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Scott's fundraiser comedy gold for HBO's John Oliver

@mikevansickler

Gov. Rick Scott tempted the comedy gods with his latest choice of fundraisers.

And, as Sunday night’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” proved, the comedy gods show no mercy.

Not with the material Scott gave them Monday night.

 

Scott attended a $10,000 per person fundraiser at the home of George Zoley, the president of Geo Group of Boca Raton. Geo is the the second-largest private prison company in the U.S. with $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Geo has been the subject of much unflattering attention lately. There was the Mother Jones story on Friday detailing all sorts of problems at Geo facilities, like the hunger strike at the immigration detention center in Broward County that was protesting overcrowding and high costs, and the students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University who successfully protested against the stadium getting named after the GEO Group.

Zoley, who was netting between $22 million from the GEO Group between 2008 and 2012, has become a big supporter of Scott’s. Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s reelection campaign, has accepted $415,000 from Geo Group and its affiliate, Geo Care.

Monday night’s fundraiser posed a fat target for the comedy writers at HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”, which has quickly become the buzziest comedy show on TV.

“We love prisons so much a shocking number of Americans are currently inside one,” Oliver said at the beginning of 17-minute segment that was mainly focused on the privatization of the American prison system.

“We have more prisoners at the moment than China. Than China. We don’t have more of anything than China, other than, of course, debt to China.”

At about 12 minutes in, Oliver zeroed in on Florida.

“The key problem running prisons like businesses is that prisons are then run as businesses,” Oliver said, seguing into his main example of the Geo Group.

“Pay and staffing ratios are so much lower in a Geo Group youth facility in Mississippi, that it sometimes had just two officers overseeing as many as 256 prisoners. That facility eventually closed, but only after a federal judge wrote that physical and sexual abuse was rampant there because its operators had ‘allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate.'

“Now I know that GEO will say that presents an unbalanced picture of their company, so in the interest of balance, I will point out that they got an award from from the State of Florida for 'bold and innovative cost-saving business practices,'” Oliver stated. “Although I think we all know, that when the state of Florida gives you an award, that award is basically sarcastic.”

A quick side note, Oliver said, is that the award was signed by Scott.

“He’s led the drive to prison privatization in his state,’ Oliver said. “But on one condition.”

It then cuts to old footage of a Scott gaggle, where the governor is surrounded by TV cameras and reporters.

“What I’ve said all along is that this is an opportunity for the taxpayers of the state to save money,” Scott said.  “There’s no way we’ll do this if we don’t save money. As you know, the bill says if we don’t save at least seven percent, we don’t do prison privatization.”

Back to Oliver.

“Hey, hey, hey, listen,” Oliver said. “If you think Rick Scott is going to look the other way for a company with a history of the physical abuse of minors for the savings of a mere six percent, you don’t know Rick Scott, ok? Ricky needs seven. Ricky wants seven. Ricky likes seven, ok?”

Big laugh.

“Now if you happen at all to be interested in asking Rick Scott about the conduct of the Geo Group, for goodness sake, don’t do it tomorrow night,” Oliver said during his Sunday telecast. “He’s busy. We actually checked and he’s going to be at a fundraiser at the home of, and this is true, the CEO of Geo Group.”

Groans from audience.

“I believe the theme of that fundraiser is, ‘Come Join Rick Scott; A cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts,'” Oliver said

Big laughs, applaluse.

“Look, this is all so depressing,” Oliver said. “The whole system seems fundamentally broken.”

When asked for comment about the segment, which had been viewed on YouTube 270,915 times by Monday afternoon, Scott’s campaign wouldn’t comment.

Immigrant rights groups and some local residents on Monday night stood outside Zoley’s home, which is in Boca’s Royal Yacht & Country Club community, to protest the reports of abuse, sexual assault and neglect at Geo Group facilities.

Jackie Schutz, a Scott campaign spokeswoman, said Scott stopped to talk to protesters before the fundraiser.

“He wanted to talk to them about their concerns,” Schutz said. “And he said his office will look into them.”

Despite becoming an instant comedy punch line, the fundraiser is not likely to be used as ammunition by Scott’s opponent, Charlie Crist.

Zoley, it turns out, was a major supporter of Crist when he became governor in 2006, offering not just the use of his corporate jet so Crist could campaign across the state, but also $50,000 to Crist’s inaugural ball, which was later returned with other large donations after a public outcry.

Comments

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Highly paid Republican operative

They better stop making fun of the Boss. He does not take kindly to these shenanigans.

ed jenkins

The readers have previously commented that they want news from their hometown paper and they do not consider news something that happened on a clown show on television. The readers want this most lazy article writer who thinks they can sit on their couch and watch their entertainment programs and then report it as news to the rest of us who do not consider this nonsense news to be terminated by their hometown paper and replaced by article writers who report news.

Scott Harris

John Oliver talks about issues that others don't touch and he does it well. While Mike's reporting may seem basic to you Ed, what it does is bring attention to issues and a forum that needs to be shared. It's relevant. It's funny. It's informative. If you want to defend Scott the crooked and disconnected miscreant then just do it. Millions of people watching John Oliver pounce Scott is newsworthy. And it was insanely funny. Prison privatization by a $25 Million a year (PLUS) crook CEO is newsworthy as well. As is the campaign finance debacle that has brought it about. Too bad a real candidate won't step forward to be dragged through the mud, ridiculed, poked, probed, and prodded. Thanks to corruption, greed and "reporting" by pointed partisan groups this country is circling in the bowl.

palmettoexile

@ Scott Harris-spot on! The Scott administration has not only beggared the vast majority of Florida citizens, but also has provide unlimited resources to the corporate buds of King Scott. With some of the State's more enterprising-and courageous-reporters, many of the shadier 'deals' facilitated by Scott and friends are coming to light. He personally has made millions from these associations and his investments from these businesses that are (purportedly) in a blind trust. Privatizing the prison industry is but one of the schemes by which Scott has seen an astronomical increase in his personal portfolio. In so doing, he has literally robbed the middle class-what's left of it.
Scott BOUGHT this office; he hasn't ceased his attempts to buy everything else. The GEO debacle is yet more instance of the Gov's perfidy.
As Scott M. said, Oliver's show-and others like it-bring these things to national, and hopefully, State attention. Most people get their daily "news" from either late-night television or extremely slanted news/internet articles ; the truly slanted extreme sites post articles that are conjecture rather than true-most are not verifiable.. As hard as they try to hide from the voters,, even the King's nannies can't keep folks like John Oliver, Colbert, and Stewart from bringing the more egregious abuses to the public attention. Comedy serves an important purpose-more people probably pay attention to and remember something they can laugh at/about. In Oliver and Colbert's cases, the inverted sarcasm makes people (hopefully)scratch their heads and THINK beyond the actual words. Some may even experience an "Ah Ha! moment-I hope.
Florida deserves the moniker of "most corrupt"-the Republicans in power have abused every facet of the election system. Gerrymandering? Fl. takes the # 1 spot. Kudos to those who have the will, the wit and the resources to shine light on those who inarguably bring shame to the system and themselves. Would there were more Local/State journalists not in thrall to the Scott/Republican Royals now in charge.
The state, I fear, is not merely circling the bowl-the handle has been pulled and we all are in the tank-except for the Tallahassee sharks at the top of the feeding chain. They made certain of THEIR lifeboats..
( ed jenkins is a total joke-he tends to speak "for all the citizens and readers" in the State. I wish he would, at least, avail himself of a dictionary and a tome on basic grammar.Just ignore all he writes. I do.)

ed jenkins

As has been seen the readers are greatly disgusted at the poor quality product being put out for ever higher prices which is why this hometown paper has experienced massive subscriber losses in recent decades. This hometown paper should terminate all article writers who ignore the wishes of the readers and this article writer is near the top of the list for this most horrible lazy reporting about a buffoonery show as actual news which this article writer chose to do since it didn't require leaving the couch or any thought or work, yet the readers have stated that they in no way consider this nonsense news. Those looking for reports on clown shows are not concerned citizens but rather the dregs of society who live most useless lives watching late night foolishness on tv (likely under the influence of some substance) while wasting the day away as worthless drags on society.

Bill Thompson

The readers compliment and agree with the wise comments of the commentators Scott Harris and palmettoexile.

palmettoexile

@ ed jenkins-I would pose a question to you. If you, as a regular reader and a citizen of this family-friendly State, apparently object so strenuously to every writer from both these newspapers,and the content of the articles themselves, WHY then do you waste your obviously valuable time (and extraordinary command of the language) in continuing to peruse and comment on these most horrible lazy writers?
I would be happy to suggest a few more newsletters from other local/national newspapers that you may find more to your liking if you so wish.(?)
To address another of your ramblings, I do believe the decrease in print subscribers to the local paper is due more to the people such as you and I-who read and comment on the digital versions of said papers.DO you have a print subscription? If so, it must be extremely tiring for you to recall every article that you are reading at the breakfast table and then go back and forth to your computer in order to comment.I must say, however, that you are consistent-everything you write has a remarkable similarity. Copy and paste a good bit, do you?
As an side-I am neither a worthless dreg (not drAg) of/on society, nor am I an imbiber/user of any substance. I do, however, enjoy several of the "clown" shows. I sometimes manage to gain a few more perspectives on happenings that I may have missed during my busy, productive day. Many times, I merely laugh-it makes me happy. I would suggest that you, too, perhaps might gain by staying up past 7 pm. Cheers !

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