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Gov. Rick Scott's foreign trips increasingly rely on corporate contributions

Via @ToluseO at Bloomberg

Months before Florida Crystals Corp. won a no-bid contract to farm sugar on state-owned land, its top lobbyist and president met with Governor Rick Scott in the home of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

They got access during a 2012 trade mission underwritten by corporations including the company, which is co-owner of the Domino Sugar brand. The trip, intended to recruit businesses to Florida, also provided a lobbying opportunity for those already in the state. After the meeting at the palace, Florida Crystals executives joined Scott at a reception they sponsored, featuring Spanish omelets and dry-cured ham.

Governors increasingly are using corporate money to fund their excursions, often from businesses that stand to benefit from state decisions. While taxpayers traditionally paid for trade missions, at least 15 states have started collecting donations to cover costs, including six since 2010. Scott, a 61-year-old Republican, has tapped the private money most often, making 10 overseas visits in the past three years, twice the pace of his predecessor, according to public records.

“It’s an opportunity that the vast majority of people and companies never get,” said Hayden Dempsey, a Tallahassee lobbyist and former aide to the governor who went on the Spain trip. Scott, he said, was “very accessible.”

In the months after, Scott approved a 30-year lease extension that Florida Crystals sought on 8,700 acres of state land. He also signed a bill helping the company limit payments to clean up pollution near its South Florida farms.

Jackie Schutz, a Scott spokeswoman, declined to respond to criticism of the trips or say whether Florida Crystals representatives talked to the governor during the trip about the cleanup costs or lease.

“The only goal of trade missions is to recruit businesses that will create jobs and hire Florida workers,” she said.

The lease was also approved by the state’s cabinet and legislature, said John Tupps, a Scott spokesman.

Florida Crystals President Jose “Pepe” Fanjul and lobbyist Gaston Cantens didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Spain trip left with Karen Zamani, who handles media calls for the company.

Florida Crystals is among more than 15 companies that have sponsored events on Scott’s overseas trips. The company paid for the reception, held at the home of the U.S. ambassador.

Corporate donations to Enterprise Florida, a public-private group that organizes the missions, are used for Scott’s expenses, according to the group. Travel bills for other officials are covered by taxpayer money.

Executives from Florida Crystals didn’t get special treatment for their $7,500 payment to sponsor the reception in Spain, said Nancy Blum-Heintz, spokeswoman for Enterprise Florida. Blum-Heintz confirmed the meeting with the king. Eduardo Palmer, a lawyer from Coral Gables who traveled to Spain, described the reception at the ambassador’s house.

The closely held sugar company has spent $16,500 to sponsor receptions during Florida trade missions and has donated more than $150,000 to Let’s Get to Work, a political committee that supports Scott’s re-election in November, records show.

Scott and other governors say the trade missions resulted in foreign investment and increased exports. After the Spain trip, Scott’s office said 465 jobs would be created in Miami-Dade County by companies based in that country. Scott’s office said in May that companies from Canada, England and Brazil opened or expanded operations in Florida after his trips. More here.

Comments

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Ed Jenkins

The citizens are once again pleased that this scott is demonstrating his exemplary fiscal stewardship by not using taxpayer confiscated money to pay for trips which has won them over after they initially doubted him. This democrat primary voter would like to take credit for the great fortune we have in finding this scott but is embarrassed to say that he did not vote for the governor in the last race faced with what appeared to be two poor schoices.

Seth Platt

OK "Ed" have it your way.
The real Ed Jenkins will be contacted to be informed you are impersonating him on the internet, since there is only one in Miami-Dade who votes in Primaries as your profess.
I am sure some attorney will gladly take you to the cleaners.
Right wing bloggers are so dumb. You better hope you covered your tracks...
Your ip address is accessible by court order for your continued false impersonation of a real person on this blog.

Can't take anymore

Of course Scott is in bed with the large corporations. They are his true constituents and only friends. He works tirelessly for them, their financial enrichment and supports public job training dollars to keep them well supplied with low paid worker drones.

Highly paid Republican operative

Seth give it up. Ed Jenkins is an institution in these parts. He can not be silenced.

He is the Governor's alter ego.

D

Oh look its platt the brown shirt here to make sure none of his democrat party members are thinking for themselves. Whats the matter are you afraid jenkins thinks a little too much for himself unlike the rest of your drones you nazi? Get the hell out of hear you loser, we are tired of reading from you loser party members here you lowlife, you fit in perfectly with the rest of the losers in the democrat party.

Get Real

And yet labor unions are the ones supposed to he corrupting the democratic process? Labor unions buy elections.... Corporate donations are just freedom of speech.

Seth Platt

@D
Calling someone a Nazi in print who is not one is libel D.
You are as dumb as Ed and probably the same dolt.
If you resort to such name calling again I WILL happily take legal action against you.

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