TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is escalating his increasingly bitter feud with some of his fellow Republicans by using money from his political organization to pay for television ads that will soon hit the airwaves in the nation’s third-largest state.
Scott has been harshly critical of GOP legislators who are pushing to shutter the state’s economic development agency and overhaul the agency responsible for luring tourists to Florida’s well-known beaches and theme parks.
A new spot that will air statewide features Scott warning that “Tallahassee politicians don’t get it” and that the move will cost the state jobs.
“If the politicians in Tallahassee say they don’t want to market our state, and we lose tourists, then we’re gonna lose jobs,” said Scott in the ad.
The ad will be paid for by Let’s Get to Work, a political committee controlled by Scott that relies on private donations and not taxpayer money. Those who have donated in the last two months include some of the state’s large corporations including Florida Power & Light, Disney, Duke Energy, the grocery chain Publix and rental car company Hertz.
Let’s Get to Work has not disclosed how much will be spent on the ads, which will start airing next week.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has made eliminating the state’s economic development agency, also known as Enterprise Florida, a top priority. The Florida House earlier this month passed a bill to eliminate the agency. House Republicans passed a separate measure that places tight restrictions on Visit Florida. Visit Florida, which promotes tourism, came under fire for signing a secret $1 million deal with rapper Pitbull that called on him to promote the state.
The legislation still must clear the Florida Senate and so far Senate Republicans have refused to go along with the proposal. But that hasn’t stopped Scott, a former health care executive first elected in 2010, from going after House leaders. This past week he visited a Tallahassee manufacturing plant where he praised local Democrats for voting against the House proposal.
Corcoran and other Republicans have defended their actions. Corcoran has called support for Enterprise Florida— which uses taxpayer money to help lure companies to the state —”corporate welfare.”