Now in Washington, multimillionaire Rick Scott still out there hustling for more cold cash

Cartoon by Bill Day

No doubt you’ve been wondering whatever became of Rick Scott, the fellow who wrested the title of Worst Governor Ever from Sidney J. Catts  soon after he was elected in 2010.

Scott was last seen in Tallahassee shortly after the November midterms squealing like an outraged tapir when his lead over incumbent Florida senator Bill Nelson diminished to a level visible only through an electron microscope.

Scott won in the end, whether by hook or by crook is unclear. Now he’s in Washington, D.C., where he got straight to work getting Donald Trump’s attention, sucking up to Donald Trump, and, of course, chasing money.

Always chasing money. The US government may have been largely shut down, families unable to make rent or buy groceries, but a few hours after he was sworn in as a US senator, Scott held a fund-raiser with $100,000 tickets.

He’d been in Washington for only two weeks before he produced a Scott-splaining column in the Washington Post opining that everything is bad, and only he and the current occupant of the White House can solve the nation’s immigration woes. It’s simple: Democrats just need to admit the nation needs a “physical barrier” and quit hating on the president.

No doubt veteran members of Congress are grateful for such pearls of freshman wisdom.

And surely the heir to the British throne is thrilled to bits over getting a presumptuous letter from Florida’s junior senator, protesting his plans to visit Cuba. Scott asked the Prince of Wales to come to Florida instead.  Why would Charles and Camilla want to bother seeing Havana’s 17th century baroque architecture or attending the world-famous ballet or catching some jazz at La Zorra y el Cuervo when they could savor the beauties of I-95 and experience the aromatic algae in the St. Lucie River?

But Scott’s less interested in foreigners than pleasing the Florida MAGA hat brigade who put him into office. He’s feeling pretty pleased that he exhorted Trump to declare a state of emergency to get his wall money and now, lo and behold, Trump has done that very thing, trampling all over the Constitution and preparing to take money from veterans, active service families, FEMA, and maybe all those Florida victims of Hurricane Michael.

To be fair, Scott says he also wants Donald Trump to grant permanent protection for the Dreamers, young people brought to the US as small children by their undocumented parents. This sounds good. It is good. But when Barack Obama gave the Dreamers temporary protection with his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Scott pitched a hissy fit, insisting that the president did not possess such power.

Of course, in Scott’s mind, Obama wasn’t a real president. Not like Herr Day-Glo. Nevertheless, let’s give Scott credit for proposing something that won’t help his 2024 presidential bid. The dark lords of the Republican Party–Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh–don’t approve of Dreamers. Or anyone else who isn’t whiter than George Washington’s Sunday periwig.

Still, those of us who recall Scott’s eight years of malpractice here in Florida–the violations of public records law, the refusal to acknowledge climate change, the 2012 purge of alleged “non-citizens” from the electoral rolls  (99 percent of which turned out to be legitimate voters), the dismantling of the Department of Community Affairs, which protected the state from the worst ravages of developers, to name but a few–aren’t shocked that he may see the United States senate primarily as a money-making scheme opportunity.

The same way Donald Trump and the Trump crime family regards the presidency.

Scott has just announced that, unlike when he was governor, he will no longer keep his vast wealth in a blind trust. Not that it really was a blind trust. Hell, it wasn’t even myopic. Many assets were put in his wife’s name; the trust was managed by his business partner;  and the conflicts of interest were legion, from his ties to the company which ran SunPass to his investments in the operator of the Sabal Trail pipeline.

Florida’s new senator is open for business. You want his vote? Help fatten his portfolio.

Scott’s tenure as governor was ruinous for Florida, but not for him. Scott just got richer and richer–even though he spent millions of his own money buying political office. He was worth around $80 million in 2012: now his wealth could be closer to $500 million.

Think Scott wanted to go to Washington to serve Floridians or help make America a better place? I have some nice wetlands to sell you.

 

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.

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