June 14, 2016

White House: 'Hopefully' President Obama, Gov. Rick Scott will talk Thursday


While President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have yet to speak directly after the Orlando shooting massacre, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier today that "hopefully" the president and governor will meet up when Obama is in Orlando on Thursday.

Scott pointedly noted this morning on Fox News that he's had phone calls from Donald Trump and former President George W. Bush -- but his communication with the White House has been limited to a Monday night phone call with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Asked today if Obama has plans to reach out to Scott, Earnest responded:

Well, first of all, the President has had the opportunity to speak with Buddy Dyer, who is the mayor of Orlando.  Other senior White House officials have been in touch with Governor Scott directly, and there have been a number of conversations between Obama administration officials and their counterparts in Florida to ensure that we are effectively coordinating the efforts of federal authorities with state and local authorities as well.

So that is an important principle here, to make sure that all our efforts are concentrated on investigating this situation, getting to the bottom of it, but also standing in solidarity with a community that's grieving.  And, as we announced last night, the President will be traveling to Orlando on Thursday.  And, as we always do, we will invite the governor to be a part of the President's arrival.  And hopefully the President will have the opportunity to see Governor Scott there.

When asked if Scott had plans to meet with Obama on Thursday or if he would greet the president on the tarmac when Air Force One lands, Scott's spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told the Herald/Times in an email this afternoon: "No details yet." 

Gov. Rick Scott says President Obama hasn't called him

Gov. Rick Scott wants a call from President Obama. Appearing on Fox & Friends this morning:

On whether President Obama has reached out to him since the shooting:

“No. He has not called, a staffer’s called but no, he’s not called. Look, the second amendment didn't kill anybody; evil, radical Islam, ISIS, they killed. We have got to start standing up for this country. This is our country. We have to say, we’re gonna vet people before they come into our country. If you disagree with what with what our country believes in, why in the living daylights are you allowed in our country? We have 49 people dead. Dead. Murdered, right here. 43 people in the hospital. I was at the hospital last night - still having surgeries. They're not sure they're going to live. When do we stop this?”

On his call with former President George W. Bush following the shooting:

“Well he said he and Laura were praying for us and anything he could do he’d love to be helpful.”

On his call with presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump regarding the shooting:

“He called. He called to just ask how I was doing, say you know like everybody else is praying for us.”On whether he will be given background information on any Syrian refugees coming to Florida:

“After the Paris attacks I was on a call with the White House and I said, will you share vetting information from anybody that comes into our state - you're going to send to my state and they said no.”

“The White House said they will not share that information with the Florida law enforcement. They said, oh, that -- those people have privacy rights. What about our security rights? The  security and making sure if you live in my state, you’re gonna be safe. I’m responsible for the safety of the people in my state. I’m fed up with the fact that we’re not destroying ISIS. We’re not vetting these people; we’re not taking care of our own citizens.”

On the importance of naming the enemy:

“Here's the deal. If not now, when are we going to take this seriously? This is an attack on Orlando, a gay nightclub, it’s an attack on gays, an attack on Hispanics and our country. When are we going to say enough is enough and say we are going to absolutely destroy ISIS, we're going to stop the evil of radical Islam. We’ve got to at some point, is 49 enough? How many more can there be?”

On meeting with the families of victims:

“I met with a mom that knew her son bled to death. Somebody in Pulse, the gay nightclub, was there when he bled to death. She believes her son was a hero. I talked to a dad, who didn’t want to talk about his son that he lost; he said this has to stop. We have to think about how we're going to share information, how we're going to destroy ISIS. I mean, the stories – I talked to a family who thought their son was dead and just found out he was alive. I talked to a young man that has three gunshot wounds in his back and he just feels so lucky and his family that he’s alive.”

- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott on assault weapons: 'The Second Amendment didn't kill people. Evil killed people'

Scott on Fox 613For the third consecutive day, Gov. Rick Scott made the rounds of the national television cameras Tuesday in the make-shift village of satellite trucks and pop-up tents that have been erected just blocks away from the site of the Orlando massacre.

But as the debate continues over how to prevent another mass shooting -- and whether laws need to change to keep assault weapons out of the hands of the deranged -- Scott directed the blame at ''radical Islam" and deflected questions about tightening weapons laws.

"We've had the Second Amendment for over 200 years,'' Scott told the Miami Herald after interviews with CBS News and Telemundo. "What's changed is we have radical Islam. We have ISIS. This country's got to get serious about destroying ISIS, get serious about destroying radical Islam, vetting people better. We've got to share that information better with our local law enforcement community. The Second Amendment didn't kill anybody. Radical Islam. ISIS. They're the ones doing this.

"So our federal government has got to take this seriously and say enough's enough. We've had 49 people killed. They targeted gays. They targeted the Hispanic community. They've got to say this isn't going to happy again in our country.

"What decisions need to be made to make that happen?,'' Scott was asked.

"Get the federal government to focus on destroying ISIS. If you focus on something you absolutely get it done,'' he replied. 

"Do you think people should be arming themselves with more assault weapons?,'' we asked.

"The Second Amendment didn't kill people. Evil killed people,'' he said.

Photo: Rick Scott speaks to FoxTV reporter Bill Hemmer in Orlando near the site of the Pulse shootings.

June 13, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott activates Florida Disaster Fund to help victims, families of Orlando shooting


Florida Gov. Rick Scott has activated the Florida Disaster Fund to provide financial support to organizations that will help victims of Sunday's shooting massacre and their families.

"We are committed to ensuring that every resource is available to help those in need following yesterday’s horrific terror attack in Orlando," Scott said in a statement. "Since the attack, we have seen Floridians unite together and our state has received an incredible outpouring of prayers and support. Activating the Florida Disaster Fund will give individuals across the country the opportunity to assist survivors and the loved ones of the victims. We will continue to work together in the coming days to do all we can to help this community heal."

The fund is the state's official private fund to help communities respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters. Scott's office said 100 percent of funds raised will go toward those in need. Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and are tax deductible.

Contributions can be made by credit card online at www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or by check to: Volunteer Florida Foundation, Attention: Florida Disaster Fund, 3800 Esplanade Way Suite 180, Tallahassee, FL  32311.

Checks should be made payable to the "Volunteer Florida Foundation" and should include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line.

For more information, email info@volunteerflorida.org or call (850) 414-7400.

Gov. Rick Scott speaks with former President Bush on Orlando shooting

In Orlando, Gov. Rick Scott received a phone call Monday morning from former President George W. Bush, his office announced. Scott's official Twitter account said:

"Thank you President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush for your call today. We appreciate your prayers."

Scott's office confirmed Monday that he has not heard from President Barack Obama since the massacre occurred. The president said at the White House Sunday that he has spoken with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

The president said Sunday: "This morning I spoke with my good friend, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and I conveyed the condolences of the entire American people.  This could have been any one of our communities.  So I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help he and the people of Orlando need -- they are going to get it.  As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and for all the days to come."

Orlando shooting: Gov. Rick Scott requests federal emergency declaration


Following Sunday's deadly nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida Gov. Rick Scott this morning requested that President Barack Obama issue an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act "so that the full resources of the federal government can be made available for all those impacted by this horrific massacre."

"Yesterday’s terror attack was an attack on our state and entire nation," Scott said in a statement.

"I have remained in constant communication with federal, state and local law enforcement. I have spoken with our hospitals who are caring for those who are wounded and recovering. I have also been in contact with some of the victims’ families to let them know we are grieving with them and will be there for them every step of the way," Scott said. "Our state is mourning, but the Orlando community is strong. We are all coming together, and we will get through this together. I ask every American to continue to pray for our state and nation and all those affected by this terror attack."

Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera added: "We are devastated, angry and disgusted by the horrifying act of domestic terrorism that took place here in our state. I have been on the ground in Orlando, and the sense of community and love we see here is proof that we are a resilient people. We as Americans have shown and will continue to show that we cannot and will not be intimidated into changing our way of life by evil. The State of Florida has offered all resources available, and will continue to be in constant contact with all agencies involved. Our prayers are with those and their families devastated by last night’s act of terror, and we will be doing everything possible to support."

In a two-page letter to the White House and FEMA, Scott specifically requested emergency assistance in the form of "provision of health and safety measures" and "management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety."

Read the request here.

June 12, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott orders flags flow at half-staff in memory of Orlando

Gov. Rick Scott ordered a state of emergency in Orange County and has ordered that flags throughout the state be flown at half-staff in memory of the Orlando shooting victims:

From Scott's order: In honor and remembrance of the victims of the act of terror committed in Orlando during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida.  The flags shall be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until sunset, Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Here is Scott's statement:

“This is clearly an act of terror that happened in Orlando this morning.  It sickens me and makes me angry. Of course, this is a time of great tragedy, and in every tragedy, there is a flood of sadness, confusion and despair. But, this is an attack on our people.  An attack on Orlando.  An attack on Florida.  An attack on America.  An attack on all of us. 

“We still have a lot of questions that are unanswered. Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of everyone touched by this senseless tragedy. I want to urge the people of our state to pray for the victims, families of those who have been killed and wounded.  Pray for our city, state and country.

“We are a great state.  We are a diverse state and we have wonderful people here in Florida that will respond with dignity, strength and fortitude in the days ahead.

“To the people who did this or may be thinking about doing something similar: you don't want to commit an act of terror in our state.  In Florida, our justice system is swift and our penalties are severe.  We are at a 45-year crime low and proud to be a safe state for our 20 million residents and 100 million tourists.

“While our hearts are broken for the injuries and the loss of life that occurred here early this morning, I have every confidence that the Orlando community will come together and heal. We are a strong and resilient state.  We have declared a state of emergency in Orange County to ensure all resources are made available to handle this tragic incident.  We will also devote every and all available resources to help the city of Orlando heal.”

June 10, 2016

Activists blast Gov. Rick Scott and AG Pam Bondi for failing to condemn Trump's 'racist' comments

GOP 2016 TrumpDemocratic activists on Thursday blasted Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi Thursday for failing to condemn Donald Trump for what they consider "racist" comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel and urged them to refrain from using taxpayer dollars to travel to Tampa to appear on stage with the presumptive Republican nominee on Saturday.

"We understand it takes all the efforts of our taxpayer dollars to mobilize and move around our elected officials and when you stand up with those...who have been involved in racist comments, that speaks volumes,'' said Derrick McRae, pastor of The Experience Christian Center in Orlando in a call with reporters. "We should not be using state funds to help push a racist comment or a racist platform."

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Delray Beach, said he was especially outraged that Bondi and Scott, who were elected to uphold the laws of Florida, have refused to distance themselves from the comments or demand a public apology from Trump.

"As a Republican partisan, Pam Bondi has every right to support these raciest views; she has every right to participate in conference calls with the campaign,'' Deutch said. But as "the attorney general for one of our countries most diverse states she's got a moral obligation to...denounce the statements as Republican leaders across the country have done."

Bondi and Scott are scheduled to appear Saturday at an 11 a.m. rally with Trump at the Tampa Convention Center. Neither has criticized Trump for comments suggesting that because Curiel is of Mexican descent he could not be fair in his treatment of the pending lawsuit about the now-defunct Trump University. Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.

After repeatedly citing Curiel’s ethnicity, Trump said Tuesday that his comments questioning whether a federal judge was biased because of his Mexican heritage have been “misconstrued” and that he didn’t mean to impugn the American justice system with his complaints or Mexican-Americans in general.

Immigration activist Maria Rodriguez also called out Helen Aguirre Ferré, a member of the board of trustees of Miami Dade College who was recently hired as Hispanic communications director of the Republican National Committee, for her failure to distance herself from Trump's comments.

"It's very disappointing to see Helen Aguirre Ferré use her name legitimize this very divisive campaign,'' she said. "It sanitizes the hate and divisiveness of this speech."

Rodriguez accused Trump of "successfully divided and bullied his way to the Republican nomination" and done it "through coded and blatant attacks on latinos."

Chastising Aguirre Ferré, she said, "it's a huge contradiction to serve in a Hispanic-serving institution and turn your back on the students who are being attacked by this candidate."

Aguirre Ferré told the Miami Herald she sees her role as  "in support of all the Republican candidates."

She has publicly criticized Trump in the past with #NeverTrump tweets, where she called him crazy and criticized Trump for inciting violence at his Chicago rally. Last month she told Univisión’s Al Punto Florida, “I do think there’s something that bothers him about strong and independent women.” She has since deleted her critical Trump tweets.

Rodriguez said she was "not surprised by Attorney General Bondi. "She has used every opportunity to undermine immigrant families and supported attacks on their families" by using tax money to file action aimed at blocking President Obama's executive order on immigration.

Deutch, a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said Scott should "make it very clear the citizens of Florida should expect the governor of our state, our diverse state, who has endorsed Donald Trump, that he will rescind the endorsement until he apologizes and makes clear he will support a legal system that works for all Americans."

Photo: FILE - In this May 26, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage.Brennan Linsley AP


Gov. Rick Scott selects members for Opa-locka emergency board

Gov. Rick Scott has named members to an emergency financial board to oversee finances of the city of Opa-locka, a Miami-Dade city in the midst of major financial problems and a corruption scandal.

The advisory board will include:

  • Melinda Miguel – Florida Chief Inspector General, Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
  • Christian Weiss – Policy Coordinator, Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
  • Kim Mills – Director of Auditing, Florida Housing Finance Corporation
  • Andrew Collins – Chief of Financial Monitoring and Accountability, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Angela Knecht – Program Administrator, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Marie Walker – Director of Auditing, Florida Department of Revenue
  • J.D. Patterson, Jr. – Former Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department (Retired)
  • Vernita Nelson – Assistant City Manager, City of Miami Gardens
  • Frank Rollason – City Manager, North Bay Village


June 06, 2016

Donald Trump, Rick Scott's jobs agency led PolitiFact Florida fact-checks in May

Gov. Rick Scott relishes the opportunity to promote Florida and try luring companies away from other states.

In May, the Republican took his job poaching tour to California. His jobs agency, Enterprise Florida, produced a radio ad attacking California, which is led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, for hiking the minimum wage.

Our fact-check of a claim in the ad about the wage hike was one of our most read fact-checks in May. Other fact-checks that drew in readers focused on claims about the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and by candidates vying to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Here’s a look at PolitiFact Florida’s most clicked fact-checks in May, counting down to the most popular.