Three members of the state House leadership have been invited to dinner Thursday at the Governor's Mansion: Reps. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, and Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami. Weatherford and Dorworth are in line to be speakers of the House following Rep. Dean Cannon, and Lopez-Cantera is the current House majority leader.
The event is being billed as a social occasion and it is not listed on Scott's official daily schedule. It has stirred new tensions between the governor's office and the capital press corps because Scott's office wants to allow only two pool reporters to observe the dinner and also wants to hand-pick the reporters who will attend, a condition the press corps considers unacceptable. Similar meetings were open to all reporters in former Gov. Charlie Crist's administration but Scott prefers pool coverage at small events, at which one or two reporters are required to share all observations with the rest of the media.
The state Constitution requires certain "prearranged meetings" between more than two members of the Legislature must be "reasonably open to the public" if "the purpose of which is to agree upon formal legislative action that will be taken at a subsequent time."
Weatherford said his office was not told the purpose of the dinner, but he assumed it was purely social. "I was not under the impression that we're going to be talking about any specific public policy issues. Look, we have a new governor who is trying to build relationships with legislators, and this is an opportunity for him to do that. I think it's purerly social and a chance for him and his wife to show some hospitality. I think most people would understand that."
For what it may be worth, Speaker Cannon said he has not yet been invited to break bread with the new governor.
-- Steve Bousquet