What do Republican Governors Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Snyder of Michigan have in common? Turns out quite a lot.
They both despise local control and transparency. They both swear by running the government like a business through privatization, and they do, to the detriment of their state's and the people who live there, among other things.
But Rick Scott has an added "bonus." He has a blind trust.
While it may be "blind" to his constituents, for the most part, some information about his investments have still found their way into the news. He was known before to have investment ties to a natural gas pipeline in the planning for Florida that was unanimously approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, whose members Scott appointed.
Now, the Florida Bulldog has uncovered another previously unnoticed investment tie Scott has to an oncology company that just happened to win an unprecedented no-bid contract with one of the states largest taxpayer supported health care systems. That no-bid contract is for an eyebrow-raising 25 years:
An oncology company financially connected to Gov. Rick Scott got a no-bid contract four years ago from taxpayer-supported Broward Health for as long as 25 years – an unprecedented term.
Scott was an investor in a private equity firm that owns 21st Century Oncology, state records show. The Fort Myers-based cancer care company got the contract in 2012 to supply radiation oncology services to Broward’s biggest public health system.
The value and language of the contract with 21st Century Oncology are not known. The hospital system’s lawyers denied a public records request by FloridaBulldog.org for a copy of the contract.
The North Broward Hospital District, Broward Health’s legal name, is and was at the time run by an all-Republican board of commissioners appointed by the governor. Gov. Scott, who took office in January 2011, is a Republican. He was re-elected in 2014.
“This is news to me,” said Commission Chairman David Di Pietro, who seemed stunned last week when told of the governor’s indirect ownership interest in 21st Century Oncology, a contract he voted to approve. “In 2012 I was unaware of that, and I have no further comment at this time.”
Broward Health awarded the contract, with an initial term of 10 years and three separate five-year renewal options, to 21st Century Oncology after deciding to outsource its day-to-day business of providing radiation treatment services for cancer patients.
“In all my years I’ve never heard of a contract for that duration, especially at a tax-supported system like Broward Health,” said Florida International University healthcare professor Sal Barbera, a former hospital CEO who blew the whistle on Medicare fraud by Tenet Healthcare Corp. in 1997.
Naturally, Scott denies any knowledge of this, while the hospital system refuses to make public a copy of that contract, citing an exemption in Florida’s public records law that protects some hospital records from competitors.
How convenient it is to run government like a business, especially with state laws that can turn out to be profitable when you're "blindly" invested.
This brings us to another thing Rick Scott shares in common with Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder:
Less than transparent no-bid contracts.
Snyder, as it's well known by now, installed emergency managers in his state to block local control, and then those emergency managers in Flint switched water systems to save money and subsequently poisoned a majority of the citizens there with lead. And while Snyder has famously been doing little about it so far, he does have a few plans in the works for the future.
Transparency was something Gov. Rick Snyder crowed about during his first election campaign. He issued a white paper titled “Create A Culture Of Ethics In Michigan’s Government” in which he said, “As Governor, I will ensure that government is open, fair, and accountable to the citizens by making Michigan a national leader in transparency and ethics.” All of that sounds good, of course, but he has been a demonstrable failure when it comes to transparency in his administration.
The latest blow to transparency comes, once again, in relation to the Flint water crisis. The Snyder administration has hired the firm Rowe Professional Services “to study Flint’s water distribution system and replace 30 lead service lines as a pilot project.” The contract was awarded to Rowe as a no-bid contract; no other companies were given the opportunity to bid on it.
Deceiving the public while claiming to be all about transparency is, of course, so much easier to do when you dodge questions from the media and the public, something else both Scott and Snyder have mastered down to an art form.