Almost a year ago, Rick Scott went to California to see a lawyer about some emails, because those emails may have proven what many in Florida already expected: That Scott was violating public records laws, or what we aptly call Sunshine Laws. He was especially hasty in doing so because he was running for reelection. His trip was a success at the time, because it kept the emails out of the public eye, or at least long enough to keep them secret prior to the election. That all changed in May of this year, or so we'd hoped, when a judge ordered that his private email data be released. Finally some justice for Floridians who are routinely kept in the dark by Scott, right?
Earlier this month, Scott agreed to settle the lawsuit that started this whole thing and may have finally shone a light on Scott's secrecy. This came as he and his cabinet, including Attorney General Pam Bondi (yes, the Attorney General) settled over another Sunshine Law violation.
By settling, Scott and Bondi claimed they settled "to avoid litigation costs."
Here's what else that settlement allows them to do: say that they never broke the law.
And if you aren't already outraged enough by that, pause here for a moment and take a nice deep breath.
By "saving litigation costs," Scott "agreed" to pay $700,000 to settle the lawsuit, an amount that grew by another $300,000 just as I was writing this post.
So we have Scott and his cabinet violating Sunshine Laws, using legal maneuvers to keep it all private, losing in those efforts, then settling by paying a huge amount in legal fees, all for the privilege of laughably saying "Hey, we never broke the law!"
So yes, Scott and Bondi should pay, right? Ah, but wait, there's more. That money isn't coming out of their pockets. It's coming out of yours, and here's the kicker: You still don't get to see what was in those emails.
Furthermore, guess where some of those taxpayer dollars will come from? The Department of Environmental Protection. You know, the agency that was supposed to be spending funds on environmental restoration per Amendment 1 that Floridians overwhelmingly voted for last year.
This is all added to the over $1 million taxpayers already spent over the lawsuits.
No Florida governor, I repeat, none, have ever been caught doing this much damage in the dark, nor has any ever cost the taxpayers anything for doing so.
For a guy who ran as the King Of Fiscal Conservatism, and who routinely says we "can't afford" things like Medicaid and decent transportation even when the federal government is handing funds to him to cover it, he sure finds imaginative ways to waste taxpayer dollars.
Scott and Bondi have wasted taxpayer money on unsuccessful lawsuits AGAINST TAXPAYERS over drug testing welfare recipients, trying to block the Affordable Care Act, trying to block women from getting contraception, blocking Medicaid, then suing to get funds FOR Medicaid, blocking gay marriage and adoption, and joined lawsuits to back polluters and power companies in their efforts to further destroy the air we breath and the water we drink. And that's just part of the list, which doesn't even include all their taxpayer funded witch hunts and political PR stunts, like voter purges, going after Planned Parenthood for something they never do, and "investigating" Stand Your Ground Laws with NRA donation beneficiaries who conclude "its all good, carry on."
Rick Scott is a very rich man who can well afford to pay his own legal bills, even as large and growing as as his are. He bought himself the office of governor not once, but twice. He's also the first governor in Florida's history to have a blind trust, and while Floridians are kept in the dark there as well, we do know he has ties to a pipeline that his DEP has given approval to. If, and I use that term loosely, if Scott is enriching himself through other legislation and projects he signs off on, we'll likely never know. He loves to brag that he doesn't accept a salary as governor, but let's face it, he isn't in the job simply because he loves sticking it to the poor. Sure, that seems to be a big incentive for him, but he's gone way beyond that by hurting just about everyone else in Florida, and making them pay for it in more ways than merely financially.
For anyone to ignore the glaring problem here, they would have to believe Scott's either incredibly incompetent, or he's abusing his power like no governor before him has. Given that he ran a company that broke the record for Medicare fraud before he became governor, walked away without being charged, but still sailed away with a huge golden parachute for his trouble, well, you be the judge.
And while reporters tried once again to ask Scott questions about this enormous news dump, they found as always that he wasn't available for comment, because of course he wasn't.
As Floridians were learning of this new bill they'll be paying for his violations of their rights, he's conveniently away on a family vacation. In France.
How are you spending your summer vacation?