Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have flooded Florida out of desperation in the wake of the Trump administration’s shameful response. Trump, who doesn’t even know where Puerto Rico is, not only blatantly snubbed them, but also told them they are lazy and just want hand-outs.
There was a time that this racism played well in my stupid state, and Rick Scott was all too happy to take part. However, times are a-changing. Unable to stop the massive migration from Puerto Rico to Florida, candidate Rick Scott has switched gears and has gone over the top in his pandering.
Anything to impress the people of Puerto Rico, many of whom are now voters in Florida.
Depending on whom you ask, between 50,000 and 300,000 people moved to Florida after Hurricane Maria.
They can vote, which explains why Florida’s governor has spent much of the past week in Puerto Rican restaurants.
He hit El Cilantrillo Café & Restaurant in Kissimmee on Tuesday, shortly after coming out in favor of Puerto Rico becoming America’s 51st state.
Wanting Puerto Rico as a 51st state is a new one—along with his recent revelation on how much he really loves the DREAMers. All of this must be as hard for Scott to choke down as his sudden declared love for “stuffed mofongo”—you know, the seafood-mixed fried plantains that no one ever saw him eating until last week.
Meanwhile, his superPAC has been blanketing the airwaves. My word, does Rick Scott LOVE Hispanics! He loves Puerto Rico!!
….except for every single year before 2017, when he really, really didn’t.
I don’t have millions to blanket the airwaves, but I do have a computer with a search engine to remind everyone what Scott was like before the arrival of hundreds of thousands of new Puerto Rican voters. In case anyone needs a refresher, feel free to pass along this diary. Hatred isn’t suddenly cured by opportunity, especially if there is a lot of it….
1. Rick Scott has a history of discrimination against Hispanics
Rick Scott got rich from Solantic, a medical chain he founded with the wealth from his Medicare fraud scandal. It was not a friendly place for people who weren't “mainstream” (those were Rick Scott's words). The Regional Medical Director complained he was not allowed to hire well-qualified applicants who had the slightest Hispanic accent. His claim has been verified by multiple employees.
And if you need a clearer picture….
2. Rick Scott not only tolerated racism on his re-election staff, but fiercely defended the bigots
Granted, this link goes waaaaay back to 2014: long before Scott felt like he needed Hispanic help in winning an off-year election. Like Solantic, Scott had “mainstream” people make up his core staff with one notable exception: Miguel (“Mike”) Hernandez, Scott's finance co-chair. Mike was his largest single donor and his best fundraiser. As a reward, Mike was treated to a racist incident involving two high-level white, male staffers of Scott’s campaign, who thought it hilarious to mimic a Mexican accent on the way to Chipotle. Mike was so offended that he complained to Scott in an angry email. He was brushed off. He then abruptly quit.
Instead of apologizing, Rick Scott’s campaign director called him “bizarre” and a “renegade donor”. (Keep in mind that Mike was his BEST fundraiser.) Scott's campaign manager also called him a liar.
Worst of all, Rick Scott not only didn’t fire the men, but went on record to vigorously defend them.
After the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., which led to the murder of a counter-protester, Rick Scott flew to be with his friend at a New Jersey golf resort. They dined, took selfies, and fawned over each other.
When Rick Scott was asked if he would condemn Trump’s remarks, he refused.
What a difference a few months make. The gushing governor from the GOP convention is gone, and his efforts to downplay his relationship with Trump is so obvious that it’s almost comical.
The racist GOP chairman of the House Judiciary committee, William Snyder, proposed a law that would have allowed police to harass people “suspected” of being here illegally, yet he specifically exempted Canadians and Western Europeans. He even admitted the bill wasn't about “rule of law” or “jobs”, but was worried about what we “allowed to occur in our country” (wink, wink). This law was too racist for even our rightwing state legislature, but Rick Scott not only supported it, he embraced it and promised to sign it if it made it to his desk.
Florida was the only state in the union to deny in-state tuition to U.S.-born students of undocumented immigrants. Our tax dollars went to defend what the judge correctly described as a “blatantly unconstitutional” policy to deny American citizens the right to in-state tuition unless their parents could prove legal residency.
If you are an American citizen who has lived in Florida, you should get in-state tuition. Period. I don’t care what your parents are. But Rick Scott didn’t think so. He fought the measure with our tax money. You won’t see that in any of his campaign ads.
Again—this was pure hate. Even in our wacky, rightwing conservative legislature, the state senate passed a bill that would have allowed children of undocumented aliens to obtain temporary Florida driver's licenses 36-0. The Florida House, which is somehow even more rightwing, passed it 115-2. It was a slam dunk.
Yet Scott vetoed it.
He never gave a reason. It passed with such a margin that it would be overridden, and yet he vetoed it just to be a dick and to pander to his racist base. Said state sen. Soto: “Simply unconscionable, it’s an …. anti-Hispanic move.”
Of the 180,000 potential noncitizens identified for purging in 2012, less than 0.02% were actually ineligible. Nearly 60 percent of those included in the initial list were Hispanic – meanwhile, Hispanic voters make up only 13 percent of Florida’s electorate. Only about 60 were legitimate out of Scott's initial 182,000 purges. And he tried again in 2014.
Scott signed a sweeping voter suppression act during his first full year as governor. Many polling places throughout South Florida were eliminated, along with early-voting days. A study by the Advancement Project found that out of all the ethnic groups, it was Hispanic voters who waited the longest. In Miami-Dade, the average time was 73 minutes. There were reports of people waiting up to EIGHT freaking hours to vote. Other highlights from the study showed that Hispanic voters were more likely to have to use a provisional ballot and almost twice as likely to have those ballots rejected.
What’s even worse than an unnecessarily long voting line? Shutting down bathrooms at Democratic polling places in Miami-Dade. That’ll learn ‘em.
Ybeth Bruzal is a real journalist known for asking tough questions. She is one of the few journalists whose biography has been recorded in the Congressional record. She was more than qualified to interview pond scum like Rick Scott. Yet in 2014, she interviewed all gubernatorial candidates except for Rick Scott. The reason? Rick Scott’s campaign told the Spanish-language station InfoMas that he should get to “pick the reporter”, and furthermore, that he would only discuss “Hispanic outreach”—nothing else.
Other issues were reserved for white reporters.
All–righty then… I think I’ve made my point.
I admire that Bill Nelson loves to run “positive” campaigns, but he does Florida and our Puerto Rican citizens a disservice by not calling Rick Scott out on his bigotry. The GOP and the Kochs are pouring millions into this race rebranding Rick Scott. It’s sickening.
This is Bill Nelson’s campaign website. I encourage you to donate and volunteer, but also to let him know that it would be a tragedy to let Rick Scott get away with this.
Look, Bill Nelson is the incumbent, and this should be a blue wave election year; but don’t ever count on Florida doing the right thing. We’ve let America down in just about every critical election. Also remember that no matter how bad Rick Scott is, we keep electing him.