Rick Scott Beats Charlie Crist on Ethics, Catches him on Empathy

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: September 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

This week’s Tampa Bay Times poll contained plenty of bad news for Charlie Crist, outside of trailing Rick Scott, revealing why the Democrat simply isn’t living up to expectations as the general election season gets into full swing. 

Crist started his campaign with Florida voters seeing him as charming, charismatic and as somebody who cares about everyday people. Scott and his allies have been pelting Crist for months in attack ads running across Florida. But these attacks wouldn’t have had much impact if they were baseless. Crist has only himself to blame for his evaporating big lead over Scott in the polls.

Scott’s team has never bothered to hide the basic strategy of their campaign. Instead of trying to leapfrog ahead of Crist, they decided to drag the Democrat back to where Scott was with a flurry of attack ads.

The Tampa Bay Times poll indicates this plan is working so far. Scott is doing better than Crist in some key areas, including those which were supposed to be in the Democrat’s wheelhouse.

Crist has made much of Columbia/HCA’s legal problems under Scott’s watch, even promising to talk about them as much as he can. But, according to the poll, Scott is seen as more trustworthy than Crist. Asked if Scott can be trusted, 44 percent said yes and 45 percent said no. When the question was asked about Crist, only 37 percent said yes and 53 percent said no.

Scott also beats out Crist as being seen as more honest and ethical. Asked if Scott is honest and ethical, 39 percent said yes and 51 percent said no. Crist does worse with 35 percent saying yes and 53 percent saying no.

Crist is also seen as less of a leader than Scott, with 47 percent saying the Democrat is one and 46 percent saying he isn’t. Scott is seen as a leader by 53 percent though 40 percent don’t think he is.

But where Crist should really be concerned is Scott closing in on him on over who is seen as more empathetic. The charismatic Crist should be destroying Scott, a rich businessman who often presents an awkward public persona. Instead, 46 percent say Crist understands their problems while 45 percent think he doesn’t. That isn’t that far off where Scott is, since 44 percent say the governor understands their problems while 47 percent say he doesn’t.

Crist is now behind Scott on ethics and barely ahead of him in empathy, a far cry from the start of the campaign when the Democrat was lapping the governor on both fronts and, not coincidentally, ahead of him in the polls by large margins. To be sure, Scott’s many attack ads helped turn things around.

But Crist’s record has also undermined his lead. Having run for a decade as a conservative Republican, after facing his first loss in years Crist left the GOP during his Senate bid to run with no party affiliation. Two years later, Crist joined the Democrats and is now playing up his liberal positions. No wonder Floridians now think he is less trustworthy than Scott.

Crist’s constant campaigns for different offices haven’t helped either: Senate in 1998 and 2010, education commissioner in 2000, attorney general in 2002, governor in 2006 and now 2014. Not once did Crist bother to seek a second term, making him the first governor to forgo running for a second term since the Florida Constitution was changed back in 1968. This -- and the fact he ran for the Senate instead of a second term while Florida saw its worst economy in decades -- makes Crist look more concerned about his own ambitions than helping average Floridians.

Scott’s attacks have drawn blood but Crist put himself in this position. With two months to go, Crist’s numbers are dropping. He has to turn things around or else he will lose this election, something that seemed unfathomable a year ago.

Tallahassee based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (13)

Flip Flopper
10:22AM SEP 9TH 2014
Crist has more political flip-flops than flip-flops seen at a Cocoa Beach surf contest.
What Scott Ethics??????? He's been a Bush whacker for decad
4:33PM SEP 4TH 2014
Old Tampa Florida born mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. was run out of Havana, Cuba by Fidel Castro in January 1959 along with the rest of his mob, one of which was Miguel Recarey, Jr.

Trafficante is said to have financed Recarey’s venture into International Medical Centers.

By 1984 Recarey was having problems with his Medicare percentages and recruited Jeb Bush to help solve those problems. Jeb called both HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler and a top aide, C. McLain Haddow and successfully convinced them to waive the regulation for Recarey, Haddow testified to Congress. Bush’s lobbying of HHS took place during the same period that top-level Congressional testimony proves Jeb made calls to Washington DC and the Medicare funds flowed.

In July 1987 Recarey was indicted for Medicare Fraud and other federal crimes and fled the country. Federal regulators accused Recarey of the largest Medicare Fraud in US history!
Recarey resigned from IMC and was immediately replaced by John Ward. (Ward had been law partner to Reagan-Bush campaign manager John Sears. And Sears had also been a lobbyist for IMC.) But Recarey's Medicare scam would never get to a public courtroom airing. Before his trial on the wiretap charge, Recarey skipped the country. His getaway was remarkable: just in time for his flight, the normally tight-fisted IRS expedited a $2.2 million income-tax refund, which Recarey claimed he had coming. Recarey's last act before becoming a fugitive was an attempt to wire $30,000 into the bank account of Washington consultant and lobbyist Nick Panuzio -- whose partner was then managing George HW Bush's 1988 presidential campaign. (The wire transfer failed only because, in his haste, Recarey had gotten Panuzio's account number wrong.) It was only after Recarey was safely out of the country that the U.S. attorney in Miami -- a political appointee -- filed formal charges of Medicare fraud against him.

In October 1987 Jeb Bush with the help of his brother George W. Bush contacted investor Richard Rainwater to put together investors to take over the former assets of International Medical Centers of which most had been sold by state regulators to Humana, Inc. along with $30 million in monthly Medicare income payments - Humana an insurance company rolled it’s newly acquired IMC hospital assets into a new corporation called Galen Hospitals, Inc.

Rainwater’s team was in Miami forming corporations and acquiring hospital assets - among others Rainwater brought along Dallas Lawyer Richard (Rick) Lynn Scott, Johnson and Swanson Law Firm and former partner with George W. Bush, Tom Hicks, Rusty Rose and Rainwater in the Texas Rangers buy out. Soon they settled on the corporate name of Columbia Hospital for their new acquisitions. Scott pulled off his first megadeal: the $3.2 billion acquisition of Galen Health Care, formerly the hospital arm of Humana Inc. on August 16, 1988 along with all those millions of monthly Medicare funds that come with the deal.

Richard Rainwater, best known for his leveraged takeover of Disney in 1984 and his hiring of Michael Eisner to run the Disney empire who later purchased Eisner’s former employer ABC along with other media groups making Eisner the single most powerful media control person in the world.

As Rick Scott and investors grew Columbia he was eventually contacted by Dr Tommy Frist – Nashville for-profit HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) CEO with a merger offer. HCA was started by Frist’s father (co-founder of KFC with Colonel Harlan Sanders) who was also the father of Tennessee US Senator Bill Frist who supported George W. Bush’s nominee John Roberts for Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court who controls US security and appoints NSA Judges for life!
One member from the Columbia side of the Columbia/ HCA corporate marriage: T. Michael Long, was partner at investment banker Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
NOTE: In 1919, George Herbert Walker [Grandfather of George Herbert Walker Bush (41) organized W.A. Harriman & Co which merged with the British Brown Brothers in 1931 Prescott Bush [father of Bush (41)] was an officer of the W.A. Harriman bank since 1926, and was a director of the Union Banking Corp from 1934 through 1943.
HCA had agreed to the same kind of deal as Galen had: a "pooling of interests" merger. Finalized February 10, 1994, the deal produced a $10 billion giant. It was Scott's dream: "I had picked the name Columbia because it sounded good in front of HCA." Three months later, Scott announced another billion-dollar merger, this one with Medical Care America (MCA), the country's largest chain of outpatient surgicenters, with 96 sites.
That merger was completed on September 16, 1994. Three weeks later Scott announced the most recent merger. HealthTrust Inc. - The Hospital Company, with its 116 hospitals and $5 billion price tag, would join Columbia/HCA, in a deal that both sides expect to complete in the first quarter of 1995. This brought the other big chunk of what had been HCA - the smaller, more rural hospitals - into the Columbia fold.
With the continued positive results of the 1984 Jeb Bush phone calls to the HHS supervisors on behalf of the former IMC from 1987 until 1997 – Columbia/ HCA was the [filtered word] that laid the golden Egg.

By 1997 their Medicare schemes was once again breathing down their necks. In 1995 Rick Scott had taken the Fifth – 75 times to avoid criminal prosecution himself in what federal regulators was now calling -Columbia/ HCA- the largest Medicare Fraud to date in US history.

March 1997, federal agents raided Columbia offices in El Paso and carted out documents by the truckload, Frist met privately with Scott and urged him to adopt a more statesmanlike stance. Scott listened, but did he hear? Publicly, anyway, the CEO has not conceded that he needs to modify either the substance or style of his approach. "There are certain things beyond your control," Scott told BUSINESS WEEK in a June interview. "But what I like about this industry is that if we do a good job of taking care of patients, things will work out."
February 1997, Rainwater reaffirmed his faith in Scott and Columbia's prospects in an interview with BUSINESS WEEK. "As far as I'm concerned," said Rainwater, who still owns 9.8 million shares of Columbia stock to Scott's 9.4 million, "Rick will lead the company forever, or until he wants to step down." But on Monday, July 21, 1997 - Rainwater suddenly backpedaled from his unconditional embrace of the status quo, saying only that significant developments were imminent.
Almost immediately, reports surfaced that Columbia was talking to Tenet Healthcare Corp. about a merger. Both companies declined to comment on the reports. Tenet, the industry's second-largest company, is roughly a quarter of Columbia's size. Its CEO, Jeffrey C. Barbakow, guided the company through its own Medicare scandal four years ago when he forged a settlement of massive fraud charges for $380 million. Many in Washington and in the industry believe prosecutors won't let the next violator off with just a fine, but will seek jail terms. The rumors gave a lift to Columbia's battered stock, which had fallen as low as $32.as investors fled.
May 9, 2007 - Tenet Healthcare Corp announces it is placing John Ellis (JEB) Bush on it’s board of directors-

This is the same Tenet that had to pay $900 million to Uncle Sam last summer (2006) to settle charges that it had overbilled Medicare and Medicaid over many years.

The U.S. attorneys announcing the settlement accused the company of "fraud" and trying to "manipulate and cheat the system.". It's also the same Tenet that just paid $80 million to the IRS after an audit found it owed back taxes going back as far as 1995. The company recently had to restate nearly five years of earnings statements after an investigation into its books. As of the 2014 corporate filing Jeb Bush is the only director; Paul A. Castanon is the secretary and Trevor Fetter is the president – they all have an address of 1445 Ross Ave Ste 1400 - Dallas, Tx 75202. So, it is fair to say that Jeb Bush controls the Tenet Healthcare Corp, lock, stock and barrel.

In fact if you follow the corporate records and follow the players put in place from time to time to protect the Bush family interests you will see Jeb Bush and his partnership with Cuban exiled mobster Miguel Recarey, Jr. with financial support from Tampa born mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. (who was run out of Cuba by Fidel Castro) instigated and enhanced the International Medical Centers Medicare Fraud using his Washington DC connections at the time his father Bush (41) was vice president under Reagan. In 1987 as a disgruntled federal HHS employee who had been documenting their Medicare Fraud for years with the help of a couple of congressmen and the Miami office federal organized crime unit was able to shed the light of day on this massive scheme. To rescue their massive fraud scheme in late 1987 Jeb and brother George W. Bush recruited their Dallas, Texas investor friends headed by Richard Rainwater who had already been successful in overtaking Disney and installing Michael Eisner as CEO and who had headed up George W’s investor group including Rick Scott in the Texas Ranger’s buy out.

Their hospital scheme began with IMC, was shifted to Humana, Inc by Bush controlled state Regulators. Humana packaged it into Galen Hospitals, Richard’s Rainwater and Scott picked up Galen and rolled it into Columbia. Along come the Frist brothers Tommy and Bill and added their HCA to the scheme. Then when Columbia/ HCA crumbled under the largest Medicare Fraud scheme in US history, they rolled Columbia/ HCA into the Tenet Healthcare Corporation. Then after Jeb Bush left the governor’s office he took over control of Tenet Healthcare. In 2010 Jeb’s old hospital scheme partner Rick Scott took $70 million dollars he acquired from Medicare Fraud and used it to buy the governor’s office where he works for the people for 12 cents per year.
3:03PM SEP 4TH 2014
These idiots do know that Crist is a former governor of their state? What don't they remember about him?
12:15PM SEP 4TH 2014
Remember the huge lead Alex Sink had over David Jolly in the CD 13 race? And we know that Charlie has already lost one race in which he had an even larger lead over his opponent. Charlie is an empty suit.
11:45AM SEP 4TH 2014
I agree with Andrew and FloridaGator.
I would like to see people wake up and break free of the left/right paradigm. The 2 parties have merged into one many years ago and they want you to keep thinking you have a choice, when you don't.
Stop voting for these criminals. Luckily Floridians have an alternative this time and we need to take advantage of this opportunity. Vote for Adrian Wyllie and do what you can to support his campaign. I personally think his super brochure program is very powerful.
The Swampfox
11:44AM SEP 4TH 2014
God Bless America!
The Swampfox
11:42AM SEP 4TH 2014
As in the words of "Jeremiah Wright" you know the radical minister who was quoted as saying "God damn America" with close ties Barrack Hussein Obama, the guy that Charlie supported his failed health care plan aka. Obama Care? For Charlie Crist..... "the chickens are coming home to roost."
11:04AM SEP 4TH 2014
If Crist is your candidate & he loses this election, he is a professional candidate. He runs in every election for something. Maybe he will run for dogcatcher next time, an office he might can handle.
8:39AM SEP 4TH 2014
Rick Scott, A PROVEN FRAUD, is winning these polls? Florida never ceases to amaze me......
8:38AM SEP 4TH 2014
Rick Scott, A PROVEN FRAUD, is winning these polls? Florida never ceases to amaze me......
Kathleen McCook
7:18AM SEP 4TH 2014
Treatment of Democratic candidate NAN RICH and her supporters (over 200,000) has also been contributory. Crist never debated NAN RICH and failed to engage on issues. Primary voters are important to the results and leaving 200,000 with no engagement or even follow-up after the primary demonstrate a poor strategy. As a Nan Rich supporter I have been told "get over it." Not a way to ensure realignment at the ballot box.
6:37AM SEP 4TH 2014
There will never be less government it is too lucrative especially for the GOP . How much taxpayer money funneled towards businesses thru legislation. Look at our Public School System and our Prison system as example. They are both up for sale to anyone that wants them. Next will be the police and firefighters.
Andrew Nappi
6:27AM SEP 4TH 2014
Losing to Rick Scott on ethics is about as low as one can go. Looks like Scott is winning the "I am not as big a sleaze as my opponent" campaign. Still, the choice they offer voters is merely one of Pile A of used oats vs Pile B. I'll stick with Adrian Wyllie and his old fashioned ideas of less government, lower taxes,honesty,integrity and no cronies.

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