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Politics

Gov's failed reappointments could cost him votes in 2014

A decision to vote against a massive prison privatization effort might have cost one Senator’s son not to get reappointed to a state panel.  Sascha Cordner has more.

Just an hour before a vote came down in the Senate to decide the fate of an effort to privatize about 30 South Florida prisons, Governor Rick Scott asked Republican Senator Dennis Jones to meet with him, in hopes of convincing him to change his vote.

Jones declined the meeting, because he says he felt strongly about his view on the negative effects of prison privatization and knew he would not be switching his vote.

Now, just about a couple of months later, when Scott made 344 gubernatorial reappointments, he left 10 people off the list, including two people from Pinellas County who had the backing of Senator Jones:

 “One being my son on the board of Chiropractic and the other being Ken Burke, who’s on Saint Petersburg College Board of Trustees and has been on that board for several years. I was surprised with both of them because both of them have served with distinction, but my son was reappointed by Governor Crist and reappointed by Governor Scott and was currently serving as chairman of the board.”

When asked if he thought Scott’s decision had to do with Jones’ refusal to take the meeting, Jones said:

“Oh, you could read that into it?”

He says while Scott’s within his rights to make such a decision, Jones thought it was a bit strange:

 “I just thought with the Governor’s poll numbers where they are, lowest in the state of Florida. It’s surprising he’s reducing the amount of people who would normally be on his re-election team. Because, obviously with actions like this, you’re certainly not going to support the Governor.”

The Governor Tuesday did not confirm or deny if politics played a role in his decision. When asked specifically about Jones’ son, Scott would only say:

“I don’t want to talk about any one person. This is an issue that I had the opportunity to reappoint people where I thought they’d do a good job, and I thought there were a handful of people I thought I’d go in a different direction.”

But, Senator Jones says if the Governor did make his decision based on the prison privatization effort, Scott will have to answer to the Pinellas County voters in the Governor’s bid for re-election.