When Gov. Rick Scott spoke Tuesday morning to the Florida Insurance Council [FIC] at the Governor’s Club, it was not on his public schedule.
Scott’s office said it was a “political” event and his office had nothing to do with the speech. They directed all questions to Let’s Get to Work, a political committee that supports Scott. Those are about the only circumstances surrounding the speech that are cut-and-dry.
FIC at first said it was not a political, but later reversed course.
A single piece of paper (see below) says that the event was a political contribution from FIC to Scott’s political committee, but it also makes clear nothing was contributed.
That document lists $0 as the contribution. That left one election law attorney who had never seen a $0 contribution sarcastically asking: “what was in-kinded, the air in the room?”
The idea the speech was a political event was initially contradicted by FIC President Cecil Pearce, who said they asked Scott to come speak in his official capacity as governor.
“The “committee” was not part of the event,” he wrote in an email. “There was no mention of Let’s Get To Work.”
When told of Pearce’s response, Brecht Heuchan, a GOP consultant working with Let’s Get to Work, sent an in-kind contribution form as evidence the event was political, not state, business. An in-kind contribution is usually non-cash items like drinks, food, or venues given to a campaign or political committee.
The form, though, included “N/A” in the section explaining what the in-kind item was, and that amount listed was $0. Heuchan confirmed that Scott did take any food or drinks at the event.
Pearce, whose name is on the FIC in-kind form, sent a second email after he initially said the event was not political. In it, he changed his tune.
“After running this by my office manager, we did, indeed, receive an in-kind contribution letter from Let’s Get to Work. I was unaware of this, as I was busy entertaining the members of my association during our annual fly in,” read his email, which was sent after questions had been sent to Heuchan.
It means the piece of paper that carried a rare $0 in-kind contribution kept the speech to an industry that lobbies his office off Scott’s public calendar.
There is no requirement that a governor maintains a daily calendar, but throughout his time in office Scott has made a practice of keeping a calendar and sending it daily to the media.
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, said the entire issue was strange, and Scott’s decision made little sense.
“So odd that they would go to such lengths to (1) shut the public out and (2) try to prove something that is immaterial in terms of the law,” she wrote in an email. “Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”
Original article here.