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CNN targets Gov. Scott in report on 'pay to play' politics

CNN devoted nearly 15 minutes in prime time Wednesday evening to a report on what anchor Anderson Cooper called "the extortion game" of pay-to-play politics -- and a case study in the piece was Gov. Rick Scott.

Reporter Drew Griffin did a "pay up or else" piece on the endless practice of Washington politicians soliciting money from lobbyists, and a former Shell Oil executive repeatedly used the word "extortion." Even though the piece was D.C.-centric, Scott was featured at the beginning and the end. The report focused on a November K Street fund-raiser for Scott's soft-money committee, Let's Get to Work, where the price of admission was $2,500 (for $10,000, donors could have a photo-op with Scott).

The host of that Scott fund-raiser, CNN reported, was The Principi Group, a D.C. lobbying firm headed by Anthony Principi, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, who in 2012 landed a $1.8 million contract with the state to safeguard Florida military bases from closures. The Principi Group has donated $10,000 to Let's Get to Work.

"It's all just a coincidence," Griffin said, his voice fairly dripping with sarcasm.

Scott was shown at a Cabinet meeting, blandly deflecting questions about the money. "You'll have to talk to Let's Get to Work,"he said. CNN then quoted the Republican Party of Florida as saying: "Gov. Scott makes all decisions based on what is best for the people of Florida and what will create jobs, careers and opportunities for its citizens."

-- Steve Bousquet