Rick Scott, the health-care executive running in a highly contested battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, launched a lawsuit Wednesday in Tallahassee's U.S. District Court, looking to challenge state campaign finance laws that would benefit Attorney General Bill McCollum, his chief rival for the GOP nod.
Arguing that the law is an impediment to free speech, Scott is taking aim at a part of the law that limits his spending from his personal fortune in the primary to $24.9 million. For every dollar that Scott would spend over that amount, McCollum would receive an equal amount.
The Scott suit, filed against the secretary of state who oversees the Division of Elections, calls for an injunction by July 16 -- cutting the McCollum campaign off from getting taxpayer dollars due to flow into his war chest, if Scotts challenge is unsuccessful, sometime in late July.
The McCollum campaign quickly fired back at this latest development in what is becoming an increasingly contentious primary.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Rick Scott, a man who oversaw the most massive Medicare fraud scheme in history, just cant seem to play by the rules, said Matt Williams, McCollums campaign manager. Hes spending the millions he ripped off of taxpayers to fund a self-image repair campaign that has stopped at nothing to cover his past misdeeds and distort Bill McCollums record of conservative leadership.
Rick Scott will have his day in court, but all this legal wrangling just proves what we already know, added Williams. No amount of money not even the more than $20 million Rick Scott has spent to date will cover his record of fraud, hypocrisy and doublespeak.
Williams said that the Scott effort to challenge the campaign finance laws, which were established in 1998, would backfire on the health care executive.
Florida voters are becoming increasingly disgusted with a greedy and dishonest insider who will say and do anything to avoid his record from profiting off illegal immigrants to making millions off President Obamas $780 billion stimulus boondoggle, said Williams. At least Rick Scott admits he needs to spend millions more to hide his own record. He hasnt just hit the campaign spending limits hes hit the limit of audacity by ripping off taxpayers with their own money and asking them for seconds.
The Scott campaign fired back at McCollum, relying on the help of 527 organizations, including groups set up by Republican leaders in the Legislature,to stay competitive in the race.
I wish it came as a surprise that Bill McCollum is still in violation of election law by hiding his donors, but at every point he finds new ways to cross ethical and legal boundaries, shirking any semblance of transparency to protect his backroom deals and special interests," said Joe Kildea, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. "Floridians are fed up with politicians like Bill McCollum who put their career ahead of the law and Floridians. We need new leadership in Tallahassee, and Rick Scott will give taxpayers the transparency and accountability they deserve.
"Last week, Bill McCollum belatedly filed the required 'solicitation statement' and finally admitted that he is raising money for and directing the activities of the stealthy political groups that are spending millions of dollars attacking Rick Scott," added Kildea. "McCollum continues to violate election law by dragging his feet and refusing to disclose those who have donated to the shady political organizations running around-the-clock attacks on Rick Scott."
We know that Bill McCollum has a lot to hide, but as attorney general youd think he could at least follow the law, said Kildea.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 850-727-0859.