Rick Scott had a rough week.
Yes, the incumbent governor easily won the Republican primary on Tuesday – as if there was any doubt.
But for Scott, the first week of the General Election was simply one disaster after another, at least in the eyes of NextGen Climate Florida, the state’s environmental PAC founded by billionaire Tom Steyer.
Between Big Sugar, Duke Energy and other issues, NextGen Climate received abundant ammunition to help Scott launch his 70-day march to November in full meltdown mode.
A recap of Scott’s disastrous first week, courtesy of NextGen Climate:
On Monday, NextGen Climate unveiled “Secret,” a new television ad exposing the governor’s “cozy relationship” with Florida’s powerful sugar interests. Focusing on a secret trip to the exclusive King Ranch in Texas, which was bankrolled Big Sugar, the ad accused Scott of hunting for campaign contributions.
Scott received $756,462.68 in campaign contributions from the sugar industry since 2012, including $100,000 after signing a bill using taxpayer funds to address pollution in the Everglades, much of which caused by Big Sugar, NextGen Climate says.
Following Scott’s anticlimactic primary win, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday of a secret deal to build a “legacy” garden at the Governor’s Mansion, by buying adjacent commercial property to install a “grand boulevard and a visitors commons.”
“Everyone involved was using state time to do the work,” Klas wrote, “they wanted to avoid creating a public records trail, so they used private email accounts and private cell phones to keep what they were doing out of the public eye.”
Among the groups helping to fund the garden — U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals and Florida Power & Light— all are direct beneficiaries of Scott’s policies..
In a followup on Thursday,the Herald announced it had acquired documents showing Scott’s administration intentionally used private communications for conversations concerning the secret garden deal, so to skirt any potential public records requests.
These disclosures further support the Herald’s claim of a disturbing “culture” in the governor’s office of avoiding trails of public records, by using private email accounts and private cell phones.
The governor’s laundry list of outrageous attempts to undermine public access led the Miami Herald to declare, “Among Florida’s recent governors, none has a worse record on transparency and open government than incumbent Rick Scott.”
They continued that Scott clearly sees open government as an “inconvenience,” adding that Florida deserves a governor “who honors that tradition instead of one trying to destroy it.”
All told, Scott undeniably had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.