What They’re Saying: Scott’s “Cronyism” Is “Political Patronage At Its Worst”

Floridians are reading report after report about how Scott is prioritizing his self-serving politics at Floridians’ expense. Whether it’s installing his unqualified political cronies to key positions at the Departments of Emergency Management and Revenue, or ignoring mounting scandals across his administration while he campaigns, Scott keeps showing how he’s only ever looking out for one person: himself.

From Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein: “The damaging revelations about Scott’s cronyism and the scandals plaguing his administration as he works to advance his political ambitions keep reinforcing the central case against him: he’s only ever looking out for himself.”

Tampa Bay Times: Rick Scott loyalists are finding new state government jobs
By Mary Ellen Klas

  • The Florida Department of Revenue has ousted top employees and kept positions vacant for months to make room for many of Gov. Rick Scott’s loyal staffers who will be out of their jobs when he leaves office this year, even though none of them have any experience in that department’s main responsibility: tax administration.
  • The shakeup was managed by Leon Biegalski, the governor’s surprise pick to head the Department of Revenue in March 2016, and key jobs were given to former staff at the governor’s Office of Policy and Budget (OPB).
  • In the last month, [the head of DOR] has replaced most of the division’s top staff with people close to him or the governor.
  • Last year, the Times/Herald reported that Taylor Teepell, a GOP political operative, was appointed by Scott to head a Department of Environmental Protection division despite having no experience. He was paid $110,000 and left large parts of his application blank.
  • Biegalski, who was elevated to the post on the strength of Scott’s recommendation, forged a relationship with Scott as deputy director of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and previously as its head of the Division of Parimutuel Wagering. Scott recommended he be chosen to head DOR over three more experienced candidates despite Biegalski’s lack of experience in tax or accounting administration.

Read the full article here.

Politico: Top DEM hire has no disaster management experience but has ties to Scott
By Arek Sarkissian

  • A former aide to Gov. Rick Scott with no experience in disaster management has been hired to a top job with the state agency responsible for preparing millions of Floridians for hurricane season.
  • DEM has made previous hires with little to no experience in emergency management.
  • Scott appointed Wes Maul to DEM‘s job last September, three weeks after Hurricane Irma devastated the majority of the state. Maul had come to DEM from the governor’s office, where he was Scott’s traveling aide. He replaced Bryan Koon, who had extensive experience in the field.
  • DEM isn’t the only agency to hire employees who perhaps offer much more loyalty to Scott than actual experience in the job. This week, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported that five staffers from Scott’s office were hired by the state Department of Revenue after three key employees were fired. None of the newly hired employees met job requirements, such as holding a law degree or experience in finance.

Read the full article here.

Tampa Bay Times: Editorial: Scott sinks to new low on cronyism at Revenue Department
By Editorial Board

  • The Florida Department of Revenue is one of those arcane state agencies that quietly keeps the wheels of government turning. It should be led by seasoned experts in tax law and property valuations, but now its top ranks have been compromised by young, inexperienced, unqualified hires who have friends in high places, particularly Rick Scott.
  • This is political patronage at its worst and a shamelessly political scheme by the lame duck governor.
  • Over the last month, Leon Biegalski, the head of DOR, pushed out several of the office’s leaders and replaced them with newbies whose only apparent qualification is blind loyalty to a governor who could care less about the inner workings of government.
  • Scott, a former health care CEO, has long preached the idea of running government like a business. Does any smart business person push out veterans and experts in favor of unqualified and inexperienced replacements because they never question the boss? It would be foolish in any industry. In government, it’s called cronyism.

Read the full article here.

Pensacola News Journal’s Andy Marlette:

Tampa Bay Times: Rick Scott’s campaign-first strategy: Will it work?
By Steve Bousquet

  • Lately under Scott, how well is Florida working?
  • While Scott was raising campaign money in Dallas this week, his Department of Corrections was cancelling or reducing three dozen contracts for inmate re-entry, substance abuse and probation services.
  • Scott is a perpetual campaigner who has seven months left in his term as governor.
  • Scott proudly tweeted that he has had 30 campaign events in the first 30 days [while, at the same time,] Politico reported that Scott’s office was unaware of a time lag that could result in someone with a mental illness to obtain a gun because of delays in nearly 20 percent of mental health records being entered into a background check database.
  • Also this week, Scott’s Medicaid agency was forced to acknowledge that it gave wrong information to the federal government that the state received no opposition to proposed cuts to Medicaid.
  • [Sen. Audrey] Gibson said Scott’s schedule shows he’s focused mainly on getting elected to the Senate. “He is done being governor,” she said.

Read the full article here.

See also: Tampa Bay Times: Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

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