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Gov. Rick Scott, under pressure, retreats from statement calling anti-Cuba law unenforceable

Gov. Rick Scott has started retreating from a controversial statement that a Cuba-crackdown bill he signed the day before was unenforceable.

In a written statement, Scott now acknowledges that the law will go into effect. And he reiterated his support for it — even though he thinks it might not survive a legal challenge.

“Constitutional lawyers have told me that this legislation will be challenged in court. I signed the bill regardless of that fact, and it will become a state law on July 1, 2012,” he wrote. “As Governor, it is my sworn duty to uphold the laws of the state and I will meet any challenge to this law in court as necessary.”

Scott’s move was a peace offering of sorts to Miami’s Cuban-American lawmakers, who were incensed Tuesday when he signed the bill into law at the Freedom Tower — only to issue a letter afterward that suggested the law is unconstitutional.

The law would prohibit state and local governments from hiring companies — notably Odebrecht, a Brazilian engineering and construction firm that works extensively in South Florida — whose parent companies or affiliates also do business in Cuba or Syria. Because the state law could affect foreign commerce, Scott said in his Tuesday letter, it needed the approval of Congress and the president.

Scott’s letter blindsided the members of Congress and the state Legislature — all Republicans — who were never told he would espouse that position. They said the state law was fine and that Scott’s letter potentially undermined it because it armed opponents with a potent legal argument if and when they sue.

“It’s unfortunate this very ill-conceived statement muddies the waters,” U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said earlier Wednesday, before Scott’s latest statement came out.

Story here.

Comments

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Rich Haney

Having a spineless, self-serving Florida governor like Rick Scott capitulate shamelessly to the radical fringe of Cuban exiles is no news, frankly. One news story the Herald, of course, didn't cover today was the demonstration led by Elena Salas Freyre in front of the bombed out Airlines building in the Coral Gables suburb of Miami. Ms. Freyre issued a huge challenge "for our government to act very promptly to make sure the people who committed this act are apprehended and brought to justice." The bombing, apparently to discourage tourism to Cuba, is a reminder of Cubana Flight 455, the bragging by Luis Posada Carriles in the NY Times about bombing Cuban hotels to discourage tourism to the island, the column by now departed Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede entitled "Terrorism is Terrorism, whether in London or Miami....," etc., etc. Elena Freyre heads the Cuban Committee for Democracy, founded by moderate Cuban exiles; she was born in Cuba and came to the U. S. in 1960 when she was 12. I know her views are not as important as Luis Posada Carriles' are in Miami, but how can the Miami Herald ignore her when I happened to catch the video reports of her demonstration on two major Miami TV stations today? Are we to believe that terror is terror, except in Miami?

David Kearns

Taxpayer money cannot be used to the shameless benefit of one political party over another. It's a violation of the state's ethics code. Here he admits that's exactly what he did, as he was doing it. Drafting legislation - expensive - that you know is not going to hold water just so you can garner votes from one group, is theft of taxpayer money. He can't even claim he was "creating jobs" with this move, because he was killing them. When will someone in the legislature file an ethics charge?!!!

Daniel

Oh joy. Another unconstitutional anti-Cuba law that will be struck down by the courts. God bless the Florida legislature for wasting our time and money.

Et tu, Brute?

What part of don't use tax dollars to companies that do business with sponsors of terror DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? Are you DAF? You lost move on nothing to see here...

Daniel, their has to be a challange with "Standing" in order to file suit on this case, I would love to see the company that argues Judge, we want to do business with a terrorist sponsor and also want to get your tax dollars? Instead,choose to fight for the right cause don't defend the Castro dictatorship.

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