Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rick Scott Is a Major Scandal But Barely a Blip On The National Radar

It's been months, and it's barely been covered by anything resembling the national media, but recently posted an article on the ongoing scandals of Rick "No Ethics" Scott here in Florida (an article which quickly slid under the radar with all the more current craziness dominating the news).

Comparing Scott's woes to the fall of another governor, Oregon's John Kitzhaber, writer David Dayen tries to point out why criminal Scott won't be leaving office the way Kitzhaber did:

In any normal political environment, the charges would lead to calls for resignation or impeachment proceedings. But Scott appears insulated by the very expectation of his corruption. In idealistic Oregon, Democrats controlled every level of government, and forced out a member of their own party. In Florida, the governor is supposed to be a scoundrel...

Dayen covers three of the ongoing scandals pursuing Scott: the more public disaster that has been Bailey-Gate, the questionable firing of a well-liked FDLE department chief over what seems to be Bailey's refusal to play Scott's partisanship games; a lawsuit over a disputed land use proposal to expand the governor's mansion that led to the revelation that Scott has been - and might still be using - illegal private emails in violation of Florida's Sunshine laws; and another lawsuit from political opponent George Sheldon over Scott's differing financial disclosures to both the federal Securities Exchange Commission and the state's ethics board.

Scott's refusal to play by the rules of ethics - both over the secret emails and over his financial chicanery - ought to be major strikes against him:

This is critical because public officials in Florida are subject to the release of emails from their official accounts, like those former Gov. Jeb Bush released last week. The use of private email accounts to conduct state business violates the law, especially if they aren’t turned over when asked for. Andrews got a judge to allow him to amend his complaint to say that the governor knowingly violated public records requests, an impeachable offense in Florida. The administration continues to fight to get the suit tossed...

It'd be nice to think that under normal circumstances Scott would be facing impeachment over his misconduct.  He's earned that much from his scornful performance.  Other governors - Blagojevich, remember him? McDonnell.  Now Kitzhaber - have gotten charged, impeached, driven from office for similar unethical conduct.  But this isn't a normal circumstance here in Florida.

Here in Florida the f-cking game is rigged.  Regarding Sheldon's ethics case, for example:
Sheldon believes that Scott has maneuvered money through a network of trust accounts to hide it from public scrutiny. Scott has refused to deliver information on the trusts, calling the lawsuit a “frivolous partisan attack” and claiming that the discrepancies with the SEC documents have to do with Scott’s wife Ann’s money. Scott’s lawyers want to move the case out of court and into the state ethics commission, currently chaired by a Republican appointed by the governor.

Yup. Scott wants his case reviewed by a political ally.  Oh, of course, don't be too surprised when the ally turns a blind eye or dismisses the charges or even gives Rick "What Part of Medicare Fraud Did You Voters Ignore" Scott a gold medal for being "a sweet little angel". (insert choking noise here)

We're not going to see the state government do anything about Rick Scott's ethical failures because the agencies that are best positioned to do something about it - the state legislature in particular - are in no rush to rock the boat or turn against one of their own partisan hacks.

We're talking about a state legislature that is so firmly entrenched with Republicans in power that the state House and Senate plan ahead who their legislative leaders - House Speaker, Senate President - will be (due to a term-limit law at the state level, there's a cap on how long a legislator serves as Speaker).

The only other method to confront Scott over these scandals is the court system... and Scott has enough money and lawyers on payroll to game the courts long enough to avoid answering for his sins well until he leaves office in 2018.

It'd be nice to think the federal government could step in, force a more serious and more public investigation - in particular, Scott's questionable filings with the SEC should be sending up the right red flags - that could embarrass the state Republicans to abandon Scott.  But that doesn't seem like it's going to happen.  And outside of this one Salon article, it doesn't look like the national media is willing to pay attention long enough for the state party to feel any shame or pressure to change their tune.

We're pretty much at the point where Rick "HE'S A CROOK VOTERS, WHAT THE HELL" Scott can knock over a string of liquor stores between Orlando and Miami and still never answer for anything.

Thanks a lot, Republican voters who VOTED FOR AN UNETHICAL MEDICARE FRAUD.  Thanks a lot, Democratic voters who REFUSED TO SHOW UP TO VOTE FOR CRIST BECAUSE HE WASN'T PURE ENOUGH FOR YA.  /headdesk

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