Exactly how many Republican governors have found themselves embroiled in various scandals this year? It’s getting tough to count, but there’s New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. That doesn’t even include former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who’s facing corruption charges.
And then there’s Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), in the middle of one of the nation’s most competitive gubernatorial races, who’s suddenly found himself in the middle of three unrelated controversies.
Issue #1 came up last week, when the Republican governor was accused of coercing on-duty police officers to play the role of political props at a campaign event. (I hope everyone caught his unintentionally amusing response.)
Issue #2 came up yesterday, when Scott was accused of personally profiting from a gas pipeline he supported.
Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades. […]In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission – a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that’s to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando.Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state’s third major natural gas pipeline.
What wasn’t known at the time is that Scott owned a stake in Spectra Energy, which was chosen to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. The governor’s team insists the investment was made through a blind trust, though there are unanswered questions about when the shares were acquired and just how blind that trust really is.
All of which sets the table for Issue #3.
All Aboard Florida is the ostensibly private rail project running from Orlando to Miami that is supported by Governor Rick Scott. But initially it won’t be going that far. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the passenger rail service will initially run only between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in late 2016.Back in February it was reported that Scott’s decision to spend more than $200 million in state money on a train depot at Orlando International Airport to connect with All Aboard Florida would benefit the company that once employed his current chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth.A new story in the Naples News by reporter Matt Dixon over the weekend pushed that story further, saying Hollingsworth was able to influence Scott into rejecting the $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for that high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando, in order to support the project that would benefit Hollingsworth’s former company, Parallel Infrastructure.
Recent polling suggests Scott’s re-election bid is effectively tied with former Gov. Charlie Crist (D). The election is this fall.