Gov. Rick Scott bows out of sitting on commission that certifies election results

rick scott
Rick Scott. Screenshot

Recount logoThe latest development in the frenzied election season: Gov. Rick Scott will not sit on the Election Canvassing Commission that meets to certify official returns from the general election.

Scott’s attorney, Daniel Nordby, revealed that information at a U.S. District Court telephone hearing this morning, in a federal case alleging that Scott has been using his official powers as governor to interfere in the general election and benefit himself.

Scott, the governor, also is a U.S. Senate candidate.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause  Florida and Joanne Lynch Aye, a Broward voter who voted in the 2018 election.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, of the Northern District of Florida, is presiding in this lawsuit and several other election-related federal lawsuits.

Lawrence Robbins, attorney for the League and Common Cause, said the disclosure that Scott will not sit on the canvassing commission is “valuable” information but not “exhaustive” in terms of what the lawsuit seeks.

In fact Robbins asked on the spot that the court consider appointing a “neutral third party” to replace Scott on the Election Canvassing Commission. In addition to the governor, two Cabinet members sit on the commission. All current Cabinet members are Republican.

The commission is scheduled to certify the official returns on Nov. 20, though with various lawsuits in play, it’s not clear if that deadline will stand.

Some counties fear they can’t finish voting recounts on time, including in three pivotal races: Scott and Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum for governor, and Nikki Fried and Matt Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner.

That League of Women lawsuit alleges that Scott “used the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and to intimidate the local officials and volunteers conducting the vote count.

The lawsuit says that Scott has violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs as well as Florida voters, and “suffers from a substantial conflict of interest.”

Therefore, “This Court should not permit Defendant Scott to use the power of his office in any manner related to the Florida’s 2018 Senate race as long as he remains a candidate,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit cites several instances of Scott’s actions as governor, including using the taxpayer-funded Governor’s Mansion to hold a news conference for the U.S. Senate race and continuing to raise tensions by saying South Florida counties were “trying to steal the election.”

Most alarmingly, according to the lawsuit, Scott called on FDLE to investigate Broward and Palm Beach County for “rampant fraud” though “Scott has produced no evidence of alleged fraud.”

 

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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