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Rick Scott Puts State Employees to Work On Re-Election Campaigning Veiled as “Outreach”

| December 6, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott in full campaign mode. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Rick Scott in full campaign mode. (© FlaglerLive)

Florida’s economic achievements, which have been richly touted in recent congratulatory letters signed by Gov. Rick Scott, are now suggested grist for phone calls from state employees to business owners.

A bank of 20 phones has been set up in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Northwood Centre in Tallahassee for a weeklong campaign called Florida Business Outreach Week.

On-the-clock state employees from a number of agencies have been splitting shifts since Monday to call businesses from a list provided by the Department of State.

People who are called are being asked how things are going for their businesses and if they have any ideas on how legislators during the 2014 session can improve Florida’s economy.

“The goal of this initiative is to obtain feedback from businesses and what suggestions they might have for the state to better assist them or what challenges they are facing,” Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Jessica Sims said in an email.

Suggested talking points included with the phone-bank script encourage employees to sprinkle into conversations some general messages such as: “Florida is the best state in the nation to live, work, and raise a family;” “Last spring, Gov. Scott eliminated burdensome taxes on manufacturers;” and “Gov. Rick Scott recently completed the ‘It’s Your Money’ tax cut tour and discussed plans to cut taxes and fees for Florida families by $500 million in the next proposed budget.”

Through Wednesday 4,338 business had been contacted.

A list of businesses receiving calls was not immediately available. Sims said the businesses are ones that registered with the state in the last year.

A release posted Monday to herald the program, filled with quotes from state department heads, declares that “State agency officials will be calling Florida businesses this week to get feedback and discuss ideas on how to further improve Florida’s economy.”

Other participating agencies are the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Education, and the Department of Transportation.

The phone-bank program comes in the wake of more than 620,000 letters sent by out by the state with Scott’s signature that congratulate people such as law-school graduates, lottery winners and new business owners.

The letters also have highlighted the state’s advances under Scott’s watch.

The congratulatory letter sent to almost 400,000 business professionals — linked to the reception of business licenses for 2013 — includes a brief biography of the governor.

“Only in America can anyone from any family or zip code have the freedom and opportunity to pursue the American dream,” Scott’s letter said. “I know, because I have been blessed to live the American dream. Growing up, my parents struggled financially. In fact, when I started school, we lived in public housing. At age seven, I started my first part-time job selling TV Guides door-to-door.”

Scott has said he views the missives as a way to applaud individuals and to promote Florida.

His critics say some of the messages include language that deviates into campaign talking points with the governor up for re-election in 2014.

State agencies involved in the latest business outreach program have been asked to provide two employees for each of the 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. shifts each day this week.

Messages from state employees left on voice mail direct people to return comments to the Governor’s Citizens Services Office.

According to a memo sent to different state agencies, the event is “focused on ensuring Florida is creating and maintaining a prosperous climate for business to grow and create jobs for Florida families.”

A social media hash tag — #FLBizAssist — has been set up to promote the program and for the different agencies to highlight businesses that have been helped with the current campaign.

Through Thursday afternoon only the Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health, and Department of Environmental, Protection had posted messages with the hash tag on Twitter announcing the program.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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13 Responses for “Rick Scott Puts State Employees to Work On Re-Election Campaigning Veiled as “Outreach””

  1. Diana L says:

    OMG, he will stop at nothing and doesn’t even care how it looks or how much it costs us. I hope we are Scott free next year.

  2. A.S.F. says:

    Gee, they seem to have left out this past of the message in those “outreach” calls” According to the latest reports, Florida stands to lose about $5 BILLION in funding due to Governor Scott’s refusal to expand Medicaid in the state. Welcome to Florida!

  3. Nancy N. says:

    Only 333 more days until we can vote this slime bag out of office….and that’s 332 too many.

  4. Diana L says:

    He will have LOTS of money from his ALEC people and the Koch Brothers, etc., so we better be willing to get out the vote and wait in the lines because of his voter suppression. It is very hard to vote out an incumbent so we better get to work now.

  5. Sally says:

    What’s really depressing about this obscenity is that these employees have been taken away from actually serving the public to serving the private needs of this fraud!

  6. tom jack says:

    So Governor Scott has taken a page right out of the obama reelection book and all the liberals here are screaming its not fair. Just a bunch of hippocrits.

  7. confidential says:

    God forbid a Democrat incumbent have done that…would be crucified. Lets get this man out of office…he needs to be reported to the State Board of elections for using our taxpayers service employees for his personal benefit. Isn’t he enough wealthy to pay for his own campaign workers…Greedy to the core!

  8. Prescient33 says:

    The problem with the outreach program as explained is that it is not illegal, and is conducted out in the open. If it were disguised campaigning, as implied, I’m sure one of the governor’s detractors would bring it to the attention of the proper authorities, together with their supporting evidence. Otherwise, what we have is a case of sour grapes!

    • Diana L says:

      Ha, great argument, not illegal. Just like the argument of sheltering money in the Caymen Islands. There are a lot of things that are not illegal that many of us wouldn’t do, ethically.

  9. Bob Z. says:

    He just gave all State employees a day off for Christmas Eve…nice gesture that will cost the taxpayers quite a bit of money, and maybe get some of them to vote for him (not me).

  10. rhweir says:

    As I recall, state employees received their first raise in many, many years. I think it amounted to something like 26 cents an hour. Their health insurance now has a deductible and co-pays that work out to about a 39 cent decrease in pay. Scott has said, if you want a pay raise you’ll pay more for insurance. Scott has been no friend of public employees.

  11. rickg says:

    Too bad the good governor didn’t include the working Floridian on his call list… What’s the matter gov… afraid you might not hear what you want to hear???

  12. Prescient33 says:

    Taxpayers who use offshore tax shelters that illegally dodge tax payments, when caught, are liable for taxes, interest, and civil penalties. Violations of the Internal Revenue Code with the intent to evade income taxes may result in a civil fraud penalty and/or criminal prosecution. Civil fraud can include a penalty of up to 75% of the underpayment of tax from fraud, on top of the original taxes owed. Criminal convictions of promoters and investors may result in fines up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison.
    Offshore shelters are not only an ethical problem it seems. Where is the ethical problem in what the governor has done?

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