A national report airing on CNN Wednesday accuses Florida Gov. Rick Scott of engaging in “pay-to-play” politics by accepting money and fundraising help from a D.C. lobbyist who’d won a state contract a year earlier. But the Republican Party of Florida says the report is based on inferences and lacks evidence Scott did anything wrong.
The "Anderson Cooper 360" investigative report casts Scott as a political extortionist who awarded a $1.8 million lobbying contract to one of his supporters, former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi. Principi hosted a $2,500-a-seat November fundraiser for Scott and contributed $10,000 to his reelection campaign – which drew this reaction from CNN reporter Drew Griffin:
“That D.C. fundraiser, that $10,000 donation, the $1.8 million dollar contract: It’s all just a coincidence.”
But Florida Republican Party spokeswoman Susan Hepworth says CNN’s insinuation that the governor awarded the contract because of financial gain is baseless.
“This governor doesn’t answer to money. He doesn’t even take a paycheck from the Florida taxpayers, so these implications are just false," she said, adding, "The governor makes his decisions based on what is best for Florida, what will create jobs, lasting jobs and lasting careers and what will be good for education.”
Principi’s contract was signed a year before he hosted the D.C. fundraiser.