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Rick Scott's taxpayer-paid campaign-like letters now going out to.... new attorneys

@MarcACaputo

Image-5Maybe $100 million just isn't enough.

Though Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign has plans to spend this eye-popping amount (about as much as 2010), taxpayers are also chipping in to help spread the Republican's talking points to business-license holders and, now, new attorneys.

Those admitted to the Florida Bar are starting to receive new letters from Scott congratulating them -- and crediting Scott for Florida's improving economic conditions.

"In the four years before taking office, Florida lost more than 832,000 jobs, and unemployment more than tripled -- from 3.5 to 11.1 percent," Scott writes. "State debt increased by $5.2 billion, our housing market collapsed, our economy was off track and our families were hurting."

The language closely tracks the heart of his campaigns talking points, both past and present. However, Scott doesn't explicitly blame his predecessor and now-current rival, Democrat Charlie Crist, who is besting the embattled and unpopular governor by as much as 10 percentage points in some polls.

Scott's letters also don't mention that the national and global economy are improving as well.

Scott2The governor's office has repeatedly denied he's campaigning on the state dime because cheering on citizens is part of the governor's job.

Form letters are nothing new for politicians, nor is using the powers of office and the bully pulpit to campaign. Still, the Scott letters appear different in scope and scale when compared to predecessors like Crist and former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bush, for instance, fashioned himself as "the education governor" and talked about it before, during and after he was in office. Yet educators don't remember Bush sending out numerous attaboy letters to school kids who did well on tests.

Scott started doing that last year. Scott also sent out notes to college graduates that are also chock full of campaign talking points.

None of the education letters, though, point out that he proposed big cuts to lower and higher education in his first two years as governor.

Business licensees, also, receive congratulatory letters from the governor.

The Florida Times Union reported last month that, "since the beginning of 2013, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which Scott’s office oversees, has spent nearly $10,000 sending letters to 425,596 people who have received or renewed their business or professional regulations."

Similar to the new letters to attorneys, the ongoing letters to business licensees point out that Scott cuts taxes, business regulations and has paid down debt.

In June, a woman named Gail Ellyson complained to The Miami Herald after she received a Scott letter when she renewed her Florida Broker's License.

“I find this letter disturbing. The Governor has undoubtedly used taxpayer funds for self-service of his political office and future,” she said. “I resent my tax dollars being used for a tagalong political comment with my renewal.”

Said the governor’s office in a written response: “Applauding the work of business leaders in our state is a part of the Governor’s focus on job creation.”

 

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