March 01, 2017

How Trump's speech echoed Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- President Trump’s speech last night can be viewed through three of Florida’s top political figures: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

First there was Trump’s passage about Obamacare.

“We should give our state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out," he said.

That could be lifted directly from Scott’s talking points from several recent trips to Washington. Scott says the state could more effectively design ways to use the funding. Scott in 2013 backed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare but was blocked by the House and then said he was against expansion, followed by calls for flexibility.

Next there was Trump’s call for “merit-based” immigration. As a senator and presidential candidate, Rubio has called for a major shift from family-based immigration to that based on what a person can contribute economically.

"Today, we have a legal immigration system for permanent residency that is largely based on whether or not you have a relative living here. And that’s the way my parents came legally in 1956,” Rubio said in an October 2015 presidential debate.

“But in 2015, we have a very different economy. Our legal immigration system from now on has to be merit-based. It has to be based on what skills you have, what you can contribute economically, and most important of all, on whether or not you’re coming here to become an American, not just live in America, but be an American.”

Bush as a cadidate also talked about a shift that rewards people with work skills rather than the family-based immigration system in place.

Finally, Trump spoke of education, calling it “the civil rights issue of our time.” He said: "I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”

That’s straight from Bush’s playbook. Making the tie even stronger, Trump pointed to a young woman in the audience, Denisha Merriweather, a Jacksonville woman who benefited from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. It was Bush who first highlighted her story and Merriweather appeared on the campaign trail with him.

“We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha,” Trump said.

On Twitter, Bush wrote:

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Jim Lo Scalzo, pool photo via Associated Press

Rick Scott hits road again to defend Enterprise Florida, stop planned for Hialeah



Gov. Rick Scott is showing no signs of letting up on Florida House Republicans who continue to vote in committees for a bill that would destroy two of his most cherished agencies.

Fresh from Washington D.C., Scott is heading to Orange Park today for a rally about the importance of Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida to Clay County and the Jacksonville area. He’ll just happen to be in the district of Rep. W. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, one of 17 House Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee who voted last week for a bill that would completely kill Enterprise Florida and decimate Visit Florida.

On Thursday Scott is expected to follow that visit up in Hialeah talking up those programs at a restaurant that nearly straddles the districts of Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, and Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah. Both Diaz and Oliva voted for the same bill that would eliminate Enterprise Florida.

Scott’s trip comes just two weeks after he went from district to district of Republican House members who voted on the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee for a similar bill to kill Enterprise Florida. In each of his stops in places like Tampa, Panama City, Flagler Beach and Brevard County, he called out House Republicans by name and accused them of turning their back on the economic progress Florida has made since he was elected.

February 28, 2017

Fact-checking the war between Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran over Enterprise Florida



Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are locked in battle over the future of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida ahead of the legislative session.

Scott sees the agencies for tourism and business development as essential to his jobs agenda, but Corcoran says they're a waste of money. The House plan would abolish Enterprise Florida and dramatically reduce Visit Florida's spending.

Is the state wasting money? The truth is somewhere in between.

Both leaders have released videos to make their case. Each side misses context and misrepresents the facts.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

February 27, 2017

Rick Scott hangs out with Donald Trump in Washington

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- In Tallahassee, a battle looms with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, but here, Gov. Rick Scott has had a remarkable few days.

On Friday Scott was elected vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Saturday, he had lunch with President Trump and watched "La La Land" at the White House then went out to dinner with commander-in-chief at Trump International Hotel.

Sunday night, Scott was taking selfies with Ivanka Trump at the White House Governors’ Ball.

“For a guy that grew up in public housing, to be able to have lunch at the White House and watch a movie at the White House and then go to dinner with the president, it’s pretty amazing,” Scott told reporters Monday afternoon.

Amid the socializing, Scott said he spoke with Trump about getting rid of Obamacare, deeming it an “absolute mess.” He again called for flexibility with Medicaid.

“We have a mess and we’ve got to fix it. We can’t be wobbly kneed, we can’t say, ‘Oh gosh how are we going to do this?’ We’ve got to repeal and replace Obamacare," Scott declared.

But that job is proving more difficult for Republicans, some who have shifted from talk of a repeal to mending the Affordable Care Act. Combative town hall meetings this month have put lawmakers on the defensive.

Scott said Trump, who has said he'll soon reveal a plan, mainly listened to ideas.

Scott also met Monday with Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, respectively the secretaries of education and transportation. 

His Washington adventure continues Tuesday when Scott will be on Capitol Hill then attend Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott: 'Great to see Ivanka Trump last night'

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott tweeted a photo Monday morning of him and Ivanka Trump from Sunday night's Governors' Ball at the White House.

Scott, who had lunch with President Trump on Saturday, remains in Washington. This morning he and other governors attended a meeting at the White House and at 12:30 p.m., Scott is to meet with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos followed by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Who is trying to buy access to Rick Scott?


Gov. Rick Scott (AP Photo)


Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits and cannot seek re-election, but that isn’t stopping the biggest special interest groups from continuing to load up his political action committee with huge checks.

A private prison operator, a sugar industry giant and a Clearwater real estate management company with ties to a major Florida insurance company, are among those who have given Scott’s Let’s Get to Work committee at least $100,000 during the first two months of 2017 and at least $250,000 each since the start of 2015.

Scott has relied on the Let’s Get to Work committee to promote his agenda around the state. He’s recently used Let’s Get to Work to fund robo calls against Florida House members, pay for videos against House leadership and fund a poll defending his job incentive programs that the Legislature has threatened to kill. He’s also used the committee to pay for an inauguration ball in Washington D.C. when President Donald Trump took office.

Scott cannot run for re-election, but he’s been considered a potential challenger for the U.S. Senate in 2018 against Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

Top 10 Donors to Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work Committee

$790,052 - Florida Chamber of Commerce
$335,000 - Associated Industries of Florida PAC 
$325,000 - U.S. Sugar Corporation, based in Clewiston
$310,000 - The Geo Group Inc - private prison operator based in Boca Raton
$277,503 - Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts
$250,000 - Skye Lane Properties, a real estate management company in Clearwater and a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance Holdings.
$250,000 - Floridians for a Stronger Democracy - a PAC with ties to Associated Industries of
$250,000 - Voice of Florida Business - a PAC with ties to Associated Industries of Florida.
$200,000 - Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning
$200,000 - Daniel Doyle Jr. & DEX Imaging - Doyle is CEO of the document imaging equipment company Tampa based

SOURCE: Florida Division of Elections

February 25, 2017

Rick Scott dined with Donald Trump at the White House


via @learyreports

Florida Gov. Rick Scott had lunch today at the White House with President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The White House called it a working lunch "to discuss how best to solve the problems of Obamacare, with a special emphasis on the states’ role in healthcare."

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio had dinner with Trump.

Scott's official daily schedule originally did not disclose the lunch. The governor's office sent a revised schedule at 5:25 p.m. indicating the meeting with Trump was at 2 p.m.

Scott then also tweeted a photo of himself in the Oval Office with the president, saying it was "great meeting with my friend @realDonaldTrump today on reinventing great health care in our nation!"

-- with Kristen M. Clark contributing

Photo credit: @FLGovScott

February 23, 2017

Fact-checking Gov. Rick Scott's defense of Enterprise Florida


Florida Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are at war over the future of state agencies that promote tourism and provide corporate incentives to recruit jobs.

In an unusual venting session with reporters in Tallahassee on Feb. 7, Scott attacked House Republicans for proposing a bill that would kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. (Since that time, Corcoran has proposed slashing Visit Florida’s budget but not kill it.)

"When the House wants to stop Enterprise Florida, they are hurting our poorest communities. They're hurting our rural communities," said Scott, a Republican.

We went in search of evidence to determine if Enterprise Florida helped rural communities. (Scott also mentioned poor communities, but that is more difficult to assess without a definition, so we set that aside for now.)

It’s possible that some of the companies offered incentive deals would have created jobs anyway. And experts told us that these job gains cited by Scott’s administration are small, even for counties with lower populations.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

February 22, 2017

Trump, Scott remain GOP superstars in Florida, AIF poll shows

Trump (10)
via @adamsmithtimes

A newly released poll of Republican primary voters in Florida provides a healthy reminder to politicos inside the Tallahassee bubble that perceptions in the real world are very different from those in and around the Capitol. And to the legislative leaders mulling a run for governor, the Associated Industries of Florida poll should be humbling: You're a nobody outside Tally. 

What's it show? That among Republican primary voters, Rick Scott and Donald Trump are rock stars, with 81 percent of Republicans approving of both the president's and the governor's  job performance.

"Even with an endless, round the clock bombardment of negative coverage in the main stream media, the base remains unfazed in their approval of the President, giving him an 81% approval rating, with 56% strongly approving of the job he is doing as President. These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise because A) these are primary voting Republicans and B) the President is only doing what he told the voters he would do," AIF's Ryan Tyson wrote of Trump, who enjoys a net 67 percent approval rating among Florida Republicans (81 percent approve and 14 percent disapprove).

"Similarly, the Governor is enjoying an identical sky high approval rating as the President but with 41% of those surveyed strongly approving of the job he is doing as Governor. In essence the Governor enters his second to last session with the highest marks from Republicans that we have tracked during his term."

Shocker. It seems flying from media market to TV market after market talking up your passion for creating jobs, is more effective than mocking the governor's conservative bona fides to a gaggle of reporters in Tallahassee every day.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is looking at running for governor in 2018, may be dominating the Tallahassee press corps coverage and taking shots at Scott day after day, but a mere 16 percent of Florida Republicans have a positive view of the Land O'Lakes Republican, and 24 percent have no opinion.

Continue reading "Trump, Scott remain GOP superstars in Florida, AIF poll shows" »

House hands Rick Scott defeat on jobs programs, tourism


TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott suffered another political setback with the Legislature.

Over the last two weeks he has toured the state, recorded campaign-style automated phone calls and penned a sharply worded letter in newspapers statewide to pressure fellow Republicans in the Florida House to back off of a bill that would eliminate the state agency that has been at the center of his job creation efforts.

It didn't work.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee responded with a rejection of the Republican governor's agenda. It voted 18-12 to kill Enterprise Florida and decimate Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency that Scott credits with helping the state set tourism records for six straight years. Seventeen of the 20 Republicans on the committee voted for the bill.

"It all comes down to: Is this the purpose of government?" said House budget chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami.

Trujillo said with all of the other state needs, the government should not be taking money from taxpayers and giving it to companies to create jobs.

His comments hit at the crux of a raging philosophical debate that has consumed state government over the past four weeks. On one side, chamber of commerce Republicans like Scott see tax incentives for companies and government marketing as critical to growing the economy. On the other side, tea party-infused groups see both programs as corporate welfare that benefits only a few companies.

Full Story Here