Rick Scott

First Amendment Foundation calls for special prosecutor

Fallingcocofinc
Florida Governor Rick Scott and the members of state Cabinet - each independently elected - are being urged to have a special prosecutor look at the firing of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Scott had ducked, dodged and finally sort of admitted the firing could have been handled better. The Cabinet members are shocked, simply shocked, that they may have been misled.

Bottom line, Scott has a long, proud history of ignoring public records and public meetings requirements and seems more than happy to continue to walk the edges of Florida's Sunshine Law.

The Sunshine Law is not about the media - it's about a Florida's citizen's right to know that our government is doing.

Below is a letter release by the First Amendment Foundation today. (Note: Brian Crowley is a member of the Foundation's board of trustees).

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR SCOTT

AND

THE MEMBERS OF FLORIDA'S CABINET

 We are writing today to express our deep concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the firing of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey and the hiring of his replacement, Rick Swearingen.  

There is intense public interest regarding this matter and we think it imperative that an independent investigation be conducted to address the serious constitutional issues related to Mr. Bailey's departure. 

The continuing controversy erodes public trust and confidence in the highest levels of our government.  Additionally, the controversy and ensuing media coverage calls into question Florida's well-deserved reputation as having the most progressive open government laws in the nation. 

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Letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi requests outside prosecutor

Today, the First Amendment Foundation sent a letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi expressing "deep concerns" about the firing of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, and requesting that a prosecutor outside Tallahassee investigate possible violations of Florida's Sunshine Law.

The letter is below. 

Note: (Brian Crowley is a member of the FAF's board of trustees).

Dear Attorney General Bondi:

As you know, the First Amendment Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated for more than three decades to preserving the public’s right to know what its government is doing. At your invitation, I write to express the Foundation’s deep concerns about the transparency issues surrounding the firing of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey and the hiring of his replacement.

You have called for an outside investigation and expressed your own concern that this State’s Sunshine Laws might have been violated in the handling of the FDLE issues. The Foundation supports the appointment of an independent State Attorney from outside Leon County to investigate this matter, to consider whether criminal charges should be brought and to issue a written report with findings.

 You recognize that there is no dispute that Cabinet meetings (outside of the clemency process) are subject to the open meeting requirements of the Florida Constitution and Chapter 286, Florida Statutes. See Art. I, §24 (b), Fla. Const.

The members of Florida’s Cabinet are long-time elected officials who are in their second terms as Cabinet members and have long understood their open meetings obligations. It has been reported that Mr. Bailey indicated that he was forced out by the Governor and told by then General Counsel Pete Antonacci that the lawyer had the “concurrence” of all three Cabinet members.

Obtaining board member concurrence through back channels operating out of the sunshine on a matter that would foreseeably come before the Cabinet is the essence of an open meetings violation. Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison, 296 So.2d 473, 477 (Fla.1974).

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Do not close those checkbooks it is time to pony up for Scott's inaugural

 

Woman drinkingThe cost of doing business in Tallahassee continues to rise as campaign spending grows to record levels and lobbyists, companies, and just plain rich folks are asked to pay for it all. Even candidates with no serious opposition asked for and got millions in contributions.

We complete the 2014 cycyle with requests to pony up money for Governor Rick Scott's inaugural. All the special interests will chip in - it's expected. And it happens every four years.

Here's the latest from the Florida Republican Party.

Republican Party of Florida Releases Inauguration Donors

TALLAHASSEE - Today the Republican Party of Florida released the first list of donors to Governor Rick Scott's inauguration activities. These activities, which included the "Jobs Jamboree" tour that highlighted Florida's job creators and the 679,000 jobs that have been created since Governor Scott took office, are paid for by contributions to the Republican Party of Florida.


 Inauguration activities continue on January 5th and 6th in Tallahassee, where Governor Scott will participate in the inaugural prayer breakfast, the official swearing-in ceremony and a small evening reception at the Governor's Mansion. First Lady Ann Scott will also honor Florida's brave military service members and their families. 


 Inauguration donors will be released weekly.

  
DATE CONTRIBUTOR   ADDRESS       AMOUNT
12/9/2014 US Sugar Corporation 111 Ponce De Leon Avenue, Clewiston FL $25,000
12/9/2014 Allstate Insurance Company 2775 Sanders Road, Northbrook IL   $5,000
12/11/2014 FCCI Services, Inc 6300 University Parkway, Sarasota, FL   $25,000
12/11/2014 Calder Race Course  21001 NW 27th Avenue, Miami, FL  $15,000
 
Sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida
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Charlie Crist campaign files emergency motion to extend voting in Broward

This just in from Charlie Crist campaign:

Update: Motion denied.

Crist for Governor Campaign Files Emergency Motion to Extend Voting Hours in Broward
 
Ft.  Lauderdale, Fla. – The Crist for Governor campaign is filing an emergency motion with the Circuit Court for the 17th Judicial Circuit to extend voting hours in Broward County from 7pm to 9pm.  The campaign is doing so due to several individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots:
 

  • The polling station located at the Croissant Park Elementary School was offline for over an hour and a half this morning – this caused major delays and impacted voters looking to cast a ballot before work.
  • EVID malfunctions in precincts throughout the county caused confusion among voters who were unable to update their address at polling precincts. Those voters were bounced between local precincts and SOE headquarters – ultimately, the system did not register them and they were unable to cast regular ballots.
  • The delay and confusion caused by those EVID malfunctions compounded county-wide confusion related to recent re-precincting. We have reports in many cases that voters who were confused about their proper polling location were provided conflicting information and, in many cases, simply gave up attempting to cast a regular ballot.

 
You can view the motion here.
 
A similar request was made to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, who denied it.


What to expect the day after the election

Family (2)
Wednesday morning will be dreadful for at least one of Florida’s candidates for governor. After a long night, either Democrat Charlie Crist or Republican Rick Scott will stare in the mirror and see a loser.  And this loser will never again succeed in politics.

It will be over.

For Crist, a loss after the quixotic twirl from Republican to independent to Democrat would be an utter and humiliating defeat. His new Democratic Party friends will quickly forget his cell phone number. Democrats will go back to fretting about who might lead the party in what will continue to look like a cloudy future for them in the Sunshine State.

For Scott, a loss would end a startlingly quick and brief career in politics. Even Jeb Bush had to play the game of being a state employee as former Governor Bob Martinez's Commerce Department secretary. And Bush had to lose a very difficult race in 1994 before defeating Democrat Buddy McKay four years later.  He is beloved by many Florida Republican and who have made him their fantasy president.

Not so Rick Scott. No one suggests that Scott is presidential material. No one looks to him to be a potential Veep. Even if Scott wins, that dynamic will not change. Scott's sudden emergence in Florida politics won him numerous friends out of necessity. If Scott loses, Republicans will abandon him as quickly as they embraced him because they had nowhere else to go.

One of these gentlemen is going to be very lonely on Wednesday.

Losing is tough.

Another group of losers will be the highly paid consultants who developed the campaign strategy, assured the candidate he could win, and blew it, in large part, because the strategy did not work. Consultants will not take the blame for a loss. Instead, they will quietly explain to friendly reporters that the plan would have worked if only the candidate could have pulled it off. They will blame the weather, who had more money, fickle voters, rain, the full moon.

But consultants really never lose. There is always the next campaign.

Should Crist win, the insular world of Tallahassee will look like the Walking Dead. Shell shocked lobbyists will worry that they did not give enough hedge-your-bet money to Crist. They will frantically reach out offering to be part of the transition team, host the inaugural, - golly Charlie, what can we do to help?

For decades a number of lobbyists in Tallahassee bragged that they learned at the feet of beloved governors LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles. They were loyal Democrats who dismissed Republicans as a mere inconvenience.

When Jeb Bush and the GOP took over Tallahassee, some of those acolytes suddenly discovered they were quite conservative after all. Expect some similar conversions (complicated by a still conservative legislature) to take place if Crist wins.

Another loser could be the Tallahassee Press Corps. If Scott wins, his loathing of the media and Press corps skits one
deep felt belief that the public has no business knowing the public's business is likely to flower.

Should Crist win, he will likely embrace the media, as he has always done, but perhaps a bit more cautiously. Access to public records should be less of a problem.

Pity the ambitious folks on Florida's Cabinet if Crist wins. For CFO Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a successful Crist term as governor could stall their ambition to become governor.

If Scott wins, he is out of governor's mansion at the end of his term creating an open seat for the Cabinet trio to salivate over. One of them might run against incumbent Crist but it's no fun running against the guy who already has the job.

Which brings us to 2016.

On Wednesday both Scott and Crist should announce they have no interest in being anyone's running mate - and really mean it. Especially Crist.

Now 2018.

If Scott wins, expect to start hearing that he will run for the U.S. Senate. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is up for reelection and some Democrats are convinced he will not run.

Even if Nelson did decide to go for a fourth term, Scott has shown he is willing to spend whatever money it takes to win.

If Crist wins, expect him to run for a second term. WORKERSCOMPfx

And finally, this prediction.

If Scott loses, he leaves Florida (I want to live closer to my grandchildren).

If Crist loses, he returns to John Morgan's law firm but the giant Morgan billboards with Crist looking down, will disappear, just like Crist.

Happy Election.

 

Art by Patrick Crowley Copyright @Crowley Political Report. All rights reserved.

 

New Charlie Crist ad tries to get back the old magic

Crist cartoon
As a Republican, Charlie Crist did a pretty good job convincing voters that he is just an ordinary guy who wakes up each day worrying about what is best for average Floridians. As governor, Crist seemed to worry more about the potential of becoming John McCain's running mate than the fate of Sunshine State.

His self-destructive run for U.S. Senate suggested Crist was starting to see something in the mirror that no one when else saw. There are still those who believe that had Crist stuck to being governor and, as many expected, won a second term, he would be in the current mix of potential candidates for GOP nomination for president.

Today, Crist finds himself running against a candidate - Republican Rick Scott - who has none of his charisma, none of his deep roots in the Sunshine State, and none of innate campaign ability.

Scott has succeeded in plummeling Crist's reputation while enhancing his own ever so slightly. Few believed a newcomer to Florida politics with a questionable corporate history could suddenly become the governor of Florida.

If Scott wins a second term, it will not just be a result of Scott's enormous spending on campaign ads. It will be in party because Crist failed in his attempt to go back to being the neighborly guy who became a state senator, education commission and attorney general.

The Crist campaign might find some solace in this long final campaign weekend in the fact that some Republicans in Tallahassee and Washington (including folks at the RGA) are, as one knowledgeable GOP insider put it still  "VERY concerned" about Rick Scott.

Polls are suggesting that this race is so close both campaigns should be "VERY concerned" about the election.

 


NRA once in love with Charlie Crist has a change of heart

The National Rifle Association's new campaign ad shows a woman alone at home and when an intruder suddenly breaks into the house. The NRA concludes that Florida Governor Rick Scott is the guy who protect her.

Not long ago, NRA was in love with Charlie Crist. 

In 2006, The NRA endorsed Crist for governor: 

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA-PVF) and Unified Sportsmen of Florida are pleased to inform you that both organizations have endorsed you for Governor of Florida in the 2006 Republican Primary.

Throughout your career as a Florida legislator and statewide office holder, you have been unwavering and have stood strong in support of law-abiding gunowners and sportsmen. Your background of legislative service demonstrates your commitment to the cause of freedom and protection of constitutional rights.

No one has been stronger in support of Second Amendment, self-defense, and anti-crime issues than Charlie Crist and we sincerely appreciate your solid pro-sportsmen, pro-Second Amendment, pro-freedom record.

Marion P. Hammer
NRA Past President
Executive Director Unified Sportsmen of Florida

While Crist was governor the NRA gave him its highest rating - A+

Hammer said this about Crist as governor:

"He has always throughout his career been a strong advocate for the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen, never voted against us, always voted with us as governor," Hammer said. "He signed every piece of legislation gun owners asked him to sign and vetoed every piece of legislation negatively impacting gun owners and sportsman that gun owners asked him to veto. He has an outstanding record of support." Read more here.

All of that makes this ad odd.


Does this ad help Rick Scott or Charlie Crist?

 In a new ad from Florida Republicans, viewers are reminded that Democrat Charlie Crist, then a Republican, said President Bill Clinton should resign from office. This ad comes on the heels of an ad by the former president praising Crist and urging Floridians to vote for Crist. 

So what's going on?

In some ways, considering the Clinton ad (see it here), this GOP ad is a bit odd. After all, clearly Bill Clinton has forgiven Crist for suggesting that Clinton resign. In fact lots of Republicans were saying that after the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Clearly this ad is an attempt to muddle the Clinton ad. But could it have the opposite effect? The Bush family loves Clinton. He and former President George H.W. Bush - whom defeated - have become dear friends.

And former President George W. Bush on Fox News yesterday said Clinton is so close to the family that he is "like a brother from another mother."

Does this ad help Rick Scott's reelection chances?

The Florida GOP titled this ad - "Then or Now"

Indeed, Clinton seems to have answered that question. 


Bill Clinton ad for Charlie Crist

Well if you have any doubt about how important the Florida Governor's race is to the 2016 presidential campaign, you can cast that doubt aside with this ad for Charlie Crist by former President Bill Clinton.

Certainly likely presidential canidate Hillary Clinton must support this ad.

Should we expect former President George W. Bush to do an ad for Rick Scott?

Not likely. 

 


Strip clubs and rape crisis centers focus of new Rick Scott and Charlie Crist ads

While these ads are clearly aimed at women voters, one wonders whether women might think these ads are bit too much. 

First, Republican Rick Scott is accusing Democrat Charlie Crist of waging a war on women because his campaign took money from a management company that - among other businesses - is involved with a strip club.

Our second ad comes from Crist accusing Scott of cutting funding to rape crisis centers. 

These ads continue the Crist/Scott campaign's plunge into the notoriety of being one of the nastiest races in the nation.

 


This Rick Scott video just begs for thought bubbles

What are they really thinking? This video from Governor Rick Scott's campaign featuring Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at today's fundraising event at the Biltmore in Coral Gables just begs for thought bubbles over their heads.

Watch it and then wonder - what are each thinking?

 


New ad says Rick Scott spent $800,000 on governor's mansion while cutting education

There are certainly no shortage of wealthy folks living in the Sunshine State. But weath has become an issue in the race to become Florida's governor with both sides claiming the other is rich and out of touch.

Here' the latest attack on private jets aimed at Republican governor Rick Scott. This ad is from Demcorat Charlie Crist who does not own a private jet but likes to ride in them.

 

UPDATE: The Scott campaign reached out Crowley Political Report with a lengthy response to the ad.

An excerpt from the campaign's response:

Charlie Crist’s attacks regarding the Governor’s mansion are absolutely false. No state money was used for anything other than state property repairs as provided in law.  

It’s no wonder these repairs to a public building weren’t done under Charlie Crist; he hardly spent any time working there. Charlie Crist was a part-time governor who spent more time campaigning for a newer office in Washington, DC or on personal time than being the CEO of a state. He neglected this public building just like he neglected Florida’s economy.

 


Is this why Rick Scott is skipping a deposition on Friday

Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas is reporting that Florida Governor Rick Scott is not going to give a scheduled deposition Friday in a lawsuit he initiated.

From the Herald:

Gov. Rick Scott is planning to be a no-show Friday for a deposition in a lawsuit he filed in California to block the release of information about Google email accounts used by him and his executive staff. 

Attorney Steven R. Andrews was prepared to put the governor under oath in Tallahassee but Scott’s communications director, Frank Collins, said Thursday “there is not going to be a deposition tomorrow.” He could not immediately answer whether Scott's lawyers are asking the judge to have the event postponed or if they plan to ignore it entirely. 

However, if the governor is a no-show for a deposition in a case he initiated, it may not be without consequences. According to the rules of civil procedure, if Scott fails to submit to the deposition, the judge could dismiss his lawsuit, order the governor to appear at a later date, or sanction him for refusing to cooperate.

Read more from the Herald here.

Here is one reason Scott might be skipping the deposition - he has a major fundraiser tomorrow with big wigs from the sugar industry, FPL, and other major political donors.

From Tuesday's Crowley Political Report:

Some of Florida's most interesting political donors are hosting an event Friday to raise money for Governor Rick Scott's reelection campaign and the Florida Republican Party.

"You are cordially invited to an afternoon with Governor Rick Scott along with special guests Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio (and)  Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera."

The event is at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables - a glorious place where Bush has his private office mere steps from the golf course.

The gathering begins at 11:30 with a "lunch reception" costing $250 per person or $500 per couple.

The big money event begins at 12:45. It is the "Event Chair Luncheon" for those who have either given or raised $25,000.

The event chairs include:

Pepe Fanjul, Sr., and Pepe Fanjul Jr, owners of Florida Crystals.

Tammy Meyerson, CEO and president of Preferred Medical Plan,

Jim Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, Inc. the parent company of FPL.

Jeffrey Soffer, owner of Turnberry Associates.

George Zoley, founder of the private prison company GEO Group.

We suspect this gathering will be closed to the media.

Wouldn't it be fun if former Republican Charlie Crist dropped by to his old friends?

  Biltmore invite


New ad says Charlie Crist claimed he was helpless

One of the silliest but perhaps most effective charges level at Democrat Charlie Crist by Republican Rick Scott is that Crist lost 1 million jobs while he was governor, caused the housing crisis, and single handily destroyed Florida's economy.

Not of that is true. But you can doubt whether Crist was fully engaged in trying to ease the crisis. It is clear that Crist spent little time in the office, worried a lot about becoming a vice presidential candidate, and was more than happy to jump to the U.S. Senate after a mere two years as governor.

Still, this Republican Party of Florida ad continues a campaign fib that suggests Scott's internal polls are showing - it's working.

The closing line is interesting: We don't need a governor like Charlie who runs away and admits he's helpless in tough times. 


Rudy Giuliani still ticked off at Charlie Crist

Cleary Rudy Giuliani has no intention of forgiving Charlie Crist for endorsing John McCain over him just before the Florida presidential primary in January 2008.

It was a time when every Republican presidential candidate was trooping into Crist's office hoping to win the Republican governor's endorsement. At the last minute, Crist endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain. 

Giuliani insisted that he was promised Crist's endorsement and that Crist betrayed him. Crist insiders said at the time that Crist never gave a final nod to Giuliani and that it was all a misunderstanding.

At the same time, Crist was hoping to become the GOP nominee's running mate and he thought his best chance was with McCain. In fact, McCain's VEEP search team asked for comprehensive background material from Crist.

McCain chose Sarah Palin. 

In the months leading up to the Florida primary, Giuliani's frontrunner status began eroding after stories about his business dealing and long time love affair while mayor of New York. In addition, some social conservatives threatened to form a third party if a candidate like Giuliani, who was pro-choice and pro gay rights, got the nomination.

Giuliani began slipping in the polls and he bet all his chips on a Florida victory to revive his campaign.

Giuliani came in third in the Florida primary and days later dropped out of the race.

Now Crist is a Democrat trying to defeat Republican Rick Scott and return to the governor's mansion. 

Here's what Giuliani had to say about Crist during a campaign appearance today with Scott: 


New Next Gen ad accuses Rick Scott of helping Koch brothers pollute St. Johns River

 The lastest ad from billionaire Tom Steyer and his Next Gen Climate Action Committee says the Koch Brothers owned Georgia Pacific was stopped from polluting the St. Johns River by Charlie Crist. 

The ad then says the Governor Rick Scott allowed GP to pollute suggesting it was in exchange for $6 million in campaign contributions himself and others from the Koch Brothers.

From the ad:

Narrator: The St. Johns River. Georgia Pacific tried to dump cancer causing chemicals into it and Charlie Crist fought them to protect Florida families.

Then Rick Scott took over. Now Georgia Pacific is polluting the river. 

Who owns Georgia Pacific? The Koch Brothers - spending $6 million on Scott and his allies. 

Rick Scott - for the powerful few. And sometimes, just the powerful two.

With nearly every poll showing the race between Crist and Scott tied, Steyer and the Koch brothers must be sweating the outcome.  

 


It may have been the most interesting Scott Crist exchange but

One of the issues that has been largely ignored during the election is the status of Florida's death penalty. There are serious questions about whether the death penalty is effective, whether it is being used properly, and whether delaying executions for decades does more emotional harm than good for the families of victims.

Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist could have touched on those and other death penalty issues but instead got into a squabble about Attorney General Pam Bondi's request toScott asking for to delay an execution so she could host a - wait for it - campaign fundraiser.

Yes, in Florida raising rasing campaign cash is overwhelming solemn event that brooks no delay.

Bondi eventually apologized.

Here is what Scott and Crist had to say about it at the debate.

It is a shame that such an important issue dissolved into this:

 


Rick Scott, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio event Friday at the Biltmore

Some of Florida's most interesting political donors are hosting an event Friday to raise money for Governor Rick Scott's reelection campaign and the Florida Republican Party.

"You are cordially invited to an afternoon with Governor Rick Scott along with special guests Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio (and)  Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera."

The event is at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables - a glorious place where Bush has his private office mere steps from the golf course.

The gathering begins at 11:30 with a "lunch reception" costing $250 per person or $500 per couple.

The big money event begins at 12:45. It is the "Event Chair Luncheon" for those who have either given or raised $25,000.

The event chairs include:

Pepe Fanjul, Sr., and Pepe Fanjul Jr, owners of Florida Crystals.

Tammy Meyerson, CEO and president of Preferred Medical Plan,

Jim Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, Inc. the parent company of FPL.

Jeffrey Soffer, owner of Turnberry Associates.

George Zoley, founder of the private prison company GEO Group.

We suspect this gathering will be closed to the media.

Wouldn't it be fun if former Republican Charlie Crist dropped by to his old friends?

 


Rick Scott suggests that he is indeed ready to spend his own money

Last week, Crowley Political Report told you that Florida Gov. Rick Scott may be ready to dump up to $22 million of his own money into his campaign for reelection.

Yesterday, the Miami Herald came close to getting Scott to admit it.

From the Herald:

Asked if he (Scott) might therefore put his own money into the race, Scott only said: "we’ll see.”

Question: “You haven’t yet though?”

Scott: “We’ll see.”

Scott could be plowing money into the Republican Party of Florida, which doesn’t have to report its finances until the end of the month. Scott signed an election bill that required more disclosure, but it omitted disclosing these types of transactions.

Here is our original report:

Both Rick Scott's campaign and the Florida Republican Party have offered "no comment" to a Crowley Political Report question about whether the Governor is about to dip into his bank account to the tune of $20 million to spend on his effort to defeat Democrat Charlie Crist.

A Republican source confirms the $20 million, while a Democratic source says the word last week was that Scott would spend $22 million.

Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair replied to a Crowley Political Report email with: "No comment here." And Florida GOP spokeswoman Susan Hepworth replied, "no comment."

Neither of those replies suggest that the Scott rumor is true.

Throughout the campaign, despite prodigious fundraising, it has been expected that Scott, who spent more than $70 million of his own money to win in 2010, would again dip into his coffers to boost his campaign in the final weeks.

It will be interesting to hear what Scott says the next time he is asked about using his own money for the campaign. Even if he says he is not using his money, the rumor is not likely to be put to rest until all the campaign finance disclosures are completed.

Meanwhile, both Republicans and Democrats continue to speculate about the cash. Is it real, or just an effort to spook the Crist campaign?


Rick Scott campaign ad notes Charlie Crist absence

This may be one of the more interestng ads that Florida Governor Rick Scott's campaign has produced. It is factual. It is accurate. And it hits Democrat Charlie Crist for being absent from Tallahassee during his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

The irony, of course, is that a close look at Scott's schedule would problaby find he's been away from the job a bit. After all, that's the nature of campaigning.