It should be a universal assumption in Florida by now. If Rick Scott is willingly in front of a camera and it doesn't involve questioning from reporters, it's likely for his benefit in some way. When the Governor officially requests your presence, most people are willing to step up and are sometimes even obliged to do so.
It makes sense that teachers would honor a request for an interview if he's considering them for a Florida Teacher of the Year Award. So it's one thing to submit to such an interview knowing that you're there for the purpose of being considered as a great teacher and a candidate for an award, but it's another when the Governor's reelection campaign uses video of those same interviews instead for a reelection campaign ad, and yet another when they do so without informing those teachers what they're actually using them for.
But that's exactly what Scott did:
A least some candidates for Florida Teacher of the Year didn't realize the video interviews they gave during a reception at the governor's mansion would be used in a political advertisement for Gov. Rick Scott - and one called it inappropriate...[snip]
The videographer, a governor's office employee, "asked us different questions and said the video would be used for different things throughout the governor's office," said Megan Williamson, a fourth-grade teacher from Okeechobee. "I wasn't told I was going to be in a political ad."
Williamson, a Republican, said she wouldn't have minded even if she had known the video would be used in a political ad for Scott.
"I think he's gotten the state back on track," she said. "I appreciate his concern for education."
But Apryl Shackelford, a middle school teacher from Duval County, wasn't pleased when she learned from a reporter she was featured in video urging Scott's re-election.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to be in any political ad, Democrat or Republican" as a statewide teacher of the year finalist, she said. "It's inappropriate for me to speak for 8,000 teachers" in Duval County. "I can't say what party they should choose."
This certainly isn't the first time Rick Scott has used others as campaign or photo-op props, especially when it comes to education. Scott has used school children as props, the first time as he made severe cuts to education, using them as backdrops in his budget signing ceremony, and another when he put a sliver of those cuts back into the budget to curry favor from voters who were outraged by the cuts in the first place. Further, he used education as campaign fodder again when he went out on his "Teacher Pay Raise Victory Tour" recently. Those "raises" weren't exactly what he promised, and as one educator put it: "The math simply does not add up."
As is often the case, promises made by Rick Scott don't always add up, and math isn't exactly his strong suit.
But when it comes to deception in the Teacher Of The Year interview videos suddenly turning up in campaign ads, Scott says that's not his doing. No sir:
"A state employee on state time took this video at a state event and it was sent out publicly to the press and to all our email lists," said Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz. "After that anyone can do anything they want with it."
Scott's office disclaimed responsibility for making the ad, which was posted on YouTube by the state Republican Party. Representatives from Scott's office and the state Department of Education said the party used video distributed by the governor's office as a news release, but without any coordination with the governor's office.
See? It was in no way coordinated with the state Republican Party, who at the moment do little else but campaign for Scott's reelection, and as the most unpopular governor in the country, he needs all the help he can get. Right now the RPOF is the reelect Rick Scott campaign.
But sure, this has nothing to do with Rick Scott's conducting those teacher interviews on video.
Just like those Scott chooses to bestow his Great Floridian Awards upon has nothing to do with the size of the checks they write to his reelection campaign fund.