bill (which would provide needed medication and medical care for the approximately 10,000 first responders who are ill - nearly 1,000 have died in addition to the 403 first responders who were killed on 9/11/01 since America was attacked over nine years ago) hostage until the Democratic members of Congress agreed to vote in favor of tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

BTW, why is it that whenever an American voices their opinion and it doesn't agree with the talking points of Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck we are immediately labeled by someone claiming to representing the 'Tea Party' as "whinny socialists" ???
Ellen Rentz
9:59PM MAR 2ND 2011
Conrad, as another Rep for almost 40 yrs, I have to congratulate you for saying it so well. I am a female middle class person that identified with the Republican party because of their fiscal conservative ideas and promotion of free enterprise. Now it is all hogwash. There is no longer room in the Rep party for moderate ideas - we are RINO'S. If the State of Fl didn't have closed primaries, i would have registered as an Independent a long time ago because of all the crap. They want to legislate morality when they have no business interfering in people's personal lives and they are not funding programs such as HR 847 without getting something in return. You should check "No Labels" just google and you will find the website. It is a growing movement and soon to be influential party of Republicans, Democrats and Independents that will insist upon everyone working together to put our country back on the road to a real recovery. The Tea Party is destroying the GOP and will deserve exactly what they will get - a minority party that is radical beyond belief. Take care.
FLCoast
1:45PM MAR 2ND 2011
Great retort Conrad. In addition to being short-sighted, I am sure that on some level the state of Florida will incur some liability if anything happens to the plane or state officials on board. The tag "whinny socialists" is just one of the insults these people throw at anyone who isn't "pro-big business & development". And you are correct, it is the same people that flushed the US economy down the drain with lack of business oversight and corporate greed that knows no bounds. As for the idea of a "tea party", their idea of progressive is wasting time and money suing each other over who is the "REAL TEA PARTY". Between Scott and that great group..we are in one giant sinkhole here in Florida.
R. Scott
1:26PM MAR 2ND 2011
Conrad,

To better understand us Tea Partiers, you need to understand where we come from. You see, the Tea Party was materialized by a defunct group of Libertarians who realized that their political movement was not going anywhere fast. So in an effort to revitalize their efforts to destroy (not minimize) government they were approached by several different millionaires to systematically privatize everything in the public sector. Google the Koch brothers and you'll see who funds, mobilizes and scripts all of the Tea Party rallies. The Koch brothers, just like several other corporate fat cats, see government as an intrusion governments require corporations to the following: paying corporate taxes, requiring companies to offer sustainable employee benefits, and hold corporations accountable. So now that we Tea Party candidates (aka Libertarians in Republicans clothing) have been elected to office, we can hack and slash public programs such as state pensions, education, and other vital state programs that may improve our quality in life. It is in our best interest to kill any form of eduction because an largely educated population would learn about our real agenda and would vote us out of office. So suppressing education is the best way to guide the blinded sheep. Oh, and to answer you question about Limbaugh, Hannity, or Beck and the loosely use of the term "socialist", well that one is easy. Did I forget to mention our most effective weapon in herding people to the polls? It's Fear. Yes, we loosely use words like "Terrorist" "WMD" and now "Socialist". Anything we can do to spook people into voting for us. Once we are in we pretty much do whatever we want and disregard the masses, that's even if the masses blindly voted us in to power...that's the Tea Party's way. Ordinarily I wouldn't expose the secret ingredients to our secret sauce but since I'm now in office I guess you knowing how we operate doesn't really matter. Hope this helps.
Repubtallygirl
1:57PM MAR 2ND 2011
Your reply was so wrong on so many levels. You have no concept of the Tea Party. I have attended numerous Tea Parties and find people who have never been politically active in their lives, now 'for the first time in my adult life, I fear for my country'.
Your assertion that the Koch Brothers are behind the Tea Party is laughable, who funds the progressive left liberals? George Seros. What is that I hear? Crickets?

Beck has been right about so many things, I have lost count. Yes, there are terrorists in this world who want to see the US fail, and the current administration cannot bring themselves to say 'war on terrorism'. The Obama administration has surrounded themselves with self-proclaimed Communists and socialists who of course we are going to call them on it.

Thank you Governor Scott, and much to the whining left who lost in historic numbers, the people of the State of FL who elected you, thank you.
Conrad Fitzhume
9:19AM MAR 3RD 2011
So ... A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies. He looks at the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."
Conrad Fitzhume
2:44PM MAR 2ND 2011
'Repubtallygirl': I posted only FACTS ... You posted misleading statements, "Your assertion that the Koch Brothers are behind the Tea Party is laughable ..." and "Beck has been right about so many things, I have lost count." titles and name calling ... this seems to be the only defense that the GOP / Tea Party crew is able to muster. Here's another fact, if you are a member of the middle class, your support of the GOP / Tea Party will prove to be self destructive as their main mission is to eliminate the middle class while burying themselves in yet more wealth ...

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