As Rick Scott abandons job, Floridians are left behind

New reporting from Politico found that Rick Scott has given up on doing the job of governor, instead focusing full time on extending his political career. While abandoning his official job, he fundraised with oil and gas special interests and the founder of the company at the center of the SunPass Scandal.

Here are some key points from Politico’s report:

•”Even as Gov. Rick Scott proposes cuts in congressional pay if members don’t seem to be working a full schedule, his own official schedule is shrinking.”

•”Since the beginning of June, Scott’s public calendar shows 33 days that have one scheduled event or nothing at all, and another nine that include just “staff and call time,” a common entry that gives no additional details.”

Rick Scott’s tendency to look out for himself and his donors at the expense of Floridians has been in full view this week.

WTSP in Tampa has found that in the weeks leading up to SunPass’ collapse, Rick Scott attended an out-of-state fundraiser hosted by the founder of Conduent, the contractor responsible for SunPass’ recent massive backlog.

WTSP also reported that a major Scott donor and bundler was paid by Conduent to lobby the Scott administration at the same time the contract was initially awarded. The same day that Scott’s administration admitted Conduent’s system at the core of SunPass’ problems, Ballard was hosting a high-dollar fundraiser for Scott in D.C.

This all comes on the heels of reporting on other failed state contractors who donated significantly to Rick Scott. Last month, CBS4 in Miami found that, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Rick Scott’s administration wasted tens of millions of dollars by hiring campaign donors for a debris removal contract. WTSP had also recently reported on how Rick Scott pushed Florida’s shift to private prisons — a move that resulted in massive cuts to crucial rehabilitation programs while directly benefiting his campaign donors.

Here are some key points from WTSP’s latest reporting on SunPass:

•”In the weeks leading up to Florida’s SunPass system collapse — time where the state should have recognized shortcomings in contractor Conduent’s plan and pulled the plug on the failed upgrade — Governor Rick Scott was collecting campaign checks at a Texas fundraiser co-hosted by Conduent’s billionaire founder and investor Darwin Deason.”

•”Weeks later, the state moved forward with its SunPass upgrades, which were supposed to take the system offline for just six days. But, internal failures caused massive outages for more than a month, creating billing, website, and customer service nightmares that are still plaguing Florida drivers 55 days later.”

•”With dozens of individuals on the host committee, including Deason’s wife and his son, each able to donate $5,400, the fundraiser likely raised in excess of $200,000.

•”Deason, 78, founded and grew data company Affiliated Computer Services, an S&P 500 company that was acquired by Xerox in 2010. At one time, Deason was reportedly the largest individual shareholder at Xerox. When Xerox spun off its data business in 2017 into a new company, Conduent, Deason received hundreds of millions of dollars in Conduent stock.”

•”Scott also reported receiving $97,000 in bundled contributions last quarter by lobbyist and friend Brian Ballard, who 10Investigates revealed three weeks ago was getting paid by Conduent to influence both the Florida legislature and executive branch, which includes the governor’s office and FDOT.”