December 05, 2016

Fact-checking Gov. Rick Scott's claim about invention of Obamacare



Donald Trump’s White House win gave Florida Gov. Rick Scott a powerful ally in his fight against Obamacare.

In a Nov. 30 op-ed in USA Today, the former hospital executive reiterated his 2010 campaign pledge to fight for repeal of the federal health care law.

"Other than President Obama and a few stragglers, everyone now realizes that Obamacare was a terrible notion," wrote the Republican governor. "It was sold on a lie. It was invented by liberal academic theorists who have no interaction with real families and businesses and therefore it doesn’t work."

Scott’s piece leaves out that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is based on ideas from not just Democrats but also Republicans.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida


November 28, 2016

Eight months after losing confirmation fight, Armstrong leaves DOH


Since March, when it was clear the Senate would not confirm him as state surgeon general, Dr. John Armstrong has continued to cash a paycheck while on medical leave as deputy secretary of health.

On Nov. 21, he finally left the Department of Health.

The state announced Monday that Michele Tallent will officially take over the role of deputy secretary of health for administration after holding the job on an acting basis since January.

Tallent, who previously ran DOH's budget office and was Gov. Rick Scott's top adviser on the health and human services budget, will oversee the administrative functions of DOH. Her salary is $120,999.

"(Tallent's) years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services," said Dr. Celeste Philip, the current surgeon general, in a statement Monday.

Armstrong has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer diagnosed last year. He continued to receive a $119,000 paycheck and benefits while on medical leave.

The state surgeon general and secretary of health from 2012, Armstrong left the job in March of this year, facing a state Senate that would not confirm him. Some senators criticized the department's handling of medical marijuana policy, the removal of sick children from a state-run health insurance program and cutbacks in county health departments that accompanied apparent rises in new HIV cases.

November 17, 2016

Scott meets president-elect inside Trump Tower


Florida Gov. Rick Scott said once again Thursday that he's not interested in serving in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, after meeting privately with Trump in New York.

"I'm staying in Florida," Scott told Neil Cavuto in a Fox News Channel interview shortly after concluding his Trump meeting. Scott, a former hospital executive, has been rumored as a contender for health and human services secretary.

Scott said he wants to help Trump be successful.

"I always believed he would win," Scott said. Of the so-far rocky transition, the governor added: "It's going to work out."

November 15, 2016

Florida Gov. Rick Scott: 'I talk to Trump a lot'

via @adamsmithtimes

ORLANDO -- There aren't many elected Republicans in America happier about Donald Trump's election than Gov. Rick Scott, an early Trump supporter in a battleground state dominated by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio loyalists.

Scott not only is a fellow super-rich businessman and political outsider who ran against the GOP establishment, he also happens to have run a healthcare company, Columbia/HCA, that was targeted by the Clinton administration for allegedly massive Medicare fraud. So you can understand why Gov. Scott - a likely candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 - is smiling big this week.

"I now have a president I can talk to. I talk to Trump a lot. I have both a president and a vice president who are friends of mine," Scott, 63, told reporters in a free-wheeling interview in Orlando Tuesday, where he is attending the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association.

Scott, who led a super PAC that spent $20-million on TV ads for Trump in states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio, noted that Republicans spent millions of dollars to beat him in his 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Afterward, he was willing to sit down with his opponents to accomplish common goals. 

"If you didn't embrace Trump, I would embrace him. I would figure out how to help him be successful," Scott said. "My experience with Trump in the years that I've known him, he's a guy that gets along with people. He's a consensus builder, he's pragmatic, and he wants to get stuff done."

Continue reading "Florida Gov. Rick Scott: 'I talk to Trump a lot'" »

November 09, 2016

October 24, 2016

South Florida a focus of Obama human-trafficking initiative



Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a White House meeting Monday of a high-level task force set up by President Barack Obama in 2012 to combat forced labor and prostitution.

Federal law enforcement agencies have initiated more than 6,000 human-trafficking cases and secured at least 4,000 convictions since Obama took office in January 2009.

"While more work is required to tackle the root causes and consequences of human trafficking, the United States continues to be a leader in the global movement to end modern slavery," the White House said in a statement.

Part of the Obama initiative is focused on Miami and New York, two national trafficking hubs.

The U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Justice are collaborating to provide job and training services in those cities for victims of human trafficking.

More than 1,200 instances of human trafficking were reported in the Sunshine State through the Florida Abuse Line in fiscal year 2014-15.

South Florida is the third-most-active region for sex trafficking in the country, with minors often the victims, according to the Justice Department.

Before it was cancelled because of Hurricane Matthew, Attorney General Pam Bondi had scheduled the Florida Human Trafficking Summit for Oct. 10 in Orlando. Five-hundred law-enforcement officers, service providers, healthcare professionals, educators, legislators and community leaders had signed up to attend, along with trafficking victims.

Obama's task force gave a presidential anti-trafficking award to Students Opposing Slavery, a network of high school and college students who raise awareness about trafficking among youth. The University of Central Florida in Orlando has one of the most active chapters of the group.

"Leaders in our state are committed to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human-trafficking," Bondi said.

In a recent case, the drug-overdose death of a 14-year-old girl in Orlando led police to break open a human-trafficking ring based there.

Jose Ignacio Santiago-Sotomayor, 22, and Avorice Jeno Holman, 19, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder, human trafficking of a child and procuring a minor for prostitution. Police said they and other members of the ring drugged girls in order to have sex with them.

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott declared January the Human Trafficking Awareness Month and signed four bills into law that stiffened penalties for human traffickers, established protections for past victims, and promoted efforts to help people recognize warning signs.

"It is unfathomable that this evil occurs in our state, but by expanding services and passing important legislation this year, we are helping to save and heal the lives of our state's most vulnerable," Scott said.

In July, police busted a human-trafficking ring in Seminole County with more than 20 victims, arresting Christian Pena Fernandez and Rachel Gonzalez.

Detectives said that Pena Fernandez ran a sophisticated organization in which he recruited and harbored women to provide sex. He ran ads seeking women on, they said.

The couple used motels and hotels across Central Florida in their operation, detectives said.

Photo credit: Getty Images


October 19, 2016

Gov. Scott's pro-Trump super PAC raises $18 million

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott's super PAC supporting Donald Trump pulled in nearly $18 million in the third quarter, including $6 million from Linda McMahon of WWE fame and a former U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut.

McMahon has been critical of Trump --"He's not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light," she told Yahoo Politics in March -- but joined the team and her donations to Rebuilding America Now came in several installments starting in August, according to an FEC report.

The PAC had $3 million cash on hand, having spent the bulk of the money on a number of TV commercials supporting Trump and attacking Hillary Clinton.

Other big donors:

Marcus Bernard, a founder of Home Depot: $5 million

Ronald Cameron, the poultry billionaire  - $2 million

See all the donors here. Gov. Scott is not among them.

As Scott has taken on a growing role helping raise money for a super PAC supporting Trump, his own political action committee on the state level has dramatically slowed its fundraising.

Since the start of 2015, Scott had raised more than $7 million in his Let’s Get to Work political action committee which he has used to run television ads and support his legislative agenda. But since Aug. 27, Scott has received just one $100 check. It’s the least amount of money Scott has raised during a nearly two month stretch since early 2011 in his first six months in office.

Scott is still spending money out of the account though. Earlier this month Let’s Get to Work sent a $200,0000 contribution to Florida Jobs PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce. It was his largest single donation in more than 6 months.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times, with Jeremy Wallace

October 18, 2016

Obama discredits Trump's charges of 'rigged' election citing Florida

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Blasting Donald Trump's complaints about a "rigged" election, President Obama today invoked the state of Florida and Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place.  It's unprecedented.  It happens to be based on no facts. Every expert, regardless of political party, regardless of ideology -- conservative or liberal -- who has ever examined these issues in a serious way will tell you that instances of significant voter fraud are not to be found; that, keep in mind, elections are run by state and local officials, which means that there are places like Florida, for example, where you've got a Republican governor whose Republican appointees are going to be running and monitoring a whole bunch of these election sites.  The notion that somehow if Mr. Trump loses Florida it's because of those people that you have to watch out for -- that is both irresponsible, and, by the way, it doesn't really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you'd want out of a President.

Continue reading "Obama discredits Trump's charges of 'rigged' election citing Florida" »

October 13, 2016

Rick Scott mistakenly wished Jewish Floridians a 'Happy Yom Kippur'


Florida's Republican governor made a notable misstep Wednesday evening while trying to mark the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

In a Facebook post published after 5 p.m., Rick Scott -- on behalf of himself and First Lady Ann Scott -- wished Jewish Floridians a "Happy Yom Kippur," which isn't the appropriate well-wish to offer, because the holiday isn't a "happy" one.

Yom Kippur is a solemn holiday -- the Day of Atonement -- when Jews fast, reflect on their sins and ask for forgiveness.

Read the full story here.

October 10, 2016

Congress more stingy on providing disaster relief than it once was


NP-HurricaneMatthewAid-101016-Dan08 MathewNFL NEW PPP


The final damage tally from Hurricane Matthew across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas isn't yet known, but it’s certain those states will ask Congress for billions in disaster aid.

President Barack Obama, after speaking with their governors, suggested that he’ll be seeking emergency funds for damage from Matthew and earlier storms when lawmakers convene after the Nov. 8 election, and Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio said Florida was certain to seek assistance.

“While the state has yet to commence an assessment of damage due to unsafe conditions remaining in many areas, we must be prepared for the long road of recovery ahead,” Rubio wrote Friday in a letter backing up a request from Scott that Obama declare Matthew a “major disaster” for his state, a designation that would allow it to seek more emergency aid from Washington.

For more, read here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, El Nuevo Herald


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