Here’s the video evidence of the event the governor’s spokesman claims never happened. The video was taken by someone named Jason Braswell, and shows Democrats being ejected by sheriff’s deputies from the event, because the officers were told it was “private.” Note that only those wearing “Vote Democratic” T-shirts and holding signs supporting education or the president — but not Gov. Scott — were being asked to leave. Others holding signs supporting the governor were not bothered by the officers. The entire event unfolds right in front of a bank of reporters, including one from the Associated Press. Watch:
Now, about this event “not happening…”
This is what Scott’s spokesman Lane Wright told the website Politic365:
“Governor Scott did not have these individuals removed. This was a public event. It was brought to our attention that the local authorities had removed some. We don’t know first-hand who was removed or why.
“We are only seeing what you’re seeing in the news reports,” Wright added. “It’s disappointing to know that anyone who made the effort to be at such an important event wasn’t allowed in.”
And that, of course, directly contradicts the eye witnesses to the event, including those who were kicked out, and the reporters who witnessed it. And while the spokesman claims the organizers of the event were from The Villages, this was the account of a St. Pete Times reporter on the scene:
The deputies were getting their orders from Russ Abrams, a $60,000 a year special assistant to Scott. Seeing this, the Buzz approached Abrams. He told us the budget signing was “a private event.” When asked more questions, Abrams said: “I don’t need to talk to the press,” and then, “I don’t have anything to say.”
Abrams and other men wearing black earpieces then attempted to identify other people with anti-Scott intentions. They alerted deputies, who told them they had to leave the town square.
Which leads to several questions that the governor should now have to answer:
1. Why was a bill signing labeled a “private event”?
2. Who told those sheriff’s deputies to kick Democrats out of the event (including residents of The Villages, where the signing took place)?
3. Who paid for the event? If it was the Republican Party of Florida (which did pay for a series of robocalls supporting the governor’s vetoes, which “spoofed” recipients’ phone numbers, and whose finances are already the subject of a federal inquiry over lavish spending that left them pretty much flat broke as of the last election), why would a political party pay for an event at which a public bill is signed? If it was Florida taxpayers, by what right did the organizers kick some of those taxpayers out?
4. Who authorized that the event could only be broadcast by the Republican Party of Florida’s website? Why no open media or neutral broadcaster?
5. Why is a state political party running gubernatorial events, and again, who is paying? Was it the Florida Chamber of Commerce, whose lobbyist David Hart was on stage, flanking Scott for the bill signing, or the National Federation of Independent Business, whose lobbyist Allen Douglas was onstage with Scott, too?
6. Who paid for the charter school students to be bused in, and who made their “homemade” signs? Who was coaching them to chant Rick Scott’s campaign slogan “let’s get to work”?
Florida taxpayers deserve to know whether special interest groups, including the “tea party” — are being allowed to run state events, including signings of public bills. They deserve to know if their own tax dollars are being used to stage partisan events. They deserve to know why fellow Floridians are being kicked out of bill signings, under the color of the authority of the governor, and using the state’s taxpayer-paid police force to do it.
TRR will attempt to get a statement from the governor’s office responding to these questions. Yeah, I know. Good luck with that.