The ever evasive Gov. Rick Scott

Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, is gaining a reputation for evasiveness.  He has made his way onto Anderson Cooper’s Ridiculist after failing to answer questions about why public employees were participating in one of his campaign activities:

Scott recently appeared at a campaign stop in Tampa with police officers in uniform lined up behind him. However, it is illegal for public employees to participate in campaign activities while on duty or in uniform. A police union official has filed a state complaint against Scott, accusing him of coercing on-duty officers to attend his event.

It was just a “bite-sized brouhaha,” Cooper said, but Scott’s refusal to answer questions about the incident was what landed him on Tuesday night’s “RidicuList.” Instead of actually answering the questions, Scott repeatedly said that he is “proud” that 40 sheriffs have endorsed him and that he is “appreciative” of the support from law enforcement.

Florida law states

{…} it’s a first-degree misdemeanor for a public official to “directly or indirectly coerce” any employee to engage in political activity, and employees are prohibited from doing so while working.

So yes, why was he accompanied by on-duty officers?  What’s his answer?  His campaign spokesperson didn’t address the issue:

“This is just another sad distraction from Charlie Crist’s numerous ethical problems, including his broken promise to be transparent by releasing tax returns for both himself and his spouse,”{…}

The Governor is facing a complaint issued by a police union official over the matter.  

The complaint was filed by Jeff Marano of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union supporting Scott’s leading Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. Marano is president of the PBA’s Broward County chapter.

The members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office who attended the campaign event claim they didn’t know it was a campaign event:

“We obviously didn’t know we were going to a campaign event,” said Hillsborough Col. Jim Previtera. “Had we known it was a campaign event, we wouldn’t have been there.”

Strangely enough, another Scott supporter, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri  has stated that he knew this was a political event:

“It was unequivocally clear to me that this was purely a political event,” Gualtieri said. “I knew what I was going into … Where the communication broke down, I don’t know, but it didn’t break down with me.”

Gualtieri said Scott’s campaign even asked him for his private email address to avoid using a government email account for political purposes.

As an elected official, Gualtieri is exempt from the ban on public employees attending campaign events during working hours.

If Gualtieri knew this was a political event, it seems questionable that Previtara did not know. At this point, Governor Scott’s campaign has not addressed this issue. Hence his place on the Ridiculist.

Added to that, his reluctance to address the issue of climate change, answering only that he’s “not a scientist”.   Well, I’ve got a simple solution to that:  listen to what the scientists tell you, and they are trying to talk to you:

“We note you have been asked several times about how, as governor, you will handle the issue of climate change,” the scientists wrote in a two-page letter to Scott. “You responded that you are ‘not a scientist.’ We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.”

Scott initially denied the impact of human-induced global warming when he first ran for office in 2010, saying he has “not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change.” He has since been reluctant to engage on the issue, answering only, “I’m not a scientist,” when asked about it.

I’m not a scientist.  When it comes to a subject like climate change, I do have to trust that the individuals who have logged countless hours studying this subject know what the fuck they’re talking about and have the evidence to back it up.  

Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.
“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) team.

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. Gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, Edenhofer said, but only if it replaced coal burning.

The authoritative report, produced by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to wars and mass migration.


If you listen to the authorities on the subject (and you should; this is not an example of the logical fallacy known as the appeal to authority because these are the authorities in the relevant field of climate science), it is clear that climate change is real, and a humans bear a great deal of responsibility for the effects of climate change.  Governor Scott has not wanted to listen to scientists though.  He has sought to evade the matter.  A group of scientists from University of Miami, Florida State, Florida International, and Eckerd College would like the opportunity to convince the Governor:

“Florida is one of the most vulnerable places in the country with respect to climate change, with southeastern Florida of particular concern,” the scientists wrote. “This is not a hypothetical. Thousands of scientists have studied the issue from a variety of angles and disciplines over many decades.

“Those of us signing this letter have spent hundreds of years combined studying this problem, not from any partisan political perspective, but as scientists — seekers of evidence and explanations.”


Jeff Chanton, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, hand-delivered the letter to Scott’s Capitol office.

“This is not a ‘save the earth’ message,” he said. “This is about the continued comfort and amiability of civilization, or human beings.”

“I just want him to understand what the situation is — and put it in a historical, million-year context, about what the greenhouse gas history is,” Chanton said.

He explained that ice core records offer a multimillion-year history of the Earth’s CO2 levels. During the Ice Age, temperatures went through vast extremes but the CO2 levels didn’t vary more than 100 parts per million — between 180 ppm to 280 ppm.

“When the CO2 l
evels rose, the temperatures rose” and water that was stored as ice melted to raise the level of the oceans, he said. “Today, CO2 levels are up to 400 — might we be concerned about the temperature changes?

“It’s not rocket science,” Chanton said. “I can explain it. Give me half an hour.”

The letter was also signed by: Andrew Bakun and Kenny Broad, professors of marine ecosystems and society at the University of Miami; David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College; Ben Kirtman, professor of physical sciences and engineering at the University of Miami; Thomas J. Morgan, assistant in medicine, College of Medicine, Florida State University; John Parker, professor of environmental science and chemistry at Florida International University; Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami; John Van Leer, professor of ocean sciences at the University of Miami, and Harold Wanless, professor of geological sciences at the University of Miami.

The full text of the letter can be found here.



The ever evasive Gov. Rick Scott

2 thoughts on “The ever evasive Gov. Rick Scott

  1. 1

    I think there was a Daily Show segment or maybe it was Maddow where they went over how, “I am not a scientist” has become conservative’s new way of “Aw, shucks, I’m just a regular person”. Of course, reporters never ask the obvious — Then why don’t you listen to the scientists?

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