Standing on the entrance porch of the Governor’s Mansion, candidate Rick Scott accused “unethical liberals” of plotting to steal a U.S. Senate seat from him to avoid wasting Democrat Invoice Nelson’s cover.
An alert calling reporters to a Thursday night time announcement got here from Scott’s Senate marketing campaign, not his state workplace. The place: the official state residence, a taxpayer-funded web site historically off-limits to all partisan political exercise.
But it surely was clearly Governor Rick Scott who moments later requested the state legislation enforcement company below his management to analyze Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes’ operation, although he didn’t provide extra specifics.
No candidate can hope to drag off such a request. However when the Herald/Instances requested Scott’s workplace for extra particulars, his spokesman directed inquiries to Scott’s Senate marketing campaign, which didn’t reply Friday.
Because it seems, there isn’t a investigation. Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger mentioned Scott didn’t submit his request in writing, and that no allegation of voter fraud in Broward has been despatched to the Division of State, which oversees elections.
“We do not need an lively investigation,” Plessinger mentioned.
Snipes has been criticized repeatedly for errors which have included opening ballots earlier than polls closed and destroying ballots that ought to have been preserved. Scott went additional Thursday, with allegations of “rampant fraud.”
Criticism rained down on Scott for making an attempt to attract FDLE, an impartial legislation enforcement company, right into a political controversy and an election recount.
Some mentioned it was an abuse of his authority as governor. It was not the primary time that Scott has been accused of politicizing the state legislation enforcement equipment.
“It isn’t applicable for the governor of any state to recommend he’s going to make use of the powers of the state as governor to interject his legislation enforcement authority to forestall the counting of ballots which have been lawfully forged, particularly in an election wherein he stands,” mentioned Marc Elias, a lawyer for Nelson in upcoming political and authorized battles over obligatory statewide recounts. “It might be extremely inappropriate and I can guarantee you that we’ll take all the mandatory steps in court docket [to protect Nelson].”
“It’s absurd, truthfully,” mentioned Cynthia Busch, chairwoman of the Broward Democratic Celebration. “He’s primarily threatening the supervisor of elections in Broward County and making an attempt to undermine her capability to do her work and rely the ballots which can be excellent.”
Hal Valeche, a Palm Seaside County commissioner and a Republican, mentioned Scott acted appropriately to defend the integrity of the election. However the commissioner mentioned it could assist if Scott would offer proof that helps his allegations of “rampant fraud” within the Broward and Palm Seaside elections workplaces.
Scott “is in a really powerful spot,” Valeche mentioned. “He has a accountability to guarantee that the legal guidelines of Florida are adopted, but in addition the result impacts him. I feel he’s all the time tried to do the precise factor for Florida. I wouldn’t suppose his personal private curiosity on this would have an effect on how he acts as governor.”
Three years in the past, Scott, with out rationalization, demanded the resignation of a former FDLE commissioner, Gerald Bailey, with no public dialogue or vote, though Bailey reported to the governor and the three elected Cupboard members.
Earlier than a public vote could possibly be held, Scott selected a senior FDLE official, Rick Swearingen, as commissioner, a choice later ratified in public.
Swearingen remains to be in cost at FDLE. He didn’t reply to a request for remark Friday.
Scott apologized in 2016 for dismissing Bailey and following a lawsuit by many Florida information organizations, he and the Cupboard adopted modifications to make hiring, firing and evaluations of company heads extra clear.
Former Democratic state Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale accused Scott of political grandstanding in a “Trump-like” method, and mentioned his actions echoed these of Brian Kemp. The Republican nominee for Georgia governor used his energy as Secretary of State to affect the voting course of in a race wherein he was a candidate (Kemp resigned as Secretary of State on Thursday).
Herald/Instances workers author Samantha Gross contributed to this report.