President Donald Trump says he wants Florida Gov. Rick Scott to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in next year’s elections.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a run for Florida Senator.
The required process to remove an elected politician is difficult and rarely successful. A viable solution that can raise the integrity of Florida politicians is to be pro-active.
We are all familiar with election season. Learning about all the candidates is an impossible task. When the time comes to vote, we either don’t bother or select someone we know very little about and hope for a good outcome. Politicians know this and aggressively frame themselves as the right candidate. It becomes a numbers game. And the more money a candidate spends, the more numbers come their way.
Current Governor Rick Scott pulled off a narrow victory in 2014 against Charlie Crist. He spent $100 million to do it. $13 million from his personal funds. Scott officially obliterated the state record for campaign spending in 2010 pouring $85 million, including more than $73 million of his own family’s money, into getting elected.
Floridamarijuana.net indicated recently in our piece entitled Adam Putnam, Director of Marijuana Eradication Program, Wants To Be Governor Of Florida…No Joke! , that we intend to provide our readers with information needed to make good voting decisions. No more guess work and hoping for the best. No more allowing candidates to buy their way into office.
We have 17 months before the 2018 elections. Periodically between now and then, we will present information on those who may be seeking a Florida office for the first time and those attempting re-election.
The 71.3% can come together in our support for specific candidates and the result will be monumental. 71.3% is a big number. Our time has come.
This week we present a deeper profile of the top man in Florida, Governor Rick Scott. Although his current term as Governor will be his final, speculation of a run for Florida Senator prompted us to place him at the top of our list.
You’ve probably heard the campaign line: Rick Scott, son of a trucker and a J.C. Penney clerk. Sold TV Guide, slung newspapers, cleaned phone booths and stocked groceries. Mr. Scott joined the Navy after high school, married his sweetheart, bought a doughnut shop and gave his mother a job, went on to law school and soon began accumulating hospitals. About 10 years later, he owned the largest chain in the country and had a personal net worth in the hundreds of millions.
Now, here is the rest of the story.
Born in Bloomington, Illinois, 1952 and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Rick Scott’s father was in the 82nd Airborne during World War II. After the war, Scott’s father was a city bus driver and then a truck driver. His mother worked as a J.C. Penney clerk. At times the family struggled financially, and when Scott started public school, they lived in public housing.
He learned lessons at Ray’s United Super Market. Richard Scott started working there in high school. Each young employee was assigned an aisle. Scott got the bake aisle. He stocked shelves and swept floors. Often, he came on his own time to make sure aisles were clean and organized. They paid him $1.65 an hour. He saved most of it. When he splurged, it was at Dixon’s Chili Parlor, Velvet Creme or the Dairy Queen.
Young Mr. Scott shot hoops in his back yard or threw the football with about 40 kids in front of his home on north Chelsea Avenue, lined with tidy single-family homes.
Scott kept a low profile in a senior class of about 500, almost all white. He wore a necktie and plaid blazer for senior pictures. While others played sports, ran for student council or participated in chess club, Scott was working or studying.
Governor Scott drove a ’61 Chevy Impala and they often went down to the Plaza in Kansas City, or to the Antioch Center. It was in his senior year that he met Ann Holland, a girl who moved in from Texas.
After high school, Scott went to community college followed by a stint in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Glover as a radar man. When he returned he enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The G.I. Bill enabled Gov. Scott to attend college. While enrolled at the University and working full-time at a grocery store, Gov. Scott and Ann were married. They lived in a basement apartment and went to study groups together. Today, they have been married for 45 years and have two daughters, and four grandsons.
Mr. Scott purchased a failing Flavor Maid Do-Nut shop and revived it by adding workplace delivery, which his father ran, instead of relying on foot traffic. Following that, Scott purchased an additional doughnut shop for his mother to manage.
After graduation from UMKC with a degree in business administration, Gov. Scott and Ann moved to Dallas to pursue a law degree from Southern Methodist University. The doughnut shops paid his way through law school.
He was licensed by the Texas Bar to practice law on November 6, 1978 and worked for the city’s largest law firm, Johnson & Swanson, primarily representing companies in the health care, oil and gas and communication industries. Later, Mr. Scott became a mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer in Dallas when he met a wealthy Texas investor, Richard Rainwater.
It appears that this was the pivotal point in Rick Scott’s life. Had Mr. Scott never met Richard Rainwater, this article would never have been written.
In 1987, he bet it all in a 50-50 partnership with Mr. Rainwater that became Columbia Healthcare. They put down $125,000 each and bought two hospitals in El Paso, Texas, launching a revolution in the nation’s health-care industry. A merger with Hospital Corporation of America in 1989, formed Columbia/HCA and created a 190-hospital colossus stretching across 26 states and two foreign countries eventually becoming the largest private for-profit health care company in the U.S.
Mr. Scott’s six million Columbia shares were worth $173.3 million. Mr. Rainwater’s combined stake of nine million shares of Columbia and HCA was valued at $259 million.
Critics, including some lawmakers, contended that such business relationships were a blatant conflict because they could encourage physicians to order unnecessary treatments and jack up patient bills at hospitals where they have a financial interest.
Scott held the position that selling partnerships to a hospital’s staff physicians helped reduce the cost of providing care by focusing physicians on the bottom line and giving them a voice in a hospital’s operation. Scott had told officials at the time they were well within current Federal guidelines for physician ownership of facilities. The guidelines provided a safe harbor for organizations with physician ownership of 40 percent or less. The original partnership units sold for $15,000 each.
On March 19, 1997, investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso and on dozens of doctors with suspected ties to the company.
Eight days after the initial raid, Scott signed his last SEC report as a hospital executive before resigning on March 27, 1997. Rick Scott became the focus of the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history, spanning six states during a seven-year criminal probe. Mr. Scott resigned from Columbia/HCA four months later under pressure from the board of directors and was never charged with a crime.
Columbia/HCA admitted to systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about use of hospital space. They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, and paid kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients. In addition, they gave doctors loans never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.
In the end, Columbia/HCA paid a record $1.7 billion in fines and pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges for a variety of transgressions. About $30 million in fines stemmed from illegal payments to doctors, a practice federal investigators traced back to El Paso, where Scott and Mr. Rainwater began Columbia in 1987 with the purchase of two distressed hospitals. In all, civil lawsuits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle. At the time, this was the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history.
Scott was paid $9.88 million in a settlement, and left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million. The directors had been warned in the company’s annual public reports to stockholders that incentives Columbia/HCA offered doctors could run afoul of a federal anti-kickback law passed to limit or eliminate instances of conflicts of interest in Medicare and Medicaid.
Rick Scott has said he would have immediately stopped his former hospital company from committing Medicare fraud — if only “somebody would have told me something was wrong.”
The reports said the company believed it was complying with the spirit of the law. But as far back as 1994, three years before the FBI began scrutinizing the company, Columbia/HCA acknowledged that it might not be following the letter of complex health care rules.
Scott today says he doesn’t remember the reports he signed. Before Columbia merged with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Columbia executives were warned as early as May 1988 that the payments to doctors may be illegal, according to a 2001 Justice Department lawsuit against Columbia/HCA.
When the corporate brass asked for a legal opinion, a lawyer said the payments could violate anti-kickback laws, according to the Justice Department lawsuit.
The lawsuit stated, “HCA executives ignored counsel’s advice and structured the transaction exactly as the lawyer warned them not to do.”
Asked about that warning in 2010, Scott said: “I don’t know what the document said. I’m sure they used boilerplate (In information technology, a boilerplate is a unit of writing that can be reused over and over without change. By extension, the idea is sometimes applied to reusable programming as in “boilerplate code.”) which said something about they used all their efforts to comply with all the laws.”
In 2001, Rick Scott co-founded a chain of walk-in urgent care centers. Solantic centered around northeast Florida. He has faced controversies there also.
Hospital expert James Roberts, said Columbia/HCA was playing a “roulette wheel,” betting that the risk of fines was lower than the profitability of the physician arrangements. Roberts agreed that the language about physician payments was “boilerplate” but said Scott being a lawyer as well as a hospital chief executive should have known better.
“What the company didn’t have an appreciation for was all the restrictions and the compliance issues,” Roberts said. “They established a set of rules designed to maximize profit and that inevitably led to a culture where rules were bent for the almighty dollar.”
Scott was scheduled to be interviewed by investigators, according to media reports at the time. During a July 27, 2000, deposition in a civil lawsuit involving an unrelated contract dispute, Scott refused to answer questions by invoking his right to Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination 75 times. A maneuver that can be legally applied only when the witness suspects he is the target of criminal investigation.
Mr.Scott said he pleaded the Fifth to stop a “fishing expedition.” Legal experts have said that, if Scott’s statement is true, he misused the constitutional right against self-incrimination and may be guilty of obstruction of justice.
“I know I can do this. I know I’m the right person,” said Rick Scott. “If career politicians had the solutions, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are.”
At the time, speculation as to whether party loyalty or the desire for a “maverick” politician would lead voters to cast their ballot for a man who ran a corporation that was assessed the largest fine for Medicare fraud in history? Would Scott’s steadfast refusal to respond to questions about his former company’s Medicare history, either under oath or during the campaign, cast doubt on his willingness to be open or honest if he were elected governor?
Scott said on his website that “mistakes” were made at Columbia/HCA and that he takes “responsibility” for what happened. Otherwise, he has always been evasive on his role in the fraud. He repeatedly tells people to go to his website to get his side of the story, then quickly tries to move on to other subjects. Throughout the campaign, he dodged debates and media interviews.
He openly stated his intentions to replicate his Columbia/HCA cost-cutting strategies in state government, advocating deep cuts in spending on prisons and health care to pay for deep cuts in property taxes and the elimination of the corporate income tax.
In 2010, Scott defeated Bill McCollum in the vigorously contested Republican primary election and narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Alex Sink in a close race in the general election, spending roughly $73 million of his own money in the process. In 2014, he won re-election over former Republican turned Democratic challenger, former governor Charlie Crist and several third-party and/or independent candidates.
Scott’s net worth was estimated at $218.6 million in 2010, $83.8 million in 2012, and $132.7 million in 2013.On July 1, 2015, it was reported that Scott’s net worth had grown to $147 million.
Gov. Scott is touted as an innovator in business, health care, and politics by the republican party. According to official statements, his specialization was in health care mergers and acquisitions, and it was during his work on these transactions that he recognized how patients could be better served by improving hospital efficiency, lowering costs, and focusing on better outcomes.
To present the whole story of Governor Rick Scott would be quite lengthy. Here are a selection of links which discusses additional controversy during Scott’s tenure.
Our intent is to provide a deeper understanding in the life of Rick Scott. The information provided has barely scratched the surface. We encourage further research so you feel comfortable with your convictions, whatever they are. The most important aspect is to have good reasons for our vote.
Please share this with others. If we continue this path for the next 17 months, we will all have a good understanding of the candidates and respond accordingly.
Ideally, if this process would be continued over the next 2-3 election cycles, the 71.3% would acquire a strong voice. Politicians in Florida would be forced to address us and value our endorsements. Any candidate who can garner over 50% over the voters by responding to their needs, they will do it. Especially when they all begin to learn that with us supporting them,they will be taking the high road.
Our group has class, morals and good standards. All we asked for in the beginning was a legal opportunity to grow cannabis and create easy access for patients at a fair price. I imagine how an open system could have blown Florida up…in a superb fashion. So many jobs. Right now, privately formed businesses in the industry would be scrambling to hire people all over the state. Only a few months remain and so much to do. Everyone would be busy, happy, and excited with a new purpose, a new dream.
Mr. Scott never had that vision.