Still shaking my head at that $100K donation to Rick Scott right before major PIP vote

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By accepting a $100,000 donation and lobbying so hard for the Florida House’s version of an overhaul to the state’s Personal Injury Protection laws, Rick Scott may have all but guaranteed a challenge from former governor Charlie Crist in 2014.

As the Miami Herald first reported, United Group Underwriters, an affiliate of United Automobile Insurance Company, gave $100,000 to Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee just as Scott was bashing the Senate’s version of the legislation, which mandated rate reductions and wasn’t as strict as the House measure.

As Bob Dole once asked, where is the outrage?

After all, if that $100,000 contribution isn’t the clearest example of a quid pro quo, I don’t know what is.

Let’s review…

Last week, the chances of PIP legislation passing both the House and Senate were somewhere between slim and none. The Senate had passed its no-fault automobile insurance bill without debate, sending its package to the House where it received a chilly reception.

Speaker Dean Cannon opened Thursday afternoon’s House session by telling members that he didn’t anticipate taking up the bill because House and Senate negotiators continued to study differences between the two chambers’ bills on the issue.
That left the PIP issue – the top priority of Scott – to pass or die on the final day of the legislative session on Friday.
By that time, the $100,000 contribution to Scott’s political committee had already been deposited. And – voila! –  Scott made the rounds of morning talk radio, talking with hosts on several stations in different markets around Florida to push for the Legislature to pass something closer to the House version.
Scott even threatened calling a special session to satisfy his contributor’s wishes, err, fix the no-fault auto insurance market. “If I had to I would (call a special session later on the issue) but there’s no reason we can’t get it done today,” Scott said on WFLA 540 AM in Orlando.
Hours before lawmakers concluded the 2012 legislative session, a House compromise proposal to revamp the state’s personal injury protection insurance squeaked through the Senate after a procedural vote of 21-19 got backers over the top.
Critics in the Senate, including most Democrats and a handful of Republicans, said the House bill penalized chiropractors, and others who won’t be able to treat accident victims as easily, or at all under PIP, and also the patients who would use those types of practitioners.
One of the critics of the bill outside the Legislature is Dr. Gary Kompothecras, of 1-800-Ask-Gary fame, one of the most generous political contributors in the state. Dr. Gary is reportedly so incensed that Scott pushed so hard for this legislation, which blocks out chiropractors unless patients are referred one to by a physician, that he rung the phone off the hook at Charlie Crist’s office.  Kompothecras is said to be ready to bankroll much of Crist gubernatorial campaign in 2014 via a Super PAC.
Such support would negate the entire purpose of Scott’s fundraising efforts to-date: to minimize the size of the check Scott will have to write in 2014 for his re-election campaign.  Scott is determined to see his former adversaries in the Republican establishment pony up for his campaign.
But after passage of the PIP legislation, Scott may have no choice but to stroke an eight-figure check in 2014 to keep pace with Kompothecras and Co.’s Super PAC.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.