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July 2014

Debate War begins Crist 7 Scott 3

You can't have an election without a debate war. One side claiming it will debate "anytime, anywhere, anyplace," and the other - unusally the incumbent - pushing for fewer debates.

Our morning begins with a pronouncement from Florida Governor Rick Scott that he has decided to accept three debates - with the Democratic primary winner, Charlie Crist or Nan Rich.

Let us pause for a minute. It is awfully cute of the Scott campaign to offer to debate Nan Rich. Of course they do not for a second believe that Rich is going to win the Democratic nomination which is why they have spent tens-of-millions on television ads hammering Crist and not a dime on Rich.

Scott's announcement includes this tidbit:  He urges both candidates to agree to these debates now, so that proper planning and scheduling can take place . . .

How thoughtful.

Scott said he will participate in three debates: WSCV Telemundo 51, October 10; Leadership Florida, October 15; and CNN, October 21. Each would be televised statewide.

Not so fast says the Crist campaign which quickly responded with a statement saying Crist has accepted seven debates. In a statement, Crist said: “Rick Scott limiting debates to three is a disservice to voters, but not surprising considering his history of refusing to answer questions to avoid going to jail."


Crist said he has accepted these debates:

Tampa Bay Times with CBS Affiliates
NBC Affiliates (by WESH)
Statewide Public Radio (by the Tampa Tribune)
Leadership Florida

The Tampa Bay Times put particular note on the fact that Scott is apparently snubbing its plans for a debate. It not likely that Scott will change his mind about the Times which has slammed him on its editorial pages.

Will there be more than 3 debates? Not likely but time will tell.

New ad from Florida GOP again blames Crist for recession

One thing you can say about Governor Rick Scott - when it comes to Florida's economy he is not shy about giving himself credit for the state's job growth.

And, the fact is that Scott has largely kept the pledge he made four years ago to focus on adding jobs and boosting Florida's economy. There has been considerable success and Scott deserves some of the credit. 

Of course, forces outside of Scott's control also have played a major role in Florida's economic growth - just as forces outside of Florida Governor Charlie Crist's control led to the state's economic collapse. No one can rightly blame Crist for the Great Recession.

Still, Crist can be blamed for being too politically ambitious - more interested in becoming Sen. John McCain's running mate or a U.S. Senator - than doing the gritty work of governing.

Here's the latest GOP ad blaming Crist for the economic downfall and giving Scott a tad too much credit.


Florida Democrats launch release the deposition website

UPDATE: Florida GOP responds: “Charlie Crist’s campaign of constant distraction and mudslinging is an attempt to hide his own problems with ethics and transparency. Crist is drumming up old, failed attacks because he doesn’t want to talk about the 38 days it’s been since he refused to release his and his spouse’s tax returns, and the 179 days it’s been since he refused to debate Nan Rich.” –Susan Hepworth, RPOF Communications Director

Florida Democrats have created a "Release the Deposition" website demanding that Governor Rick Scott provide a public copy of the 2010 deposition involving a lawsuit claiming Solantic, a healthcare company in which he was founder, had committed fraud.

The website features a quote from then Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul, a Republican, stating: "I request you release all documents related to the multiple concerning lawsuits against your company, Solantic, which is now surrounded by allegations of fraud, criminal activity and discrimination."

A countdown clock shows that it has been 1,566 days since Scott refused to release a copy of deposition. 

Release the Deposition also includes a video that uses images not from 2010 but apparently from a much earlier deposition taken in an unrelated lawsuit involving the national hospital Columbia/HCA.

Scrolling across the images, the video text says: "In 2010, Rick Scott's healthcare company Solantic was sued for fraud. Six days before he announced his campaign for governor, he was deposed under oath."

Next you hear the voice of Miami Herald report Marc Caputo asking Scott, "Will you release the deposition?"

Scott replies: "It's a private matter and I will not release the deposition."

The image switches back to Scott's earlier deposition and the text says: "What is he hiding? Release the deposition Governor."

The ad is paid for by the Florida Democratic Party.

Scott sold his interest in the company in 2011 after suggestions that he was pushing legislation that would help Solantic. More on that controversy here.

Newsmax reporting about Republican concerns about Solantic included this:

10 Republican lawmakers in Florida — nine members of the state House and one state senator — sent a letter to Scott stating: “Recently, it has come to our attention that just six days before you announced your candidacy for governor, you were deposed over allegations amounting to criminal and fraudulent activity at Solantic, a company you founded and operate. Instead of being forthcoming about your role in the case, it appears you worked behind the scenes to prevent this deposition from reaching the public view.

“As state legislators with an interest in building on our party’s success over the past 12 years, we are concerned your refusal to be upfront with the public in this case could severely jeopardize your chances of becoming governor should you win the Republican gubernatorial primary.

“We ask that you release your deposition and all documents related to and concerning lawsuits against Solantic in order to provide the transparency the public wants and deserves.

“If you remain unwilling to release these materials and answer questions on these issues, we believe you should immediately withdraw from the race for the good of our party and the conservative cause in Florida.”

Read the Newsmax story here.

Will any of this help Democrat Charlie Crist? Scott did manage to overcome the issue in his GOP primary race with Bill McCollum. And he narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Alex Sink. 

Can it work this time?

Now the video:


Rick Scott ad accuses his opponent of copying Scott

This being Throwback Thurday, Crowley Political Report offers you a look back at the 2010 Florida Republican Party gubernatorial primary.

It was one of the most fascinating political events in Florida history. The establishment ordained candidate - Bill McCollum, suddenly faced an onslaught from an a little known businessman who had never before run for office.

What Rick Scott did have was the more than $70 million of his own cash that he was willing to spend to move into the governor's mansion. 

Here's a look back. 

In this ad - Scott's Let's Get to Work committee accused McCollum of flip-flopping on issues such as immigration. At the time, Scott was a hard-core supporter of a controversial Arizona immigration law allowing police to demand immigration papers from anyone at anytime with little reason to ask.  

In this next ad, Scott, who uses his personal jet to fly around Florida, accused McCollum of using state planes for private use.  

Continue reading "Rick Scott ad accuses his opponent of copying Scott" »

New Charlie Crist ad focuses on education as new Q-Poll drops

As a new Quinnipiac poll hits today Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist unveiled this new ad: 


And now here's the new Quinnipiac Poll. Complete poll results are at the end of the news release from Quinnipiac.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott trails former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, by a narrow 45 - 40 percent margin in a two-way race. When Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added to the mix, the race is too close to call, with 39 percent for Crist, 37 percent for Scott and 9 percent for Wyllie, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

This compares to a 48 - 38 percent Crist lead in a head-to-head matchup without Wyllie in an April 30 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. 

Today, Scott leads former State Sen. Nan Rich 41 - 34 percent in a two-way race. Wyllie gets his strongest support from independent voters who back Crist over Scott 45 - 38 percent in a two-way matchup, but split with 36 percent for Crist and 34 percent for Scott, with 12 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way race. Republicans back Scott 79 - 12 percent in the two-way, and 74 - 9 percent, with 5 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way. Democrats go from 78 - 10 percent for Crist in the two- way to 73 - 9 percent, with 6 percent for Wyllie. 

Florida voters give Scott a negative 43 - 48 percent approval rating, one of his best scores in almost four years in office, and a negative 40 - 45 percent favorability rating. Crist gets a split rating, 40 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable. For Wyllie, 92 percent don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

 "The campaign to be Florida's next governor tightens slightly and takes on a new dimension with a third candidate in the running," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not, at this point, a serious contender to win the governorship. But he may have a great deal to say about who does win." 

"Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who aren't keen on either of the major party candidates, Gov. Rick Scott or former Gov. Charlie Christ," Brown added. Gov. Scott does not deserve to be reelected, Florida voters say 51 - 40 percent. Both candidates get low grades for character:

  • Voters say 51 - 40 percent that Scott is not honest and trustworthy, and say 48 - 39 percent that Crist is not honest and trustworthy;
  • Scott doesn't care about their needs and problems, voters say 52 - 41 percent, and Crist doesn't care, voters say by a slim 47 - 44 percent;
  • Scott has strong leadership qualities, voters say 54 - 38 percent, compared to 49 - 43 percent for Crist.

Florida voters say 48 - 36 percent that Crist is more compassionate than Scott. There is only a small gender gap on this question.

Voters are divided on Crist's party change, from Republican to independent to Democrat, as 47 percent say it's a positive thing and 45 percent say it's negative, compared to a 52 - 40 percent positive score April 30.

"Scott and Crist have been saturating the airwaves with negative ads about each other. An old campaign maxim holds that you can't throw mud without getting dirty yourself and that seems to be what's happening here," Brown said. "Because Wyllie is so unknown and presumably unable to compete in the air war at this point, how he does may be a function of how unhappy voters are with the major party choices."

 From July 17 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,251 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research. 

Continue reading "New Charlie Crist ad focuses on education as new Q-Poll drops" »

Florida Governor Rick Scott is on HBO

One of the funniest new programs on HBO is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Apparently the program picked up on item, that was also featured on Crowley Political Report, from a Mother Jones story about Republican Governor Rick Scott having a fundraiser tonight at the home of Geo Group CEO George Zoley. 

We'll let John Oliver take  it from here.

 Read more about the event here and here.

Follow Crowley Political Report on Twitter: @CrowleyReport

This Rick Scott fundraiser could become a problem

Last year, students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University loudly protested when its football stadium was going to be named after the GEO Group. The Boca Raton prison company was willing to pay $6 million for the naming rights.

Protesters slammed the decision because of reports of poor treatment of prisoners - many of whom are immigrants - at some of the company's prisons. GEO pulled out of the deal after getting hammered.

Even Stephen Colbert weighed in:


Now, Mother Jones is reporting that Scott's campaign is having a $10,000 per-person fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of GEO chairman George Zoley. Mother Jones describes Zoley as "the CEO of a private prison company that's profiting handsomely over the immigration crisis at the Mexican border."

The report continues: 

Among the 98 facilities the company owns or manages are several detention centers for undocumented immigrants run through contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. One of those is a facility in Broward County, Florida, that's been the site of at least one hunger strike and protests over allegedly poor treatment of the 700 immigrants held there, most of whom have no serious criminal histories.

In 2012, members of Congress demanded that ICE investigate the Broward facility after reports the center was holding people who should have been released and that it was not providing adequate medical care to the detainees. An investigation last year by Americans for Immigrant Justice also found credible reports of detainees suffering food poisoning from being served rotten food. The group noted instances of sexual assault among detainees and inadequate mental health care that may have contributed to at least three suicide attempts. Detainees also reported being forced to work for $1 a day and to pay $3 a minute for phone calls.

The Geo Group, which rakes in $1.5 billion in annual revenue, earns $20 million annually just from the Florida center.

Read the complete Mother Jones  story here.

One suspects it is not going to take long for Scott's Democrat rival, former Governor Charlie Crist, to start attacking Scott for this fundraiser.


Rick Scott has some tough questions coming in the next few days

This week has not been a good one for the campaign of Republican Governor Rick Scott. He became comic relief for a number of national television media who discovered what Florida reporters have known for several years - Scott just cannot answer questions.

While the national media was giving Scott grief, Tampa Fox 13 skewered Scott's history of dodging questions and fudging facts. Fox's report is below and it is well worth watching.

Now, Scott is about to get hit with a new set of questions that he simply can't afford to dodge. 

Let's begin with gay marriage. On Thursday a Monroe County judge ruled that two gay men can legally marry. That decision is now pending an appeal by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Scott is certain to face questions about the ruling which, if eventually successful, could overturn a Florida constitutional amendment declaring that marriage in the Sunshine State can only be between a man and a woman.

Scott spokesman John Tupps said: "Governor Scott supports traditional marriage, consistent with the amendment approved by Florida voters in 2008, but does not believe that anyone should be discriminated against for any reason."

Dear Mr. Tupps - that statement is not going to hold up under close questioning. It would seem difficult to both support the anti-gay marriage amend and oppose discrimination "for any reason."

So the governor is going to need a better answer. 

Scott is also going to have to deal with new questions from Florida scientists about climate change. They want a meeting with Scott - he has offered them his staff. His  Democratic rival, Charlie Crist has offered to meet with the scientists.

Scott  will need share his thoughts about Crist's new running mate - Annette Taddeo.

And, he will continue to be pressed on whether he supports increasing the minimum wage, All Aboard Florida, immigration reform and other issues.

While Scott and his team may think it is damn clever to give the governor a 10 second sound bite and have him repeat it over and over as if he is incapable of independent thought - the idea is clearly not working.

What you get instead is an image suggesting Scott is so afraid of saying the wrong thing that he becomes trapped by his own soundbite. This is not something that instills faith in his leadership or makes Floridians feel warm about him.

The solution is simple. Sure, have a couple of talking points but also be willing to just have a conversation. 

After all, it may be the media that you clearly loathe standing in front of you - but it TV audiences who are seeing and hearing you.

Or, Scott can keep doing this: 


Scott art by Brian J. Crowley. Copyright Crowley Political Report.

Rick Scott and Star Trek

Star Trek Norman computer
Sometimes you wonder if Florida Governor Rick Scott believes he will self-destruct if he acutually answers a question that is asked of him. Perhaps, as a kid, Scott was haunted by an early episode of the Star Trek series.

Captian Kirk was trying to defeat a human-looking computer named "Norman" by confusing it.

 KIRK: "Everything Harry Mudd tells you is a lie. Remember that! Everything Mudd  tells you is a lie!"

MUDD: "Now listen to this carefully, Norman: I AM LYING!"

NORMAN: "You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie then you are telling the truth, but you cannot tell the truth because everything you say is a lie, but... you lie, you tell the truth, but you cannot for you ... Illogical! Illogical! Please explain! You are Human! Only Humans can explain their behavior! Please explain!"

Norman than blows all his circuits.

One can picture young Rick sitting in front of his black and white television vowing that he will never be trapped like that computer.

It may be the most generous explanation for why Scott seems so deeply unwilling to answer most questions directly. He is clearly terrified that a direct answer to a question could cause him to self destruct just like Norman.

The only problem is that Scott is not a computer and he risks self-destruction from his non-answers. It has gotten so bad that his lastest series of non-answer, answers were featured on CNN Ridculist. 

Scott was asked about the presence of uniformed Hillsoborough County sheriff's deputies at a  Scott campaign event last week. Florida law forbids on-duty, uniform wearing cops from being at campaign events. Some officers apparently believed they were at an official function for the governor and not a campaign event.

The video below shows how Scott danced away from questions about the event in a way that made him look - well, ridiculous. Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times compared Scott to SIRI.

Video of Scott's performance was already making the rounds, pushed cheerfully by Florida Democats and the Charlie Crist campaign, before CNN's Anderson Cooper made it a national story. 

Scott could have done himself a world of good had he answered the question about the deputies this way:

 If there was a misunderstanding that caused some officers not to know that it was campaign event, I apologize. I am deeply appreciative of the amazing support I have received from law enforcement, they do tremendous, good work for the citizens of Florida, and I promise them that I will continue to be stong supporter of law enforcement as the governor of this great state.

Instead, Scott did this:


Another day, another negative campaign ad

Florida Governor Rick Scott's campaign is relentless in its attacks on Democrat Charlie Crist. And with the polls suggesting the race is a toss-up it appears the effort is working.

So here is the latest campaign video from the Scott folks otherwise known as the Republican Party of Florida.


Charlie Crist featured in SEIU video

One thing about watching Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for governor has a natural rapport with the folks he meets. So when he met with the Service Employee International Union in Miami, he appears at ease working beside them. 

Republican Governor Rick Scott certainly tries to connect with people but he always seems a tad uncomfortable.

Of course it is not surprising that Crist would have the support of SEIU.

Here is the video:


Did Charlie Crist fudge his financial disclosure report

Ethics complaints have become a staple of Florida politics so it is not surprising that Sarasota County GOP chairman Joe Gruters has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist.

Gruter is accusing Crist of not filing a "full and public disclosure" of his financial interests as required by state law. Gruter seems concerned that Crist has told the media he rents a condo and St. Petersburg and leases a Jeep Cherokee while not specificly revealing these items on his disclosure form. 

The complaint also questions income Crist received from the St. Joe Company as a member of its board and as a consultant. Gruter also wonders about potential sources of income for Charlie Crist LLC.

Of course Gruter is not acting as a concerned citizen here. His complaint was distributed by the Republican Party of Florida whose full time job is the reelection of Governor Rick Scott.

Still, financial disclosure is fair game. If Crist was sloppy or deliberately misleading, it would be a cause for concern. 

If nothing else, it is another day where Scott's campaign is trying to make the daily story about Crist mishaps - and so far Scott's team is keeping Crist on the ropes. 

Read the complaint here: Download Crist complaint

Florida Republicans fire back at Charlie Crist

Once advantage of having more money than you know what to do with, is the ability to quickly respond to your political opponents. The Florida Republican Party, otherwise known at the reelection campaign of Governor Rick Scott is demonstrating the kind of grief it can cause Democrat Charlie Crist with a new rapid response ad challenging Crist's first political ad as a candidate for governor.

Crowley Political Report does not know how much Crist is spending for ad time - probably not much - but with tens-of-millions at its disposal, the Scott/GOP campaign can out-buy Crist and bury his message.

If Democrats believe they need a Democratic governor in Tallahassee to help them in the 2016 presidential campaign, party supporters are going to have to start committing a lot of money and resources to help Crist out. 

Crist has taken a beating over the last six months as Scott's team has exhausted the airwaves with countless Crist bashing ads. Polls suggest the race is close. 

Here's the latest ad:

 Follow Crowley Political Report on Twitter: @crowleyreport

Rick Scott campaign chairman John Thrasher responds to Charlie Crist campaign ad

Democrat Charlie Crist put up is first campaign television ad today and, not surprisingly, Governor Rick Scott's campaign is reacting quickly.

Here is a statement from the Scott campaign:

Rick Scott for Florida Campaign Chairman John Thrasher made the following statement in response to Charlie Crist’s first television ad:

"It's fitting that Charlie Crist's first campaign ad is called 'Sunshine' because he only wants to be around during good times. When times were tough here, Charlie instituted tax increases and teacher layoffs. Then he ran away. We need four more years of Governor Scott's steadfast leadership and job creation. The sun has set on Good Time Charlie's time in elected office."

Charlie Crist finally on TV with his first campaign ad

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist is on the air. His first television ad as a Democratic candidate for governor is up after months of ads blasting Crist coming from incumbent Repubican Governor Rick Scott and the Florida GOP.

Crist's first effort is fairly tame. He talks about raising the mimimun wage and demanding equal pay for women. 

Oh, and the sun sets.


If you want tax records of Charlie Crist's wife this is the man to ask

Florida Republicans have a top inside sources who can provide them with Carole Rome's tax returns. Perhaps all they have to do is ask. We'll get to that in a moment.

Several newspapers editorials as well as the campaign of Florida Governor Rick Scott are demanding that former Governor Charlie Crist provide copies of his wife's tax returns. Crist has declined. He says his spouse personal finances are no one's business since she is not the candidate.

The demand for disclosure is complicated. Florida's financial disclosure laws do not require candidate spouses to provide information about their personal finances. Good government would seem to suggest the information would be nice to have to provide voters with information about potential conflicts of interest.

Since Scott seems to believe spousal information is vital to Florida interests, he should immediately propose legislation that requires all candidates and public office holders to release 10 years of tax returns of their spouses.

Many Republicans have been demanding to see Rome's returns so this legislation should pass easily in the Republican controlled House and Senate. Perhaps Scott should call a special session to get the legislation passed in July. There is nothing better than summer in Tallahassee. 

Republicans care so deeply about this issue that the Florida Republican Party last week hired a plane to fly a banner over the Florida Democratic Party gala asking why Crist is "hiding" his wife's tax returns. The GOP has even created a website CharliesTaxReturnscomplete with countdown clock.

So Let's Get To Work in demanding that all spouses of public officials and candidates release their tax returns. The GOP could set the example by immediately releasing those records for all statewide office holders, as well as the Senate President and House Speaker. 

Only then will Republicans be able to say this about spousal tax returns - It's Working.

Meanwhile, Republicans should ask their good friends Senator John McCain and former Senator George LeMieux. When McCain considered Crist for his running mate, Crist was required to submit financial information and tax returns for his wife. 

LeMieux was an integral part of preparing and submitting that information. He has been more than willing to trash his former friend - you know the guy who named him a U.S. Senator - whenever the GOP has required him to go on the attack. So perhaps he could shed light on Rome's finances.

After all - it would be for the public's right to know.

Follow Crowley Political Report on Twitter: @CrowleyReport 

Art by Patrick Crowley

Rick Scott is under the dome and Charlie Crist is in jeopardy


We know that Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Republican Party have already spent a small fortune on television ads but then we wondered - where has all the money gone?

Last night was the season premiere of CBS's Under the Dome - based on the novel by Stephen King. It was also home to a campaign ad by Scott's Let's Get to Work committee. The ad was one of 57 spots set to air this week on Tampa Bay televsion station WTSP at a cost of about $50,000.

Scott's ads will be seen on Jeopardy, Price is Right, Let's Make a Deal, Wheel of Fortune, Dr. Phil, Inside Edition, and during WTSP's local news. Scott is also putting ads on David Letterman.

Similar ad buys are appearing in other Florida television markets. One thing is clear from the programs featuring these ads - this is not a big push for the youth vote.

Same thing can be said about Scott's Democratic opponent - former Governor Charlie Crist. The Florida Democratic Party is spending about $158,000 on WTSP during the next three weeks, from June 30 to July 21.

Democrats are on all of the same programs that Scott's campaign is on. In addition, Democratic ads will appear on Young and the Restless, The Talk, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, Face the Nation, 60 Minutes, and NCIS Los Angeles.

In the Palm Beach/Treasure Coast market, televsions stations WPBF and WPEC are already benefiting from ad buys for October and November. The Democratic House Majority PAC has booked 174 spots on WPBF and 180 spots on WPEC for  a combined $317,000. 

The House Majority PAC clearly has an interest in helping U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy win a second term. There are six Republicans running for the GOP nomination in District 18.

HMPAC has purchased ad time during Dr. Oz, The Chew, Access Hollywood, Jimmy Kimmel, The View, Nightline, General Hospital, Good Morning America, Castle, and Nashville.


Scott's campaign has said it plans to spend $100 million to win Scott a second term. Crist may spend about $50 million (although he still has long way to go to hit that number). Tens of millions more will be spent by outside groups trying to influence Florida voters.

There is only so much as time. Before all is said and done, there will be very few programs that are not jammed with political ads.

Maybe Stephen King will write a novel about the horror of Florida campaign ads.

Follow Crowley Political Report on Twitter: @CrowleyReport