That’s right, the governor with an approval rating just above freezing may be the recorded greeting welcoming visitors from Buffalo and Cleveland and other places north.
With the airport seeking to use recorded greetings from Scott on shuttles, the governor’s acting general counsel last week asked the Florida Commission on Ethics for an advisory opinion about whether such messages would violate bans on lobbyist gifts and expenditures.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which includes the airport, has a lobbyist registered to work on executive-branch issues. Laws banning gifts and expenditures also apply to the agencies or businesses that employ lobbyists.
In a May 22 letter to the ethics commission, Jesse Panuccio, Scott’s acting general counsel, said the governor’s office doesn’t think the recorded messages “violate the common-sense bans on gifts and expenditures from lobbyists.”
“Because absolute clarity on this issue will help advance joint governmental efforts to promote Florida tourism and the economy, the governor respectfully requests a formal advisory opinion from the commission,” Panuccio wrote.
An ethics commission staff proposal released Wednesday sides with Panuccio’s conclusion. In part, it says there is no indication that playing the greetings — which would be recorded at the governor’s office — would cost the airport authority any money.
The commission is scheduled to address the issue June 15.
Panuccio’s letter said the airport’s communications director asked the governor to record the greetings for buses that shuttle passengers between the main hub and terminals.
According to the letter, arriving passengers would hear, “This is Florida Governor Rick Scott, and I’d like to welcome you to Tampa Bay, a great place to live, work and play. Thank you for choosing Tampa International Airport. Enjoy your stay.”
Departing passengers would hear a message thanking them for their stay and saying “we hope you’ll return soon.”
The letter said the airport currently runs messages from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, after earlier using greetings from the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.
If Scott’s greetings get approved by the ethics commission, they could find a friendly audience later this summer. The Republican National Convention is coming to Tampa in August.
Material from Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida was used in this post.