Rick Scott and Charlie Crist Exchange Ethics Charges

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

The two leading gubernatorial candidates are exchanging attacks over ethics as the mud is flying, even with more than four and a half months to go until the election.

After qualifying for the ballot on Monday, former Gov. Charlie Crist’s team went after Gov. Rick Scott on education. Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott despite spending most of his political life as a Republican.

“Rick Scott cut $1.3 billion from education his first year in office,” insisted Jessica Clark, Crist’s deputy campaign manager, on Monday, adding that it was only “the tip of the iceberg,” before doubling down on her attack against the governor.

“Scott tried to cut almost $5 billion from K-12 education -- and that's on top of slashing Bright Futures scholarships, and admitting that if given the chance, he would have let 20,000 teachers lose their jobs," Clark added, before offering her take on how Scott’s office runs.

“Maybe Scott would pay attention to our schools if principals could write six-figure checks.” Clark continued. “After all, that's how corporations get special attention from the governor's office these days. It's downright despicable.”

The Florida Democratic Party released a new television ad which will be on the air in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach on Tuesday which jabs Scott’s record in the private sector. Crist has promised to focus on Scott’s record at Columbia/HCA, a tactic that did not pay off for other candidates in the 2010 gubernatorial election such as then-state CFO Alex Sink and then-Attorney General Bill McCollum.

“Floridians need a governor who they can trust will wake up every day to fight for the middle class,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant on Tuesday. “As a CEO, Rick Scott oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in American history at the expense of patients, seniors, and taxpayers. As governor, Scott has broken our trust again, cutting education to pay for tax giveaways and special deals for the wealthiest Floridians, his political contributors, and special interests. The Florida Democratic Party is making sure middle-class Floridians know why Rick Scott can’t be trusted to fight for them in a second term -- just look at his record."

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But Scott’s team fired back on Tuesday, noting that Crist had ties with numerous shady associates including convicted fraudster Scott Rothstein and longtime political ally Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) who is now in prison for embezzlement.

“If Charlie Crist wants to talk about trust and ethics, just ask him about his felon friends who said Crist had direct knowledge of their illegal and unethical behavior,” said Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the RPOF, on Tuesday. “Or, you can ask the voters that he lied to for many <years> as a Republican, or the Democrats he now claims to be telling the truth to.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (3)

11:45AM JUN 18TH 2014
I recently moved to Florida, and I can't wait to help vote Rick Scott out of office. He is a despicable person who cares nothing about the hard-working people of the state who are struggling to make ends meet. He only cares about the wealthy. May he burn in Hell.
Tom Bryson
8:52AM JUN 18TH 2014
When this or any political contest is turned into a battle of negatives as in Crist V Scott, the outcome is determined by the two GOTV efforts. Crist has a real disadvantage here. Republicans vote, and enmity toward Crist will encourage turnout for Scott.. Democrats have a poor record of voting in off year elections and are rightly skeptical of the Crist epiphany. Additionally there are 1.1 million presumably Democratic votes rejecting Charlie in 2010 as well as hard feelings over Charlie's destruction of the Meek candidacy.
C Breeze
6:26AM JUN 18TH 2014
The rant of Allison Tant just can't seem to lift the mist that surrounds Charlie Crist... and the Morgans' power won't save "the Tuna's" wishful "victory hour"... (Not THIS time either Charlie !)

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