Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 7 of 25 - SaintPetersBlog

Alan Abramowitz reappointed head of Guardians ad Litem

Gov. Rick Scott reappointed Alan Abramowitz as head of the state’s child advocates program.

The Governor’s Office announced the appointment Wednesday night for a term of Feb. 8, 2017-Feb. 8, 2019.

Abramowitz, 54, of Tallahassee, has been Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program since 2010.

Guardians ad litem represent the interests of children in court proceedings, especially in divorce and juvenile dependency matters.

Abramowitz, who served in the Florida National Guard and the United States Army from 1983-98, was state director for family safety for the Department of Children and Families.

He’s also been chief legal counsel for the Department of Children and Families’ Central Florida area and Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Abramowitz received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University, his law degree from Florida State University, and his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida.

House panel votes to kill Enterprise Florida, VISIT FLORIDA

A Florida House panel Wednesday cleared a bill that would eliminate the Enterprise Florida economic development organization, the VISIT FLORIDA tourism marketing agency, and a slew of economic incentive programs – the first step of a long journey through one chamber of the Legislature.

The Careers and Competition Subcommittee OK’d the proposal (PCB CCS 17-01) by a nearly party-line vote of 10-5.

One Democrat voted for it, Miami’s Roy Hardemon, and one Republican was opposed, Sarasota’s Joe Gruters – an ally of Gov. Rick Scott, who believes in incentives. 

The committee room was packed with bill opponents, including those in the service and tourism industry and many from rural areas, who said economic development and tourism marketing was vital to their livelihood.

Passing the bill as is will “destroy our tourism industry,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, speaking for the thousands of “waitstaff, cooks (and others) worried about losing their jobs.”

The legislation comes in the wake of VISIT FLORIDA CEO Will Seccombe’s December resignation, the last casualty of a kerfuffle over a secret contract – later revealed to be worth up to $1 million – with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism.

Moreover, Scott’s continued support of incentives puts him at odds with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has derided Enterprise Florida as a dispenser of corporate welfare.

“Politicians in @MyFLHouse turned their back on jobs today by supporting job killing legislation,” the governor tweeted after the vote.

Chris Hudson, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida, lauded the vote as the death knell of “bloated subsidies.”

“Lawmakers were elected to serve the hardworking people of the state, not well-connected special interests that seek lucrative deals to pad their bottom line,” he said.

“… We applaud the members of this committee who today stood up for fairness, for principle, and for Florida taxpayers.”

But dozens more local officials and small business owners came to Tallahassee to oppose the legislation. Dairy owners joined oyster farmers, short-order cooks, and fishing captains to tell lawmakers the bill would harm them financially.  

Kelly Paige is president of Film Florida, but also owns Level Talent Group in Tampa. She said the state’s previous ending of a film incentive caused her to lose 40 percent of her workforce.

“This bill actually represents a tax increase for my industry,” she told the panel. “If you repeal (any more incentives), you are saying we are closed for business.”

Eric Fletcher, manager of airport operations for Allegiant Air, said VISIT FLORIDA helped his airline grow 2,000 jobs in the state, bringing in 3 million visitors.

And Visit Florida board chairman William Talbert told the subcommittee “every single representative here knows … we would have a state income tax if it was not for tourism.”

After the vote, state Rep. Halsey Beshears, the Monticello Republican who chairs the panel, said he was impressed by the many stories he heard during public comment.

“Obviously, there’s a huge demand out there for (both organizations), but I do think we have to start from zero,” he said. “Still, we’ll let the Speaker know all the concerns we heard today.

“… Not everything will be zeroed out,” Beshears added. “We cannot ignore all the people who traveled from all over Florida to be heard on this.

“I appreciate the dairy man who said every little bit (of marketing) helps, but then the server in Orlando (who supports the bill) told us we need to be good stewards of the people’s money,” he said.

business incentive

Rick Scott’s favorite business incentive is losing money, Senate hears

Gov. Rick Scott’s favored economic incentive program – the Quick Action Closing Fund (QAC) – is now losing money, the Legislature’s chief economist told a Senate panel Wednesday.

The QAC is a pot of cash that Scott can draw up to $2 million from without legislative approval to entice businesses to the state.

But though the state’s “return on investment” from QAC projects was $1.10 per dollar four years ago, it’s now down to 60 cents per dollar, Amy Baker told the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

In fact, more state incentive programs are losers than winners, according to Baker’s slides. Incentive programs, including the QAC, as well as Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, and VISIT FLORIDA, the state tourism agency, are slated for elimination under legislation filed in the House.

Only eight incentives – what Baker called the “strongest of the strong” – make money for state coffers, including the Florida Sports Foundation Grant Program ($5.60 per dollar) and the Qualified Target Industry program (QTI), which now makes $6.40 per dollar invested.

The QTI targets businesses that offer high-wage jobs.

The others either don’t “break even,” though the state may recover some of its costs, such as the Spring Training Baseball Franchise Incentive, Baker’s slides said.

Or the “state loses all of its investment, plus incurs additional costs,” such as Enterprise Zones.

That’s when “we’ve made things worse than it was when we started,” she said, giving the example of no longer taxing something that used to be taxed.

Just breaking even, however, “is a lofty challenge,” Baker said. She noted that a incentive dollar has to “cycle through the economy 16.67 times” to make money for the state.

State Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican, later asked Baker about the merit of tax breaks for films.

She said they target “the most footloose part” of the film industry, being the shooting of a movie or commercial, “and when they’re done, they’re gone.”

“They’re not building, they’re not ‘nesting’ in local communities,” Baker explained, instead referring to companies that build soundstages here, or focus on “production and editing.”

“They’re less transient,” she said.

Subcommittee chair Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, eventually floated an analogy that instead of just fishing for sharks, lawmakers should focus on keeping “the coral reef” healthy, and that will attract small fish, then bigger fish, then sharks.

DEO “Cissysplains” economic incentives to Richard Corcoran

Gov. Rick Scott has now sicced the Department of Economic Opportunity, headed by executive director Cissy Proctor, on the Florida House to take down its critique of economic incentives.

A news release, issued late Tuesday, continues the cold war of words between the governor, an ardent supporter of incentives, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has called them “corporate welfare.”

The department’s response is reprinted below, unedited and in its entirety:

Today, the Florida House of Representatives used data maintained by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that was unfortunately used to inaccurately describe the result of the state’s economic incentive programs. DEO would like to take this opportunity to accurately explain the data and how the incentive programs work to create valuable Florida jobs while aggressively protecting taxpayer dollars.

DEO Director Cissy Proctor said, “Before Governor Scott came into office, state incentives were often awarded before stringent requirements were met. However, under Governor Scott, Florida companies receive economic incentives after these requirements are met, including proven job growth and wage requirements.  Only contractual commitments that are met are paid.  This ensures a return on investment for Florida families.”


64.3 percent of the economic incentives listed below were unsuccessful because: 

•They only completed a portion of their requirements for which they were paid and can receive no more payments (inactive) 14.2%

•They never received any payments though a contract was executed and are ineligible for future payments (terminated) 36.9%

•The contract was never signed (vacated) 11.9%

•The application was withdrawn 1.2%


It is inaccurate to say that all inactive, terminated, vacated and withdrawn projects are not successful. While inactive projects met some performance measures, businesses were only rewarded for the jobs they created. This means the program is working. Only contractual commitments that are met are paid.

For example, if a company moves to Florida and commits to creating 100 jobs over five years but ultimately only creates 75 jobs over four years, the company only receives payments for the 75 jobs created; not for the full 100. Are those 75 jobs a failure? No. Are the 75 Floridians who found a new opportunity to provide for their family or achieve their dreams evidence of a failed project? No.

Job creation should never be viewed as a failure. This process shows the reforms that Governor Scott put in place are working to protect taxpayer dollars while encouraging job growth.

Furthermore, terminated, vacated and withdrawn projects NEVER received taxpayer funds. This shows that the Governor’s strict accountability measures are working to safeguard taxpayer dollars. This is part of the due diligence process that was reformed under Governor Scott’s leadership.


Less than 10% of approved incentives were completed having met all its contractual obligations with the state.


Many state incentive projects resulted in the creation of new jobs, capital investment, or higher wages in companies across the state. These job creation deals are multi-year projects with multiple different types and sizes of businesses across various industries. A multitude of factors can result in a company changing its business model, which is why Governor Scott’s reforms included strict performance-based contracts for each year of the agreements. In the years that the companies meet their contract goals, jobs are created for Florida families and investments are made in Florida communities. These new opportunities and investments are a success for the state. Again, if jobs are not created, no taxpayer dollars are spent.

A trend worth noting for many of the incentive programs is the common practice of either providing a one or more year extension for the various businesses receiving incentives to meet performance criteria with no award penalty, or simply amending contracts to change performance criteria.


When companies enter into agreements with the State of Florida, they are projecting performance up to a decade in advance. When initiating their projects, companies may experience delays related to local permitting, construction, renovation, federal contracts, and relocating their business. While some extensions may be provided after a thorough and strict review process, state money is not given out until full job creation, wages and capital investment from the contract are made.


6 out of 10 approved incentives do not result in successful projects


While inactive projects met some performance measures, they were only paid for the investments that were made. Furthermore, job creation is never a failure. Terminated, vacated and withdrawn projects NEVER received taxpayer funds.

3 (“Active”) of the remaining 4 that could potentially be successful could still end in a status of “Termination” or “Inactive”


All incentive projects are held accountable for the life of the project and taxpayer dollars are not spent until strict performance measures are met.

12% of approved incentives never execute a contract with the state


In these cases, companies seeking incentives meet with the state to discuss their business growth plans. During the due diligence process that was reformed under Gov. Scott’s leadership, the state works with the company regarding the strict requirements of the incentive program. At this point, a company may decide not to pursue an agreement. Again, in this case, no taxpayer money is ever spent. This shows that the program is working.

Since 1994 a total of 186 (9.6%) of approved incentives have resulted in a project that completed its contract with the state


While inactive projects met some performance measures, they were only paid for the investments that were made. Furthermore, job creation is never a failure. Terminated, vacated and withdrawn projects NEVER received taxpayer funds.

No statistics are currently available for the 9.6% to determine how many, if any, were sanctioned during contract performance for failure to meet their full performance requirements


All performance-based contracts have sanctions and clawbacks in the event that a company is unable to meet a requirement. This is part of the reforms of the incentive process done by Governor Scott, and the state will continue to aggressively pursue efforts to hold companies accountable in order to safeguard taxpayers’ dollars.

A cordial House reception for Scott’s budget, despite off-stage rancor

The House Appropriations Committee gave a respectful reception Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott’s $83.5 billion state budget Tuesday, with chairman Carlos Trujillo praising the spending plan as “conservative.”

“It’s a very fair budget,” Trujillo told reporters following the meeting. “It was balanced. Some different priorities than we’ve expressed here in the House. But, overall, I think it was very fair, very reasonable, and very well put together.”

Of proposed legislation that would spike Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida — two of Scott’s top priorities — Trujillo said a hearing Wednesday before the Careers and Competition Subcommittee would be telling.

“If the bill goes down in flames tomorrow in committee, we know there’s probably not an appetite for the membership. But if that’s not the case, the appropriations will follow the policy,” Trujillo said.

“I’m assuming it will be reported favorably,” he said.

Asked whether he could recall a time when a proposed committee bill favored by a speaker did not pass, Trujillo had a quick reply.

“Stand your ground, last year in my criminal justice committee.”

The debate over those economic- and tourism-development programs has grown heated, with Scott Tuesday suggesting the bill was motivated by House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s desire to run for higher office.

Informed of the governor’s remarks, Trujillo said: “I would disagree with his comments.”

Regarding the overall budget, Cynthia Kelly, Scott’s top budget aide, briefed the committee on Scott’s plan and answered questions. Several members asked about Scott’s proposal to leave local property tax levels at existing levels, to capture rising property values for schools.

House leaders want to lower that tax rate, to keep tax levels more or less even.

“We do not consider that a tax increase,” Kelly said of the governor’s proposal. “If the rate had been adjusted, that would be different. But as long as the rate is held constant, it is not considered a tax increase.”

House budget subcommittees were to begin hammering out the House’s own spending plan during hearings scheduled for Wednesday.

Lobbying firms misreported income, ethics panel finds

Three Florida lobbying concerns are being reported to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet for incorrectly tallying their income, the Florida Commission on Ethics said Wednesday.

In at least two of the cases, however, the errors were basic accounting mistakes. Lobbyists’ compensation is subject to random audits, some of which are reviewed by the commission.

In a press release, the commission said it found probable cause to believe Dean Mead, a law firm with a lobbying practice, “inaccurately reported compensation received from a principal for the first quarter of 2014.”

The firm also “inaccurately reported compensation received from two principals in the third quarter of 2014.” Probable cause means it is more likely than not that a violation has occurred but is usually not a definitive finding.

Firm shareholder Pete Dunbar in the Tallahassee office said the mistakes were “bookkeeping errors” that were “quickly corrected” before his firm’s audit was finalized. Dunbar’s long government service includes being former Gov. Bob Martinez’s general counsel and legislative affairs director, as well as serving as a member and chair of the ethics commission.

It also found probable cause that Buigas & Associates “overstated compensation received in the second quarter of 2014, as well as the third quarter of 2014.” A message seeking comment was left on an office voicemail.

And the commission found probable cause that D. Darling Consultants “overstated compensation received from a principal for the first period of 2014, and failed to report compensation received from a principal for the fourth period of 2014.”

Firm principal Doug Darling, a “sole shingle” lobbyist, represents only two clients: Accenture and Grant Thorton, both consulting companies. He said he uses the “cash accounting” method, used by most small businesses, instead of the “accrual” method.

“The cash method accounts for revenue only when the money is received,” Investopedia explains. “On the other hand, the accrual method accounts for revenue when it is earned.”

Darling also said the commission’s press release is in error, explaining that the reporting periods in question are fourth period of 2013 and first period of 2014.

Under state law, “probable cause findings … of this nature are forwarded to the Governor and Cabinet,” the commission’s release says, referring to Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

“The firms have 14 days to submit a written request for hearing to the Governor and Cabinet.” it says. “However, the Governor and Cabinet may, on (their) own motion, require a public hearing and may conduct such further investigation as deemed necessary.”

Adam Putnam agrees: Business experience essential for governor’s job

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam agrees with Gov. Rick Scott that Florida’s next governor should have “business experience.”

“I think someone having business experience that they bring to public life is very helpful,” said Putnam, who spoke to reporters after a speech at Tuesday’s Associated Press annual Legislative Session planning session at the Capitol.

In a recent interview, Scott – who is term limited in 2018 – said the next governor needs to have experience in the business world.

Some took that as a slight to Putnam, long rumored to be eyeing a run for governor in 2018.

The 42-year-old Republican was first elected state agriculture commissioner in 2010 after serving 10 years in Congress. The Putnam family owns Putnam Groves in Bartow.

“As a guy who is part of a small business, I get it,” he said. “You have a better feel for what regulations mean, what the paperwork translates to, and things that often sound like a good idea in Tallahassee, by the time they get to Main Street businesses, they’re a hot mess. It’s helpful to know what it means to create jobs in this state.”

Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, has raised funds at an impressive clip, logging nearly $6.8 million in contributions since March 2015, state records show.

This January, it collected $392,500, including a $250,000 contribution from Florida Power & Light, according to its website. It now has cash on hand of almost $4.5 million.

Though Putnam Tuesday continued to decline comment on his future political plans, the latter part of his remarks at the AP event veered into ‘stump speech’ territory, mentioning how the state needs to bolster workforce development, education and rural economic development.

Above being a retirement destination, Florida “needs to be the kind of place that attracts people four decades sooner,” he said, “so that they raise their families here, and they start their businesses here and grow those businesses here, because that’s a very different emotional investment for the long-term good of Florida.”

That sounds strikingly familiar to remarks he made at his political committee’s “Friends of Florida Agriculture Barbecue” in April at Peace River Valley Ranch in Zolfo Springs.

“I want Florida to be the place where people come as a young person, graduate from our universities, raise their families here — start, build and grow their businesses here, so that they are passionately, emotionally invested in the long-term good of Florida, where Florida’s going, how Florida got to be what it is, and what makes Florida special,” Putnam said at that event.

Rick Scott’s $83.5 billion state budget goes heavy on tax holidays

Gov. Rick Scott proposed an $83.5 billion state budget Tuesday that would include $618 million in tax cuts, $85 million in economic incentives, nearly $4 billion for environmental protection, and more than $5.1 billion for public safety.

Florida has added more than 1.2 million jobs during his tenure “because of our continued focus on cutting taxes, reducing burdensome regulations and fostering an environment where job creators can grow and succeed,” Scott said in unveiling his spending priorities in Tallahassee.

“Because our economy continues to grow, we are able to make these investments while also paying down debt and setting aside $5 billion in reserves,” he said during The Associated Press Legislative Planning Session at the Capitol.

“There are always people who say we can’t afford to cut taxes, make strategic investments in areas that are important to families, and provide savings to taxpayers. But they are absolutely wrong.”

Scott is sure to face resistance to elements of his proposals in the Legislature, where House Speaker Richard Corcoran has denounced economic incentives as “corporate welfare.” Click here for Corcoran’s remarks later in the day, and here for more about Scott’s economic development plans.

Scott defended such initiatives — including Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, and Enterprise Florida, which provides incentives to businesses.

“I’m confident that every House and Senate member realizes the importance of funding economic incentive programs — especially the way we do it, where taxpayers actually get a return,” Scott said.

“We don’t put the money up until we know we’re going to get the jobs. If we get the jobs, we know we’re going to get tax revenues.”

Scott’s budget would include cuts to business taxes and rents; a one-year sales tax exemption for college textbooks; and a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday. Back-to-school fairs would enjoy a tax exemption.

There would be a nine-day disaster-preparedness tax holiday; a three-day veterans’ sales tax holiday; and a one-day camping and fishing sales tax holiday.

Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” budget would cut $8.1 million in fees for seniors, teachers, veterans and businesses.

The budget would provide nearly $21 billion for K-12 education and $6.6 billion for higher education, including for the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

There would be no tuition increase for college students.

Scott wants the state to leave the required local property tax rates for schools alone, to capture receipts attributable to rising property values. House leaders want to scale back the tax rate to keep tax receipts about the same.

Scott noted that the state’s share of education spending has grown over the years about local contributions.

“Anybody that understand that’s not a tax increase, I’d be surprised,” Scott said.

“I would assume those same people, then, are going to propose reducing sales taxes when they see a consumer good go up in price also. Under their scenario, that would be a tax increase, I presume.”

Scott would provide $65 million to protect Florida’s springs; $60 million to clean up Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River; and $225 million for Everglades Cleanup.

He does not share Senate President Joe Negron’s interest in buying land around Lake Okeechobee for water storage. Still, “I like the fact that I’ve got a Senate president that cares about Okeechobee” and other environmental problems, Scott said.

Scott’s budget would include $14.6 million to give law enforcement officers a 5 percent pay raise. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement would get $5.8 million to hire 46 counterterrorism agents. There would be $45 million to hike pay for corrections officers.

The budget would provide $1 billion for mental health and substance abuse efforts, and a record $632 million for Florida’s child welfare system. He would spend more than $7.4 million to clear the Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ critical-needs waiting list.

The budget would represent a modest increase over current spending, which is $82.3 billion. Taxpayers would save $800 million, according to a FAQ report Scott’s aides provided during a background briefing. Additional details here; actual budget here.

Those savings include $581 million by trimming Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals, and $298 million in supplemental money for for-profit hospitals that stint on charity and uncompensated Medicaid care.

The budget does not assume the Trump administration will convert Medicaid into a block grant program, even though Scott supports such a move.

The plan assumes the Legislature will have $7.5 million after paying for “critical” needs including Medicaid and education, plus additional high-priority needs.

It would eliminate 266 state worker positions through streamlining and consolidating jobs. But it would add 327 jobs at the Department of Corrections; 90 at the Department of Children and Families mental health treatment facilities; and the additional counterterrorism jobs.

State workers would pay $50 per month for their health insurance, and $180 for family coverage, to save $21.8 million. An audit of dependent eligibility would save an estimated $45 million per year.

The plan calls for $5 billion in reserves, including $1.3 billion in unspent general revenues and $1.4 billion in the budget stabilization fund.

The only debt Scott envisions is for Department of Transportation infrastructure. But only if the department needs the money, aides said. Total transportation spending would hit $10.8 billion. Click here for details about Scott’s proposed cuts to South Florida’s Tri-Rail project.

The budget counts on $123.7 million in gambling proceeds from the Seminole Compact.

Scott would spend $1.9 million to add 21 epidemiologists to county health departments, to combat emerging health threats including Zika virus.

Joe Negron resigns from Gunster law firm

Senate President Joe Negron has resigned from the Gunster law firm, four days after Gov. Rick Scott suggested ethics reforms affecting lawyer-legislators.

Negron’s resignation was announced Monday by H. William ‘Bill’ Perry, Gunster’s managing shareholder.

Negron, a Stuart Republican, had been “of counsel” with the firm, usually referring to an attorney who works on a case-to-case basis for a firm, not as an associate or partner.

“Joe has been a great colleague and a valuable member of our litigation team,” Perry said in a statement. “We have accepted Joe’s resignation with both regret and the knowledge he will continue to dedicate his time and talents to the people of Florida as the leader of the Florida Senate.”

Last week, Scott had proposed a series of additional ethics measures to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has focused on heightening ethical standards and government transparency this year.

One provision would ban lawmakers from working for companies, including law firms, that lobby the Legislature. Gunster has a “Government Affairs Law & Lobbying” practice in Tallahassee.

And Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, is of counsel in the Tampa office of Broad and Cassel, practicing commercial litigation. That firm too has a government relations practice, including members who lobby in Tallahassee.

Negron’s webpage on the Gunster website, still active as of late Monday morning, showed that he practiced “business litigation” and “corporate law” for the firm, including “the defense of commercial law claims involving millions of dollars at stake.”

His “experience includes claims involving contract law, real estate and construction matters (including construction lien litigation), and insurance coverage,” the site said. “Of particular note, Joe defends litigation claims involving nautical and maritime law matters. He has also represented both for-profit and non-profit corporate directors and officers sued for breach of fiduciary duty.”

In a separate statement Monday, Negron said the “notion of a citizen legislature – people from all walks of life, business, and industry combining their experience and perspectives to form a government of, by, and for the people – has been a guiding principle of our country since its inception.”

“Florida’s part-time legislature, where elected officials, bound by term limits, live and work in the communities they serve, produces results for the people of this state that are far better than we could hope to see from full-time career politicians and bureaucrats,” he said. “Throughout my legislative service, I have carefully scrutinized my legal and legislative work to ensure I fully uphold the highest ethical standards.

“For the first time, I have reached a crossroads where my firmly held conviction to promote legislation that would benefit my constituents, community, and state has the potential to result in a possible perception of a conflict with my professional employment,” Negron added. “In the abundance of caution, to avoid even the possible appearance of such a difference, and to make certain I can continue to effectively advocate for my community, I have made the decision to step away from my position with the Gunster Law Firm.

“Practicing law at Gunster, a large statewide law firm, has been a tremendous opportunity to work with a very talented team of accomplished professionals. I will continue to practice law for the remainder of my time in the Senate and look forward to continuing to represent the citizens who elected me to serve in the Florida Senate.”

Scott’s move was seen by some as retaliation for Corcoran’s attacks on Scott’s agency heads, including deposed VISIT FLORIDA head Will Seccombe and DEP Secretary Jon Steverson, who quit to go work for a law firm to which he had steered millions in fees for outside legal work.

When asked last week whether Scott was being retaliatory “in any way, shape or form,” Corcoran said, “I always try to impute the best motive.”

Richard Corcoran: Rick Scott’s ethics proposals not personal

House Speaker Richard Corcoran Thursday told reporters he took no personal offense at ethics suggestions sent by Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott’s office earlier in the day sent Corcoran, who is on an ethics reform tear this year, more ideas, including a provision that would ban lawmakers from working for companies, including law firms, that lobby the Legislature.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, is of counsel in the Tampa office of Broad and Cassel, practicing commercial litigation. The firm also has a government relations practice, including members who lobby in Tallahassee.

Scott also wants a ban on lawmakers working for companies that sue the state.

“I read the letter,” Corcoran said in an afternoon media availability. “Clearly, they have somebody in mind, it seems like. Somebody’s suing somebody; to my knowledge, it’s not me … but if that kind of behavior is taking the process in a place it shouldn’t be, then let’s have at it.”

Scott’s letter, sent from chief of staff Kim McDougal to Corcoran chief of staff Matt Bahl, outlines four suggestions:

— Immediately disclosing “all contracts legislators advocate for between state agencies, businesses, not for profit organizations, and/or any other entity that receives tax dollars.”

— Immediately banning lawmakers and staff involved in the state budget, “including the law firms they may work for or own, from suing state agencies…”

— Banning lawmakers from riding in airplanes “paid for by political committees and party executive committees.” A new House rule already prohibits House members from flying in lobbyists’ planes.

—”Shutting the revolving door to prohibit the employment of legislators by entities, including law firms, that employ lobbyists.”

“The power of the Legislature to appropriate funds allows individual legislators great influence over the actions of state agencies and other entities,” the letter says. “Therefore, the public deserves safeguards … to ensure that all funding decisions are made free of any undue influence, real or perceived.”

The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee on Tuesday cleared two measures as part of Corcoran’s new “culture of transparency.”

One would increase the ban on former lawmakers and statewide officers lobbying their colleagues after leaving office from two years to six years by way of a constitutional amendment. The other “extend(s) the prohibition on legislators lobbying the executive branch” from two to six years after leaving office.

When asked whether Scott was being retaliatory “in any way, shape or form,” Corcoran said, “I always try to impute the best motive.”

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