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News

Ethics and the governor's race

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist trade ethical filings as campaign gets dirtier

Photo: Sources: Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Charlie Crist press office, License: N/A

Sources: Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Charlie Crist press office


“It doesn’t get more ironic than Rick Scott, after pleading the Fifth 75 times to avoid going to jail and leading one of the largest fraud schemes in the history of the U.S., directing his staff to file an absurd ethics complaint against Charlie Crist, the People’s Governor.

– Kevin Cate, spokesman for Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign, in a statement

JUST THE STATS

 

$135,000

Amount Gov. Rick Scott invested through a blind trust in French oil services company Schlumberger Ltd., according to 2011 disclosures. An ethics complaint has been filed.

 

$11,323

Amount the Republican Party of Florida paid Columbia Collier Management of Naples for use of a Cessna Citation Excel jet for campaign purposes. An ethics complaint has been filed.

 

$297,000

Amount Charlie Crist made from Morgan & Morgan in 2013; Republicans have filed several ethics complaints against Crist’s campaign, mostly based on advertisements for the firm that feature Crist.

Blinded by the light

In a statewide political climate where terms like “ethics” and “transparency” are typically used as window dressing to block out those harmful rays of sunshine that are written into Florida law, it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that this year’s gubernatorial contest has already devolved into a spitball match of accusations of unethical campaign behavior and willful misdeeds. But even by the standards you might tend to measure the filed-and-documented acrimony of a former (and formerly) Republican governor fighting against a fairly unlikable Republican incumbent in a hotly contested, highly expensive race, you might find yourself lost in the crossfires this time around. Everybody, it seems, is doing everything wrong.

Last week, the ethical conundrum reached its apex, with possibly the most damning accusations yet being volleyed from both sides of the rhetorical classroom. On June 17, South Florida Democrat John Lundin lodged a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding the recent revelations that Gov. Scott might have significant financial interest in the world’s largest oil servicing company, Schlumberger Ltd. Sure, Scott’s a gazillionaire, so he naturally can’t keep up with each and every one of his investments, and that’s precisely why he doesn’t. In 2011, after ascending to his purchased throne of governorship, Scott shifted his investment portfolio into a blind trust over which a third party would lord. One of those blind investments consisted of $135,000 worth of Schlumberger black-gold servicing. It turns out that Schlumberger has worked with Texas oil company Dan A. Hughes Co. to obtain oil-drilling permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – which is basically controlled by Scott, who has already drawn the ire of environmentalists because Scott sneakily cleaned out said department in 2012 to avoid further obstruction of drilling interests. From there the slope gets slipperier, as things covered in oil do. Scott released his (and his wife’s) income tax records for the last three years along with details of the blind trust. Boom, Schlumberger is no longer listed. That doesn’t mean Scott’s completely off the hook, though, at least in the realm of appearances.

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