Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) was a controversial figure long before editorial boards were calling him 'unfit for office.'
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is facing calls to resign his new position as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee over his role in last week's attempt to block certification of the results of voting in the Electoral College in the 2020 presidential election and keep President-elect Joe Biden out of the White House.
The editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel lambasted Scott last week as "unfit for office" and one of "Florida's enemies of democracy" after he joined seven other senators to vote to set aside President-elect Joe Biden's electors — even after a violent mob of pro-Donald Trump extremists launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"By objecting to Joe Biden's electors," the editorial board wrote, Scott and the other members of Congress who objected to certification "voted with Trump's mob and against democracy."
A spokesperson said this week that Scott has no plans to step down as chair of the NRSC, the Senate campaign fundraising arm of the Republican Party.
Several major corporations are saying they will not continue to provide political action committee donations to the lawmakers who tried to block certification of the election results. This could potentially cause problems for Scott, as he tries to raise money to finance his party's drive to regain the Senate majority it lost in the 2020 election.
Scott has long been a controversial figure.
Prior to his political career, he was a health care corporation executive. During his time as CEO of Columbia/HCA, the company committed massive Medicare fraud. He denied any knowledge of the fraud and was not personally charged with any crime, but the company was fined $1.7 billion after he stepped down, the largest such fine in history at the time.
Scott was narrowly elected governor of Florida in 2010, spending nearly $75 million of his own money on the race and beating Democrat Alex Sink by 61,550 votes out of over 5 million cast.
During his eight years as governor, he repeatedly made national news for his efforts to suppress the right to vote. The editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times in 2018 called him "Florida's Jim Crow governor."
He blocked the restoration of voting rights for nearly all Black citizens who had completed sentences after felony convictions. The Palm Beach Post noted, "During his nearly eight years as governor, Scott restored the voting rights of twice as many whites as blacks and three times as many white men as black men. Scott restored rights to a higher percentage of Republicans and a lower percentage of Democrats than any of his predecessors since 1971."
In 2012, he ordered a massive — and illegal — purge of Florida's voter rolls. The lists of alleged noncitizens that his administration provided to localities were so riddled with errors that even dozens of Republican registrars refused to comply with Scott's orders.
He also pushed to reduce voting hours and make it harder to register to vote, suppressing Democratic and minority participation and forcing many people to wait in line for six hours to vote on Election Day, the Orlando Sentinel reported in 2013.
Scott earned high ratings from the National Rifle Association, enacting "stand your ground" legislation that made it easier for Floridians to get away with shooting people and signing a law that made it illegal for doctors to ask their patients if they owned firearms.
Term-limited in 2018, he challenged incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for his seat. Scott narrowly prevailed, beating Nelson by just over 10,000 votes. Even in that race, he baselessly accused Democrats of trying to steal the election, telling Fox News, "Senator Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try to win this election."
Though as a Senate candidate he rejected the label "Donald Trump Republican," Scott voted with Trump nearly 85% of the time, backing his Supreme Court nominees and voting to acquit him on all charges during his first impeachment trial.
He also said during the 2018 Senate race that Washington lawmakers ought to spend more time focusing on their jobs. But some of his actions after he took office suggest it was not clear what job he believed he was supposed to be doing.
In October 2019, he penned a letter to six states' governors to tell them how they should be doing their jobs. "I am concerned for the financial wellbeing of your state and the burgeoning share the taxpayers of [your state] would have to contribute to pay down your debts," he scolded the elected leaders of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, while bragging about his accomplishments as governor of Florida.
In January 2020, although he was not running for president, Scott paid to run his attack ads in Iowa against Joe Biden, baselessly accusing the Democrat of corruption. In the weeks before the November election, he ran more ads attacking Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, falsely claiming they were in favor of Medicare for All, packing the Supreme Court, defunding law enforcement, and socialism.
And although in the 2020 election Americans elected Biden and Harris, kept control of the House in Democratic hands, and voted in a Democratic majority in the Senate, Scott signaled this week that he plans to use the same attacks again in 2022 in his efforts to win back control of the Senate.
"Over the next two years, the Democrats are going to try to do a whole bunch of things that the public doesn't want," he told Fox News. "They don't want packing the Supreme Court. They don't want higher taxes and more regulation. They don't want the police defunded. I think the Democrats now have the ability to go do some things. I think it's going to help define them and I think it's going to help us have a big win in 2022."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.