Rick Scott
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Rick Scott

Rick Scott
Official Portrait of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).jpg
United States Senator
from Florida

January 8, 2019
Serving with Marco Rubio
Bill Nelson
45th Governor of Florida

January 4, 2011 - January 7, 2019[a]
LieutenantJennifer Carroll
Carlos Lopez-Cantera
Charlie Crist
Ron DeSantis
Personal details
Born
Richard Lynn Myers

(1952-12-01) December 1, 1952 (age 66)
Bloomington, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Ann Holland (m. 1972)
Children2
EducationUniversity of Missouri-Kansas City (BA)
Southern Methodist University (JD)
Net worth$255 million (2018)[2]
Signature
WebsiteSenate website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1971-1974[3]
RankPetty officer third class[4]
UnitUSS Glover 

Richard Lynn Scott ( Myers, December 1, 1952) is an American politician who has been serving as the junior United States senator from Florida since 2019.[5][6] A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the 45th governor of Florida from 2011 to 2019.

Scott is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Kansas City and of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. In 1987, after serving in the United States Navy and becoming a law firm partner, he co-founded Columbia Hospital Corporation. Columbia later merged with another corporation to form Columbia/HCA, which eventually became the largest private for-profit health care company in the United States.[7] Scott was pressured to resign as chief executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997. During his tenure as chief executive, the company defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs. The Department of Justice ultimately fined the company $1.7 billion in what was at the time the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.[8] Scott was not charged with a crime.[9] Following his departure from Columbia/HCA, Scott became a venture capitalist and pursued other business interests.

Scott ran for governor of Florida in 2010. He defeated Bill McCollum in a vigorously contested Republican primary election, and then narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Alex Sink in the general election.[10] Scott was re-elected in 2014, defeating former governor Charlie Crist. He was barred by term limits from running for re-election in 2018.

Scott won the 2018 Florida Senate election, defeating Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. The initial election results were so close that they triggered a mandatory recount. The recount showed that Scott had won by 10,033 votes; Nelson then conceded the race. Scott took office following the expiration of his term as governor of Florida on January 8, 2019.

Early life, family, education, and early career

Scott's wife, Ann Holland

Rick Scott was born Richard Lynn Myers[11] in Bloomington, Illinois, on December 1, 1952. Scott never met his biological father, Gordon William Myers,[11] who was described by Scott's mother, Esther J. Scott (née Fry; October 20, 1928 – November 13, 2012), as an abusive alcoholic.[12] Scott's parents divorced in his infancy.[12]

In 1954, Esther married Orba George Scott Jr. (died 2006), a truck driver. Orba adopted young Rick, who took his stepfather's surname and became known as Richard Lynn Scott.[13] Scott was raised in North Kansas City, Missouri, the second of five children. His family was lower-middle-class and struggled financially; Esther Scott worked as a clerk at J. C. Penney, among other jobs.[14][15]

Scott graduated from North Kansas City High School in 1970.[16] He then attended one year of community college and enlisted in the United States Navy, also in 1970.[17] Scott was in the US Navy for 29 months[18] and served on the USS Glover  as a radar technician.

On April 20, 1972, Scott, then aged 19, married his high school sweetheart, Frances Annette Holland (born February 11, 1952), who was 20 years old. The couple has two daughters and six grandsons.[14] The Scotts live in Naples and are founding members of Naples Community Church.[19]

Scott attended college on the GI Bill, graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He earned a Juris Doctor degree by working his way through Southern Methodist University. He was licensed by the Texas Bar to practice law on November 6, 1978.[20]

Scott made his first foray into business while working his way through college and law school, initially buying and reviving a failing doughnut shop (the Flavor Maid Do-Nut) by adding workplace delivery instead of relying on foot traffic. He later bought and revived another doughnut shop.[21] Following his graduation from law school, Scott worked as an attorney at the law firm of Johnson & Swanson in Dallas, Texas.[22]

Career in health care

Columbia Hospital Corporation

In 1988, Scott and Richard Rainwater, a financier from Fort Worth, each put up $125,000 in working capital in their new company, Columbia Hospital Corporation,[23] and borrowed the remaining money needed to purchase two struggling hospitals in El Paso for $60 million.[24] Then they acquired a neighboring hospital and shut it down. Within a year, the remaining two were doing much better.[18] By the end of 1989, Columbia Hospital Corporation owned four hospitals with a total of 833 beds.[24]

In 1992, Columbia made a stock purchase of Basic American Medical, which owned eight hospitals, primarily in southwestern Florida. In September 1993, Columbia did another stock purchase, worth $3.4 billion, of Galen Healthcare, which had been spun off by Humana Inc. several months earlier.[25] At the time, Galen had approximately 90 hospitals. After the purchase, Galen stockholders had 82 percent of the stock in the combined company, with Scott still running the company.[24]

Columbia/HCA

In April 1987, Scott made his first attempt to buy the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). While still a partner at Johnson & Swanson, Scott formed the HCA Acquisition Company with two former executives of Republic Health Corporation, Charles Miller and Richard Ragsdale.[26] With financing from Citicorp conditional on acquisition of HCA,[27] the proposed holding company offered $3.85 billion for 80 million shares at $47 each, intending to assume an additional $1.2 billion in debt, for a total $5 billion deal. However, HCA declined the offer, and the bid was withdrawn.[28]

In 1994, Columbia Hospital Corporation merged with HCA, "forming the single largest for-profit health care company in the country." Scott became CEO of Columbia/HCA.[29] According to The New York Times, "[in] less than a decade, Mr. Scott had built a company he founded with two small hospitals in El Paso into the world's largest health care company - a $20 billion giant with about 350 hospitals, 550 home health care offices and score of other medical businesses in 38 states."[30]

On March 19, 1997, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso and on dozens of doctors with suspected ties to the company.[31] Eight days after the initial raid, Scott signed his last SEC report as a hospital executive. Four months later, the board of directors pressured Scott to resign as chairman and CEO.[32] He was succeeded by Thomas F. Frist Jr.[33] Scott was paid $9.88 million in a settlement, and left owning 10 million shares of stock then worth more than $350 million.[34][35][36] The directors had been warned in the company's annual public reports to stockholders that incentives Columbia/HCA offered doctors could run afoul of a federal anti-kickback law passed in order to limit or eliminate instances of conflicts of interest in Medicare and Medicaid.[33]

During Scott's 2000 deposition, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment many times.[37] In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600+ million fine in what was at the time the largest health care fraud settlement in American history. Columbia/HCA admitted systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about use of hospital space. They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, and paid kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients. In addition, they gave doctors "loans" never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.[38][8]

In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the United States government $631 million, plus interest, and pay $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims.[39] In all, civil lawsuits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle; at the time, this was the largest fraud settlement in American history.[40][41]

Venture capitalist career

After his departure from Columbia/HCA in 1997, Scott launched Richard L. Scott Investments, based in Naples, Florida (originally in Stamford, Connecticut[42]), which has stakes in health care, manufacturing and technology companies. Between 1998 and 2001, Scott purchased 50% of CyberGuard Corporation for approximately $10 million. Among his investors was Metro Nashville finance director David Manning.[42]

In 2006, CyberGuard was sold to Secure Computing for more than $300 million. In February 2005, he purchased Continental Structural Plastics, Inc. (CSP) in Detroit, Michigan. In July 2006, CSP purchased Budd Plastics from ThyssenKrupp, making Continental Structural Plastics the largest industrial composites molder in North America.[43]

In 2005-06, Scott provided the initial round of funding of $3 million to Alijor.com (named for the first three letters of his two daughters' names), which offered hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers the opportunity to post information about their prices, hours, locations, insurance accepted, and personal backgrounds online.[44] Scott co-founded the company with his daughter Allison.[42]

In 2008, Alijor was sold to HealthGrades. In May 2008, Scott purchased Drives, one of the world's leading independent designers and manufacturers of heavy-duty drive chain-based products and assemblies for industrial and agricultural applications and precision-engineered augers for agricultural, material handling, construction and related applications. Scott reportedly has an interest in a chain of family fun centers/bowling alleys, S&S Family Entertainment, in Kentucky and Tennessee led by Larry Schmittou, a minor league baseball team owner.[45]

America's Health Network (AHN)

In July 1997, Columbia/HCA Healthcare purchased a controlling interest in America's Health Network (AHN), the first 24-hour health care cable channel. They[who?] pulled out of the deal on the day of the closing because Scott and Vanderwater were terminated, which caused the immediate layoffs of more than 250 people in Orlando. Later that same year, Scott became majority owner of AHN.[46]

In 1998, Scott and former Columbia/HCA Healthcare president David Vandewater led a group of investors who gave AHN a major infusion of cash so that the company could continue to operate. By early 1999, the network was available in 9.5 million American homes.[47]

In mid-1999 AHN merged with Fit TV, a subsidiary of Fox; the combination was renamed The Health Network.[48] Later that year, in a deal between News Corp. and WebMD, the latter received half-ownership of The Health Network. WebMD planned to relaunch The Health Network as WebMD Television in the fall of 2000, with new programming, but that company announced cutbacks and restructuring in September 2000, and, in January 2001, News Corp. regained 100% ownership.[49] In September 2001, Fox Cable Networks Group sold The Health Network to its main rival, the Discovery Health Channel, for $155 million in cash plus a 10 percent equity stake in Discovery Health.[50]

Solantic

Solantic, based in Jacksonville, Florida, was co-founded in 2001 by Scott and Karen Bowling, a former television anchor Scott met after Columbia bought what is now Memorial Hospital in 1995.[14]

Solantic opened its first urgent care center in 2002. It provides urgent care services, immunizations, physicals, drug screening, and care for injured workers. The corporation attracts patients who do not have insurance, cannot get appointments with their primary care physicians, or do not have primary care physicians. Solantic is an alternative to the emergency department care that these types of patients often seek, or for not seeing a doctor at all. In 2006, Scott said that his plans for Solantic were to establish a national brand of medical clinics.[14]

In August 2007, the company received a $40 million investment from a private equity firm and said that it expected to open 35 clinics by the end of 2009, with annual revenues of $100 million once all these clinics were open, compared to $20 million at the time.[51] As of March 2009, Solantic had 24 centers, all located in Florida.[52]

Solantic was the target of an employment discrimination suit, which claimed that there had been a policy to not hire elderly or obese applicants, preferring "mainstream" candidates. It was settled for an undisclosed sum on May 23, 2007. Scott responded to Salon regarding the claims of discrimination pointing out that "currently 53 percent of Solantic's employees are white, 20 percent black and 17 percent Hispanic."[53]

Pharmaca

In 2003, Scott invested $5.5 million in Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacies,[54] which operates drugstores/pharmacies that offer vitamins, herbal medicine, skin products, homeopathic medicines, and prescriptions.

Other work

In the 1990s, Scott was a partner of George W. Bush as co-owner of the Texas Rangers.[55]

Scott founded[when?] and managed Naples, Florida-headquartered Novosan, marketer of the Viosan Health Generation food supplements, which have been criticized by alternative medicine critic and Quackwatch webmaster Stephen Barrett as being promoted with non-explicit suggestions that they could cure various diseases when such promotion is violation of federal law.[56]

Political career

Conservatives for Patients' Rights

Governor Scott speaking at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida

In February 2009, Scott founded Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR), which he said was intended to put pressure on Democrats to enact health care legislation based on free-market principles.[57] As of March 2009, he had given about $5 million for a planned $20 million ad campaign by CPR.[58]

Florida gubernatorial campaigns

2010

Scott ran against Democratic nominee Alex Sink.[59] On April 9, 2010, Scott announced his candidacy for the 2010 Republican Party nomination for governor of Florida.[60]

Susie Wiles, former communications chief to Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, served as his campaign manager, and Tony Fabrizio was his chief pollster. It was reported on May 7 that Scott's campaign had already spent $4.7 million on television and radio ads.[61] Scott's first video advertisement was released to YouTube on April 13.[62]

During the primary campaign, Scott's opponent, Bill McCollum, made an issue of Scott's role at Columbia/HCA. Scott countered that the FBI had never targeted him. Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald contended that a 1998 bill sponsored by McCollum would have made it more difficult to prosecute Medicare fraud cases, and was counter to his current views and allegations.[63] Scott won the August primary with approximately 47% percent of the vote, compared to 43% voting for McCollum, with McCollum conceding the race after midnight. By the date of the Tampa debate between Scott and Sink (October 25, 2010), Scott had spent $60 million of his own money on the campaign compared to Democratic opponent Alex Sink's reported $28 million.[64] Scott campaigned as part of the Tea Party movement.[65]

The Fort Myers News Press quoted Scott as saying in total he spent roughly $78 million of his own money on the campaign, although other figures indicate he spent slightly over $75 million. He won in the general election for governor of Florida, defeating Sink by around 68,000 votes, or 1.29%.[66] He took office as the 45th governor of Florida on January 4, 2011.

2014

In October 2011, Scott announced that he would be running for reelection in 2014.[67] His political funding committee, Let's Get to Work, had raised $28 million for his campaign as of May 2014.[68][69]

As of early June 2014, Scott had spent almost $13m since March on television advertisements attacking former governor Charlie Crist, who then appeared to be the likely Democratic nominee, and who was eventually nominated. The ads resulted in a tightening of the race, mainly due to a decline in Crist's favorability ratings, while Scott's favorability ratings did not increase.[70]

By late September 2014, Scott's television ad spending had exceeded $35m[71][72] and in mid-October it reached $56.5 million, compared to $26.5 million by Crist. On October 22 it was reported that Scott's total spending had exceeded $83 million and he announced that, having previously said he would not do so, he would be investing his own money into the campaign, speculated to be as much as $22 million.[73]

Crist hoped to draw strong support from Florida's more than 1.6 million registered black voters, an effort that was challenging with regards to his previous political career as a Republican. A poll conducted in September 2014 by Quinnipiac University revealed his support among black voters was at 72 percent against Scott, which was well below the 90 percent analysts believed he needed to defeat Scott.[74]

Scott and Crist met in a debate on October 15, held by the Florida Press Association at Broward College.[75] Scott refused to take the stage for seven minutes because Crist had a small electric fan under his lectern. The incident was dubbed "fangate" by media sources such as Politico.[76] On November 4, 2014, Scott and Carlos Lopez-Cantera won the general election against Crist and Annette Taddeo-Goldstein by 64,000 votes. The Libertarian candidates, Adrian Wyllie and Greg Roe, received a total of 223,356 votes.[77]

Governor of Florida

Scott's gubernatorial portraits during his first (left) and second (right) term
Scott, Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, and other state officials
Scott with the Coast Guard in Miami
Scott speaking at Veterans Award Ceremony

During Hurricane Irma, he led Florida through the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history. Unemployment, taxpayer debt, and crime declined statewide during Scott's tenure. He signed a repeal of Florida's 1985 growth management laws, reduced funding for water management districts, reduced oversight at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and supported increased funding for Everglades restoration. Scott supported permanent tax cuts and "focused on job numbers rather than on running state agencies or making sweeping policy changes."[78]

Death penalty

In 2013, Scott signed the Timely Justice Act (HB 7101)[79] to overhaul the processes for capital punishment in Florida.[80] The Supreme Court of the United States struck down part of this law in January 2016 in Hurst v. Florida, declaring, in an 8-1 decision, that a judge determining the aggravating facts to be used in considering a death sentence with only a non-binding recommendation from the jury based on a majority vote was insufficient and violated the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a jury trial.[81][82]

The Florida Legislature passed a new statute to comply with Hurst v. Florida, changing the sentencing method to require a 10-juror supermajority for a sentence of death with a life sentence as the alternative.[83] This new sentencing scheme, however, was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 ruling in October 2016, which held that a death sentence must be issued by a unanimous jury.[84] The Florida Supreme Court ruled the law "cannot be applied to pending prosecutions" which means that until the Florida legislature acts, there is no procedure or law allowing a prosecutor to seek the death penalty; it leaves open,[clarification needed] however, the status of sentences passed under the twice-struck down provisions,[85] also left open by the January 2016 United States Supreme Court Hurst decision. The Court granted Hurst a new sentencing hearing following the same Supreme Court decision.[85]

During Scott's tenure, the State of Florida executed more inmates (28) than had been executed under any other governor in the state's history.[86][87]

Donald Trump

In the 2016 Republican primaries, Scott endorsed Trump after Trump won the Florida primary.[88] Scott chaired a pro-Trump super PAC in the 2016 election.[88][89] Unlike many other establishment Republicans, Scott praised then-candidate Trump as tough on terrorism and as an outsider during the 2016 Republican convention.[88]

When Trump "sparred with the Muslim father of a slain U.S. soldier," Scott said "I'm never going to agree with every candidate on what they're going to say."[88] When the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape was publicized, in which Trump spoke of grabbing women "by the pussy," Scott rebuked Trump, saying "I'm not following politics closely right now, but this is terrible. I don't agree with anyone talking like this about anyone, ever."[90]

Drug testing for welfare recipients

In June 2011, Scott signed a bill requiring those seeking welfare under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to submit to drug screenings. Applicants who fail a drug test may name another person to receive benefits for their children.[91]

In an interview with CNN host Don Lemon, Scott said, "Studies show that people that are on welfare are higher users of drugs than people not on welfare" and "the bottom line is, if they're not using drugs, it's not an issue". PolitiFact said this comment was "half true". Government researchers in 1999-2000 reported "that 9.6 percent of people in families receiving some type of government assistance reported recent drug use, compared to 6.8 percent among people in families receiving no government assistance at all."[92]

Preliminary figures from Florida's program showed that 2.5% of applicants tested positive for drugs, with 2% declining to take the test, while the Justice Department estimated that around 6% of Americans use drugs overall.[93] The law was declared unconstitutional, with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upholding that ruling in December 2014.[94] The Scott administration declined to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court.

Economy

In Scott's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, he promised to create 700,000 jobs in the state. In 2018, PolitiFact ruled Scott's job creation pledge as a "Promise Kept".[95]

Under Scott, Florida's job creation far outpaced the rest of the nation, while wages were below-average and poverty rates were above-average. During Scott's tenure as governor, Florida employers created nearly 1.5 million jobs, and the state's employment grew 20.3 percent, compared to 12.5 percent growth for the U.S. as a whole. Florida's household income is lower than the national average, with a widening gap. At 15.8%, the state's poverty rate is slightly above the national rate of 14.7%.[96]

Education

In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Scott vowed to expand school choice. PolitiFact rated this a "Promise Kept" due to Scott's push to expand school choice as governor. School choice legislation signed by Scott includes the creation of the Hope Scholarship Program, which subsidizes the cost of private school or allows a transfer to another public school for students who were bullied.[97]

In December 2012, Scott announced a plan to encourage students to pursue majors in engineering and science by reducing tuition for some majors.[98]

In 2016, Scott signed a bill allowing parents to pick any public school in the state for their children, regardless of traditional attendance lines or county boundaries.[99]

In 2017, Scott signed a $419 million public school bill that included charter school expansion. The bill was supported by House Republicans, school choice proponents, and conservative political groups and it was opposed by superintendents, school boards, parent groups, and teachers unions.[100][101]

During the summer of 2017, Scott signed a bill (HB 989 and SB 1210) that would allow any Florida resident to "challenge the use or adoption of instructional materials" in public schools."[102] Proponents of the bill argue that the bill will allow parents to be more proactive in their child's education. Opponents of the bill argue that the bill will allow more censorship, especially for scientific topics like global warming and evolution.[103]

Environment

Scott disputes the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, saying "I'm not a scientist".[104][105] The quote or paraphrases thereof became talking points for some Republican political candidates in the 2014 election campaigns.[106] The political blog Daily Kos proposed a new category for Scott, "climate-change mutism", for "those unable to express an opinion."[107][108][109]

When questioned by the press on March 9, 2015, in Hialeah, Florida, Scott did not indicate whether or not he believes global warming is a problem or whether Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has made or is making preparations for its potential consequences.[110][111]

In March 2015, accusations were made that his administration had instructed Department of Environmental Protection officials to avoid the terms "climate change" or "global warming" in any official communications. Scott denied the claims that his administration had banned the terms.[112][113][114][115]

Scott cut $700 million from Florida's water management districts over his tenure as governor.[116] The cuts stirred controversy in 2018 when Florida faced a water contamination crisis.[116][117]

Financial disclosures

In 2017, a Democratic activist and lawyer named Donald Hinkle filed a lawsuit claiming that Scott had not disclosed sufficient information about his wealth and holdings and may have underestimated his net worth. Scott appealed to a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The appeals court granted a writ of prohibition barring the circuit judge from taking any further action in the case. The five-page ruling agreed with Scott's argument that only the Commission on Ethics "has constitutional authority to investigate Mr. Hinkle's complaint."[118][119]

Gun laws

As of February 2018, Scott had an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), indicating a record of supporting gun rights.[120] The NRA stated in 2014 that Scott "signed more pro-gun bills into law - in one term - than any other governor in Florida history"[121]

In 2011, Scott signed the Firearm Owners' Privacy Act (informally called "Docs vs. Glocks"), which made it illegal for doctors and mental health professionals to ask patients about their gun ownership unless they believed "that this information is relevant to the patient's medical care or safety, or the safety of others."[122] Provisions of the law, including the part forbidding doctors from asking about a patient's gun ownership, were struck down as unconstitutional in 2017 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.[122]

On June 9, 2017, Scott signed an expanded version of Florida's stand-your-ground law into law.[123]

In February 2018, after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Scott stated his support of raising the minimum age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21; at the time of the shooting, 21 was the minimum age to buy a handgun, but rifles could be purchased at age 18. Scott announced his support of a ban on bump stocks. Scott also stated, "I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun," requesting $500 million in funds for mental health and school safety programs.[124] In March 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act which incorporated many of the issues Scott supported. It raised the minimum age for buying firearms to 21, established waiting periods and background checks, provided a program for the arming of some teachers and the hiring of school police, banned bump stocks, and barred potentially violent or mentally unhealthy people arrested under certain laws from possessing guns. In all, it allocated around $400 million.[125] Scott signed the bill into law on March 9.[126] That same day, the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging the law's provision banning gun sales to people under 21. An NRA spokesman said, "We filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the constitutional rights of 18- to 21-year-olds."[127]

Health care

Scott has been a harsh critic of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare,[128] but in his 2018 Senate campaign stopped harshly criticizing the bill.[129] In 2017, Scott said that individuals with preexisting conditions should be protected.[130] In June 2018, when the Trump administration sought to remove provisions of the Affordable Care Act protecting individuals with preexisting conditions, Scott declined to criticize the administration.[129][130][131] Scott said that he did not know enough about it to comment.[130]

Scott has taken a number of positions on Medicaid expansion. For much of his first term as governor, Scott was against Medicaid expansion in Florida, saying it was too costly. In 2013, he came out in support of Medicaid expansion, and reiterated his support in 2014 when he was up for re-election.[131] After getting re-elected, Scott reversed his position and adamantly fought against efforts by the Florida Senate to pass Medicaid expansion in 2015.[132]

Scott has been accused of having fueled an HIV epidemic in the state while governor, by ensuring the state returned $54 million in unspent federal HIV-prevention grants and blocking $16 million in CDC grants to Miami-Dade and Broward counties.[133] The effect of this rejection of federal funds combined with Scott's stance on Medicaid expansion, has been described as "helping explain why the state's HIV epidemic became almost peerlessly severe during Scott's time in office", with the state accounting for 13% of the country's HIV diagnoses in 2017.[133]

Hurricane Irma

Scott's handling of Hurricane Irma boosted his profile in advance of his U.S. Senate campaign, with The Hill writing that his "aggressive approach to Irma, which saw him order an extensive evacuation ahead of the storm and coordinate disaster relief efforts as the storm came ashore, has sent his political stock even higher" and that Scott's "preparedness has impressed Republicans and some Democrats."[134]

An investigation by WFOR-TV found that after Hurricane Irma, Scott ignored existing debris removal contracts and instead issued emergency contracts for hurricane clean-up efforts. Florida state officials sent an email to several companies on September 11 inviting them to hand in bids for debris clean-up by the next day. On September 13, state officials decided to use the services of MCM and Community Asphalt, firms owned by contributors to the Republican Party and Scott's campaigns. According to the television station, the emergency contracts cost $28 to $30 million more than the existing contracts.[135]

Immigration and refugees

In 2010, Scott ran for governor as an immigration hard-liner.[136][65] At the time, he favored similar laws as Arizona's controversial Arizona SB 1070 which targeted illegal immigrants, and criticized Florida lawmakers for not being tougher on illegal immigrants.[137][136] Scott called for police to check individuals' immigration status.[137] By 2014, PolitiFact wrote that Scott had "abandoned promises to get tough on illegal immigration."[138] Over time, he moderated his views on immigration.[65]

In 2011, Scott opposed giving in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, but reversed course in 2014 and signed a bill giving DREAMers in-state tuition in an effort to place limits on how much state institutions can raise tuition each year.[139][140] In 2013, Scott vetoed legislation that would have given DACA-eligible immigrants the ability to obtain temporary driving licenses.[141][140] By 2018, he spoke in favor of giving DREAMers a path to citizenship.[136]

In June 2018, Scott opposed the Trump administration family separation policy, which involved separating children from their parents, relatives, or other adults who accompanied them in crossing the border, sending the parents to federal jails and placing children and infants under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In a letter to United States secretary of health and human services Alex Azar, Scott wrote: "I have been very clear that I absolutely do not agree with the practice of separating children from their families. This practice needs to stop now."[142][143]

Scott's administration awarded Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (CHSi) a tax incentive package of $600,000 to expand in Cape Canaveral, Florida. CHSi runs the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children which detains minor migrants, including those separated from families at the border.[144]

Medical marijuana

After voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, Scott signed a bill passed by the legislature which allowed the use of medical marijuana but not smokeable medical marijuana.[145] A judge ruled the ban on smokeable medical marijuana unconstitutional.[146] Scott appealed the decision.[147][148]

Redistricting amendments

In the 2010 elections, Florida voters passed constitutional amendments banning gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts.[149] In February 2011, Scott withdrew a request to the United States Department of Justice to approve these amendments, which, according to The Miami Herald, might delay the implementation of the redistricting plan because the Voting Rights Act requires preclearance of state laws likely to affect minority representation. Scott said he wanted to make sure the redistricting was carried out properly.[150]

Several advocacy groups[which?] sued Governor Scott in federal court to compel him to resubmit the acts to the Justice Department.[clarification needed][151]

Transportation

On February 16, 2011, Scott rejected $2.3 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. Scott cited California's experience with high-speed rail, namely much lower than expected ridership and cost overruns that doubled the final price.[152] In response, a veto-proof majority in the Florida Senate approved a letter rebuking Scott and asking the Department of Transportation to continue funding. On March 1, 2011, two Florida state senators filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to compel Scott to accept the rail funds on the grounds Scott lacked constitutional authority to reject funds which had been approved by a prior legislature.[153] On March 4, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Scott's rejection of the rail funds did not violate the Constitution of Florida.[154]

In March 2011, Scott moved to have the Florida Department of Transportation amend its work plan to include $77 million for dredging PortMiami to a depth of 50 feet. Once the port is dredged, Panamax-sized vessels coming through the expanded Panama Canal could load and unload cargo there.[155]

In 2018, Scott reversed course and supported a high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando when the company All Aboard Florida sought to get taxpayer-backed funding from state and federal governments.[156] Scott and his wife had invested at least $3 million in the parent company of All Aboard Florida, which had made donations to Scott's political campaigns.[156]

Voting rights

Scott frequently sought to implement voter IDs as Florida governor, with numerous courts ruling against him in voting rights cases.[157][158][159] Scott has signed into law bills that created barriers to registering new voters, limited early voting, ended early voting on the Sunday before Election Day (known as "souls to the polls" in African-American churches), and restricted the ability of ex-felons to restore their voting rights. In 2012, Scott attempted to purge non-citizens from voter rolls just prior to the election; a court stopped Scott from doing so, and it was revealed that legitimate voters were on the voter rolls. The Tampa Bay Times noted that under Scott's tenure, Florida had the longest voting lines of any state in the 2012 election.[157] After harsh criticism, Scott expanded early voting hours, and allowed early voting on the Sunday before Election Day.[157]

In 2016, Scott refused to extend registration deadlines after ordering evacuations due to Hurricane Matthew; courts ultimately extended the deadline. Scott signed legislation into law which rejected mail ballots where signatures on the ballet envelope did not match signatures in files; in 2016 a court struck down the law.[157] In 2014, Scott blocked a request by the city of Gainesville to use a facility at the University of Florida as a site for early voting.[157] In July 2018, a judge ruled against Scott's prohibition of early voting on campus, saying that Scott's ban showed a "stark pattern of discrimination."[158][159] In 2013, Scott ordered Pinellas County to close down sites where voters could submit mail ballots. In 2012, a court ruled that Scott could not place heavy fines on groups that registered voters but failed to submit the registrations within 48 hours.[157]

Scott rolled automatic restoration of rights for nonviolent crimes, giving former felons a five- to six-year waiting period before they can apply for a restoration of voting rights.[160] Of the approximately 30,000 applications from former felons to have their voting rights restored during Scott's tenure, Scott approved approximately 3,000.[160] A 2018 investigation by the Palm Beach Post found that during his governorship, Scott restored the voting rights of three times as many white men as black men, and that blacks accounted only for 27% of those granted voting righs despite blacks being 43% of those released from state prisons in the past twenty years.[161] The percentage of blacks among those whose voting rights were restored was the lowest in more than 50 years, and Scott restored a higher share of Republican voting rights than Democrat voting rights than in almost 50 years.[161] A clemency board set up by Scott held hearings on applications, but there were no standards on how to judge the worthiness of individual applications. In March 2017, seven former felons filed a class action lawsuit arguing that the clemency board's decisions were inconsistent, vague and political.[160]

In February 2018, a U.S. District Court described Scott's process as arbitrary and unconstitutional, and ruled that Scott had to create a new process to restore felons' voting rights.[157][160] The ruling said that Scott and his clemency board had "unfettered discretion" to deny voting rights "for any reason," and that "to vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida's governor has absolute veto authority. No standards guide the panel. Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration."[160]The Brennan Center for Justice described the clemency rules issued by Scott in 2011 as among the most restrictive in the country.[162]

U.S. Senate

2018 election

After months of speculation about a potential run, Scott officially announced on April 9, 2018, that he would challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. senator Bill Nelson in the 2018 election.[163][164]

Scott defeated Rocky De La Fuente in the Republican primary.[165][166] In the general election, Scott's involvement in a large Medicare fraud case stirred controversy.[167][168] Scott responded with ads accusing Nelson of having cut Medicare benefits and stolen from Medicare; fact-checkers found that both of Scott's assertions were false.[169][167] During the campaign, Scott called Nelson a "socialist", an assertion PolitiFact described as "pants-on-fire" false.[170] During the campaign, Scott sought to avoid mentioning President Trump and at times criticized or distanced himself from actions of the Trump administration, whereas in the past used his friendship with Trump to boost his profile and been an early and vocal supporter of Trump in 2016.[88] Trump endorsed Scott in his Senate bid.[89]

The initial election results showed Scott leading Nelson by 12,562 votes, or 0.15% of the vote. Under Florida law, a manual recount is triggered if election results show a margin of less than 0.5% of the vote.[171] Both candidates filed lawsuits in connection with the recount. Following the recount, Florida elections officials announced on November 18, 2018, that Scott had prevailed. Scott received 50.05% of the vote, while Nelson received 49.93%; the margin of victory was 10,033 votes out of 8.19 million votes cast. Nelson then conceded the race to Scott.[172] The race was the most expensive Senate race in the nation in 2018.[173]

Tenure

The Senate term for the 116th Congress began on January 3, 2019; however, Scott's term as governor ended on January 8. On December 4, 2018, Scott's office announced that he would finish his full term as governor and would not resign early.[6] Scott attended the ceremonial swearing-in of his successor as governor, Ron DeSantis, on the morning of January 8, 2019, in front of Florida's historic Old Capitol.[174] Scott left the ceremony early to fly to Washington, D.C., and was sworn in to the Senate by Vice President Mike Pence later that afternoon.[175][6][176]

In January 2019, Scott encouraged President Trump to declare a national emergency to build a border wall if Congress would not give him the funds to do so.[177] In February 2019, when Trump declared a national emergency, Scott applauded the decision.[178]

In April 2019, amid calls for an American military intervention in Venezuela, Scott said that the Maduro regime was perpetrating a "genocide" and that the U.S. was "not aggressive enough" about the situation. Fact-checkers and experts described Scott's assertion of a genocide as false and misguided.[179][180] Scott called on the U.S. to position its military assets to be prepared to respond to events in Venezuela.[181]

Committee assignments

Rick Scott serves on the following five committees:[182]

Net worth and investments

Scott's net worth was estimated at US$219million in 2010, $84 million in 2012, and $133 million in 2013.[183][184] On July 1, 2015, it was reported that Scott's net worth had grown to $147 million,[185] $149 million on December 31, 2016,[186] and $232 million on December 31, 2017.[187] As of August 2018, his net worth is estimated at $255 million.[2]

Creation of "blind trust"

Early in gubernatorial tenure, Scott said he created a blind trust for his holdings to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. In October 2018, The New York Times reported that the blind trust in question was blind in name only, and that there were various ways in which Scott could know what his precise holdings were. The holdings in question included investments in companies and funds that Scott could have had an impact on through his administration's policies.[188] The trust in question was managed by one of Scott's business associates from before he became a governor.[189]

In February 2019, Scott announced that he would no longer keep his holdings in a blind trust.[190]

Controversial investments

In 2017, Scott and his wife held stocks in firms that did business with the Maduro regime in Venezuela and a shipping firm with close ties to the Putin regime in Russia.[191][192][193] Scott himself had been a harsh critic of the Maduro regime and chastised companies that invested in Venezuela, saying "Any organization that does business with the Maduro regime cannot do business with the state of Florida."[193] By 2018, Scott and his wife no longer held stocks in the firms with links to the Maduro and Putin regimes.[191]

In a July 2018 financial disclosure statement, Scott and his wife reported earnings of at least $2.9 million in hedge funds registered in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven. The financial statement said that the assets were held in a blind trust and a 2018 campaign spokesperson said Scott did not have a role in selecting particular investments.[191]

Scott and his wife invested at least $3 million in the parent company of All Aboard Florida, a rail investment company that proposed to build high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa.[156][194] In 2018, Scott supported the efforts of the company to build the rail and get taxpayer-financing. Scott had previously, early in his tenure as governor, rejected $2.3 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.[156]

Scott was an investor in the firm Conduent Inc., which was awarded a $287 million Florida contract in 2015 to manage SunPass, the toll program in the state of Florida. Due to glitches in SunPass, motorists were charged bank fees and overdraft charges, and the Department of Transportation in Florida came under criticism for failing to take action. Scott himself defended the Florida Department of Transportation handling of the SunPass controversy.[189]

Electoral history

Republican primary results[195]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Scott 595,474 46.4%
Republican Bill McCollum 557,427 43.4%
Republican Mike McCalister 130,056 10.1%
2010 Florida gubernatorial election[196]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Rick Scott 2,619,335 48.87% -3.31%
Democratic Alex Sink 2,557,785 47.72% +2.62%
Independence Peter Allen 123,831 2.31%
Independent C. C. Reed 18,842 0.35%
Independent Michael E. Arth 18,644 0.35%
Independent Daniel Imperato 13,690 0.26%
Independent Farid Khavari 7,487 0.14%
Write-ins 121 0.00%
Plurality 61,550 1.15% -5.92%
Turnout 5,359,735
Republican gain from Independent Swing
Republican primary results[197]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Scott(Incumbent) 831,887 87.65%
Republican Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder 100,496 10.59%
Republican Yinka Adeshina 16,761 1.77%
Total votes 949,144 100%
2014 Florida gubernatorial election[77]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican 2,865,343 48.14% -0.73%
Democratic Charlie Crist/Annette Taddeo 2,801,198 47.07% -0.65%
Libertarian Adrian Wyllie/Greg Roe 223,356 3.75% N/A
Independent Glenn Burkett/Jose Augusto Matos 41,341 0.70% N/A
Independent Farid Khavari/Lateresa A. Jones 20,186 0.34% +0.20%
n/a Write-ins 137 0.00% 0.00%
Total votes 5,951,571 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
United States Senate election in Florida, 2018[198]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Rick Scott 4,099,505 50.06% +7.82%
Democratic Bill Nelson (incumbent) 4,089,472 49.93% -5.30%
Write-in 607 <0.01% N/A
Total votes 8,190,005 100% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic

Awards and honors

Notes

  1. ^ Because Ron DeSantis and Jeannette Núñez took their oaths of office ahead of time, they became governor and lieutenant governor at midnight on January 8, rather than waiting for the inaugural ceremony. Thus, Scott's and Lopez-Cantera's terms ended at the end of January 7.[1]

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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Crist
Republican nominee for Governor of Florida
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Ron DeSantis
Preceded by
Connie Mack IV

(Class 1)

2018
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Crist
Governor of Florida
2011-2019
Succeeded by
Ron DeSantis
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Bill Nelson
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Florida
2019-present
Served alongside: Marco Rubio
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Josh Hawley
United States Senators by seniority
100th
Last

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