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Democrats feign outrage over Rick Scott using governor's office to advance his re-election

Original post | 11:46 a.m. March 27

Updated | 10:54 a.m. March 28

With Gov. Rick Scott using official events for campaign purposes, Democrats are acting like Claude Raines, in perhaps the best scene in "Casablanca."

(That’s when Raines, the police chief, says he’s “shocked, shocked” to discover gambling going on at Humphrey Bogart’s nightclub – just as the croupier approaches to deliver Raines his gambling winnings.)

Scott is acting like every politician who holds office by using his official position to stage events to benefit his campaign.

He did it Feb. 10 in Lighthouse Point, when the governor’s office arranged an event at a car dealership to tout the idea of rolling back increases in vehicle registration fees imposed during the height of the Great Recession.

Though the Lighthouse Point appearance was listed as official government business, staffed by state-paid aides and announced by his government office, attendees were recruited by the state and Broward Republican parties.

And the host for the event declared at what supposedly was an official government function that he was “"proud to be associated with Governor Scott and the Republican Party and the core values of the Republican Party, and what it stands for,” and urged the audience not to give up hope. “We're going to gain ground," he said. "We're going to take Washington back. We're going to right our country – nothing short of that."

Democrats, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, the leading candidate for the party’s nomination to run for governor against Scott, are suddenly agitated about the practice.

The Tampa Tribune reported this week that “Democrats are crying foul over a campaign ad by Gov. Rick Scott based on video of a Governor’s Office event held in Tampa last week, but Scott’s campaign denies there was any improper use of public resources for the ad.... Campaign spokesman Kevin Cate added, ‘Apparently $100 million isn’t enough. Rick Scott is now staging official visits to shoot his campaign commercials’ -- a reference to forecasts by Scott that he may spend up to $100 million on his re-election campaign.”

Funny, Democrats weren’t complaining when Crist used a Broward school as a political backdrop in 2010, as reported in this account below, and shown in the photo above.

Update:

A little amplification: a Crist representative called suggesting what the former governor did in 2010 wasn't comparable to what Scott is doing in 2014.

After seeing many, many, many political events at schools over the years, it's fair to say Crist's event was unusual. Students (given signs to wave) and teachers were praising him for taking action that unionized teachers wanted. Many students said Christ was great for schools and teachers but they didn't know why; only that their teachers had told them Crist was wonderful.

It was set up in a way that provided a television backdrop of cheering Crist supporters who just happened to be public school students.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crist plays coy on Senate run and his future in GOP

Governor indicates decision will come on April 30 deadline

By Anthony Man

Sun Sentinel

DAVIE – Gov. Charlie Crist got exactly what he hoped for Friday for his struggling U.S. Senate campaign: television images in the important Miami-Fort Lauderdale market showing him mobbed by adoring fans.

The governor made only a snippet of news, hinting as strongly as possible that he wouldn't reveal his decision about his political future until just before the deadline at noon April 30.

Crist's options: remain in the Republican primary, which political analysts don't think he can win; drop out and wait until 2012; or run as an independent, setting up a three-way contest in November.

The main point of Friday's event appeared to be providing a pro-Crist backdrop for news coverage assessing the governor's chances of salvaging his political career.

The scene at McFatter Technical Center was made for TV. Students greeted the governor like a celebrity, crowding around to get a handshake or snap a cell-phone picture. Teachers waved pro-Crist signs provided by their union.

He has become a darling to teachers - and anathema to the conservative wing of the Republican Party - in the week since he vetoed controversial legislation on merit pay for teachers.

The reception in Davie was light-years from what Crist has been getting in Tallahassee, even though the Florida capital is run by fellow Republicans. As he has been looking more and more like an independent candidate, his party has been abandoning him.

On Thursday, the state Republican Party issued a ruling that Republican committee members across the state couldn't support an independent Crist candidacy without violating their party loyalty oaths. Such committee members form the grass-roots base and get-out-the-vote operation for campaigns.

Crist said he wasn't going to be influenced by pressure on him from unhappy Republican leaders. "It doesn't impact me," he said.

Republicans have said Crist scrubbed his campaign website of references to his affiliation with the party.

That's incorrect, Crist said. "We didn't change it at all. It's the way it's always been," he said.

Several Broward School Board members, including the lone Republican, Kevin Tynan, were on hand for the Friday event.

In October, Crist appointed Tynan, a former chairman of the Broward Republican Party, to fill a vacancy on the School Board. He's is running to retain the seat in the August election.

If Crist runs as an independent, Tynan said in an interview, he won't support him.

"As an ex-party chair, it would be difficult," he said. "I can't. As much as I like the man, I can't."

The governor didn't have any comment on Tynan's position. "Is that right?"Crist said.

Speaking to reporters, the governor insisted he hasn't made up his mind, saying he has a lot to think about. He repeatedly emphasized the April 30 deadline for qualifying as a candidate, indicating his decision would come right at the deadline.

"I want to take the time to be thoughtful and deliberate in this process," he said. "I'm very excited about the future. I think It'll be a great race. The people will have clear choices and it should be good for them, first, the people."

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