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Backroom Briefing: Scott Heads for the Exits

January 11, 2019 - 6:00am
Rick Scott
Rick Scott

Former Gov. Rick Scott exited the Tallahassee stage before Tuesday’s ceremonial inauguration of his successor was finished.

Scott had plans in the partially shut-down Washington, D.C. and wasn’t there to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis praise the economic foundation he received from Scott.

For Scott, Tuesday’s plans included his own swearing-in as Florida’s junior U.S. senator. Later, his political committee hosted a black-tie optional fundraiser at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where attendees were encouraged to drop $10,000 to $100,000 --- depending on the amount of access they wanted at the “Sunshine Ball.”

The way Scott departed Tallahassee brought reports about possible bad blood between the Scott and DeSantis camps --- partly fueled by Scott’s decisions during the final days of his administration to make dozens of appointments to courts, boards and commissions. The DeSantis camp made clear the new governor will rescind at least some of the Scott appointments.

"I can confirm that we asked Scott to stop making appointments weeks ago. He ignored us," U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is close to DeSantis, said in a text message

Since the November election, when Scott made a terse public statement outside the governor’s mansion about an election recount as he battled for the U.S. Senate seat, Scott was mostly absent from Tallahassee.

He took time to send letters to each of the legislative leaders he worked with: Florida Senate presidents Mike Haridopolos, Don Gaetz, Andy Gardiner and Joe Negron and House speakers Dean Cannon, Will Weatherford, Steve Crisafulli and Richard Corcoran. The letters outlined the state’s accomplishments, with a focus on the reduction of state debt by a third.

On Monday, Scott posted a photo of himself and now former First Lady Ann Scott inside the top of the tower of the Old Capitol, where he signed his name. Later, he hosted a party at the governor’s mansion, which delayed some of the new governor’s moving plans.

Scott also scrawled a letter --- this time in blue Sharpie --- on Rick Scott Governor letterhead stating, “Florida, Serving as your Governor has been the honor of a lifetime and the best job I have ever had. I will never stop fighting for you! Rick Scott.”

The handwritten letter, sent out of the governor’s office, was accompanied by 136 pages of actions undertaken by the state since Scott took office in 2011, including tax cuts, transportation funding, changes in education and health care, growth of the Florida Lottery and tourism, a reduced crime rate, increased support for the military and responses to hurricanes Irma, Maria and Michael.


Amid all the pomp surrounding DeSantis’ inauguration, a lot was made that about the lack of a parade through Tallahassee to show off the state’s new executive and to let people hear some marching bands.

DeSantis acknowledged before the inaugural he was “a little uncomfortable” with all the different events, but the main reason he decided against a parade was that he and First Lady Casey DeSantis had worked in an afternoon baptism ceremony at the governor’s mansion for their 9-month-old son Mason.

“He was born at the end of March, and I was in the campaign,” DeSantis said during a pre-inauguration prayer breakfast at the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center on the campus of Florida A&M University. “There was never really a good time to do it. So, we just said, ‘Let’s get through the election.’ And once that was over, we figured what better time to do it than here.”

Water gathered by the DeSantises from the Sea of Galilee in Israel was saved for the occasion, he said.


Inauguration days, which come every four years, are a chance to reflect on Florida’s history and the people who have led the state.

DeSantis’ inauguration provided a brief spotlight for a group of leaders who have held a significant but often obscure post: lieutenant governor.

Jeanette Nunez became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in state history on Tuesday when she became Florida’s newest lieutenant governor. And to share her inauguration ceremony, four former lieutenant governors joined her on the stage on the east side of the Old Capitol.

They included Gov. Rick Scott’s two lieutenant governors, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Jennifer Carroll; Jeff Kottkamp, who was Gov. Charlie Crist’s lieutenant governor; and Bobby Brantley, who was Gov. Bob Martinez’s lieutenant governor.

Including Nunez, they represented five of the dozen lieutenant governors who have served since Florida re-established the position in the 1968 state Constitution.

The job of the lieutenant governor is significant because the No. 2 is ready to take over if the governor is incapacitated or leaves the executive post. That last happened in 1998, when Buddy MacKay became governor after Gov. Lawton Chiles died with less a month left in his second term in office.

However, since the lieutenant governor has no other legally prescribed duties, some have been relegated to the sidelines by the governors. That does not appear to be the case with Nunez, a former House leader. DeSantis has made it clear that his lieutenant governor will play a key role in his administration.


The Republican Party of Florida is teed up to elect a new chairman when it meets this weekend at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

And if Vegas was taking odds, the leaderboard is just Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who over the past decade made the Sarasota Republican Party a go-to place for national GOP figures, including President Donald Trump.

Trump was named twice --- in 2012 and 2015 --- by the county party as “Statesman of the Year.” Trump responded by making Gruters a co-chair of his 2016 campaign in Florida and earlier this year appointed the Sarasota Republican to the board of Amtrak, the passenger rail service that has the federal government as a majority-owner.

Gruters said Tuesday he’s 95 percent certain he has the votes to take the helm of the state party.

The remaining 5 percent? “The field,” Gruters said.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “It was Scott's prerogative indeed, but now @GovRonDeSantis has his own prerogatives. He should respond in kind by rescinding every lame duck appointment and reconsider each on merit!” state Sen. Tom Lee (@TomLeeFL) after Gov. Rick Scott made dozens of appointments in his final days in office.


57 drug treatment centers were awarded by the state of Florida. Then they were cancelled when the state was sued for fairness in the awards. As far as I could learn the lawsuit ended the “badly needed” clinics. I take a grandson across 2 counties 110 miles round trip 6 days a week at about $900 per month cost including methadone. Northern Florida has only about 6 clinics servicing around 2.5 million people. I understand most addicts cannot afford to travel to distant clinics and hold a job. Many who do travel, support the $16/Dose of Methadone and fuel cost by selling drugs. (How does that help?) Others could afford the fuel cost by using Suboxone which can be acquired monthly or Bi-monthly visits to a Dr., instead of daily travel to a distant clinic. (Job killing decision) Unfortunately addicts aren’t advised the difference in cost of travel (30 visits to the Methadone clinic vs 2 per month for zsuboxone. I hope Gov Desantis will help the addicts of Florida with clinics in every county. Also I hope he will ask some of us who have experience in the OPIATE crisis and why florida is failing, to share with him on advisory panels. Example of the problem: Santa Rosa county (Navarre, Milton Between Ft. Walton and Pensacola, has no methedone clinics. I spoke to a congressional assistant about Methadone and he didn’t know what it was, but promised to google it after our conversation.

I sincerely hope Govenor DeSantis will immediately deal with the voter fraud and elections corruption that is very prevalent in our southern counties.

I don’t know how many Floridians are aware that gun permits are handled by Sec of Agriculture. The republican almost lost it, because of the cheating in Broward County. I’m not sure if those votes were recounted. He went to bed at least 30,000 votes ahead and woke up 4,000 behind. I don’t know the total tally but he won and it shouldn’t have been close.

I hope he will fire bad election officials. Now we understand how Debbie Wasserman Schultz got re-elected in Broward County

PS: We also have a corrupt Tallahassee mayor that should be dealt with.

Scott was a disgrace for clean air, and clean water, in our State of Florida. It's clearly documented, that he covered up the environmental concerns of several universities relative to the poisoning of the water and atmosphere, caused by red tide. He was sponsored by the sugar industry and "looked the other way". His immoral lack of environmental stewardship is a national disgrace!. Unlike the other U.S. Senators, Scott never responded to my letters of concern to him. God help us with this self-serving individual! How do people like this become elected? It's because voters need to do a better job of educating themselves about the people they vote for.

Making bad comments of a former Governor leaving is bad taste as Human Beings . Look at yourself ? have you been so Great ? Can you not see our Nation and State deep in Sin and Great wickedness ? We are well past time to Repent and start as a New People . I know I have , come join me bow your knee and ask God for help guiding your lives .

"So long Gov" (I know you'll be a better Senator than the "Rocket-Monkey" EVER was...! )

Good riddance! G-O-O-D R-I-D-D-A-N-C-E!

Rick Scott is thankfully gone, and we are all cautiously optimistic in the professional, bi-partisan approach Gov. DeSantis has taken...

Rick Scott will go down, along with Jeb Bush, Askew and Chiles as one of the most successful governors in Florida history. Not just because of their longevity, but because of the way they tackled economic challenges facing the state and solved them.

Rick should not have appointed anybody. He should have allowed Ron to do it. What a lame duck approach. Ms Nancy needs to stop promoting Rick because big surgar tells her to Nancy its time to on.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda,...It ALWAYS 'all' "comes out in the wash"..! The "Gov" made the right "Chess moves", in the event Florida turned "Communist" (errrr "blue"): The "new Gov" can now go to work "on a clean slate"! (Nice "Chess Game" Gov Scott: "CHECK", "MATE", "GAME" !!!!!

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