Florida’s Republican Governor and Senate candidate just got hit with a potentially criminal ethics complaint and a federal lawsuit after abusing his office to conduct a campaign of unlawful election interference
Gov. Rick Scott (R) is facing an ethics complaint (embedded below) from the Democratic Coalition which could result in a fine and referral criminal charges, and the non-partisan League of Women Voters and two other plaintiffs filed a (embedded below) federal lawsuit seeking to oust him from the statewide Election Canvassing Commission for violating voters’ constitutional right to a fair election.
Scott is currently locked in a close race with Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, while Florida law requires a manual statewide recount of all 8 million ballots cast in the race.
That’s why Rick Scott held a highly unusual press conference last week to promote baseless conspiracy theories and partisan attacks on the integrity of the midterm elections right from the governor’s mansion, where he demanded a criminal fraud investigation without any basis in fact.
The Democratic Coalition struck back on Friday night, faxing a complaint to the Florida Ethics Commission against Scott for abuse of office by illegally using the governor’s mansion and state equipment for last week’s democracy-defying press conference.
Today, the League of Women Voters filed their lawsuit, which If successful will result in a court injunction to block the Republican Governor from abusing his office again during this election. Buzzfeed reports:
“Scott’s continued interventions in the race violate the basic notion of fairness that no man should be a judge in his own cause,” says the suit filed by a voter in Broward County, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and Common Cause Florida.
As an example of a conflict of interest, Scott sits on the state canvassing board that certifies elections and appoints its members, the complaint says. Further, he appoints the Florida secretary of state, who must determine later this week if Scott’s race must also be subjected to a hand recount of the ballots, and he oversees the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
“I hope the Florida Ethics Commission takes immediate action,” says Democratic Coalition senior advisor Scott Dworkin in a press release, “to hold Governor Scott to account for this crime. “Rick Scott shouldn’t be interfering with his own election,” says Dworkin, whose complaint outlines the Governor’s flagrant disregard for Florida’s public corruption laws: “Governor Scott’s partisan abuse of office must be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” says Jon Cooper, Chairman of the Democratic Coalition.
There’s a good chance that Sen. Nelson could still be declared the winner of the race, despite being on the wrong side of a 12,000 vote margin between the two candidates. That’s because a highly unusual under-vote “way out of line with every other county,” according to FiveThirtyEight.com occurred in Broward County, where 3.7% of the ballots didn’t register a vote in the marquis Senate race.
The New York Times believes counting those votes in the 24th Congressional district could end up settling the race.
That’s probably why Rick Scott held a press conference full of lies, which moved quickly from the Florida Governor’s mansion to the White House.
Politico reports that the Republican’s Senate campaign won’t even comment on the substance of the Democratic Coalition’s complaint and that Rick Scott’s vague allegations of criminality against Elections Supervisors in Democratic voter-rich areas are totally meritless:
Monitors sent by Scott’s Florida Department of State and the FDLE agree that there has been no official claims of voter fraud…
Scott campaign spokesman Chris Hartline told POLITICO in an email on Sunday… didn’t answer whether Scott’s campaign paid for props used at the event, including a podium and microphone. The governor’s mansion is the taxpayer-funded home for any Florida governor.
Hartline didn’t directly address it, there is a legal distinction between Scott as a political candidate asking FDLE to take up an investigation and his sending out a formal order as the governor.
Nobody knows about fraud quite like Rick Scott, because he made his fortune running a massive hospital chain convicted of multiple felonies for defrauding Medicare of nearly $2 billion. but for some reason, Florida Republicans keep voting for him.
Under Rick Scott’s “leadership,” the Columbia/HCA hospitals pled guilty to corporate felony violations in Miami, Atlanta, and El Paso, Texas as well as in an agreement with the US Department of Justice’s Criminal Fraud Section due to an investigation in Nashville, Tennessee.
The New York Times called Scott’s financial swindle a “blind trust in name only” which allowed his wife – an interior decorator by trade – to become one of the new American oligarchs, enriching both by cutting expedited deals for an oil pipeline and using the state to buy drugs from a company in which he owned stock, for example.
“Rick Scott knows better than to misuse his office for personal gain,” says Cooper. “But he keeps doing it.”
“Rick Scott used the Governor’s Mansion, which is state property, to issue a false and partisan statement in his campaign for the United States Senate,” says Democratic Coalition attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee. “We are filing a complaint against Scott with the Florida Commission on Ethics because he plainly violated the law.”
You can get a copy of the complaint here:
Here’s the federal lawsuit: