Even before the event happens, Florida Democrats are saying Gov. Rick Scott is again blurring the lines between campaigning and governing, and is using taxpayer money to pay for campaign appearances, with a forum at a Tampa high school today.
Scott is scheduled to meet with a group of parents and students at Jefferson High School at 2 p.m. to discuss tuition costs. It’s an official Governor’s Office event, paid for with tax dollars.
But this morning, well before the event, Scott’s re-election campaign released advance statements it said Scott will make at the event, in which he bashes his likely Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, for allowing tuition at state universities to increase.
In an email news release titled, “Gov. Scott to Swing at Charlie Crist Today on Tuition Hikes” sent out at 8:45 a.m. today, Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair included “a sneak peek at his remarks” on the subject.
Blair later told Matt Dixon of the Scripps/Tribune Capital Bureau the campaign had those remarks because Scott will be giving them to reporters after the state event as a candidate, not in his official capacity as governor.
“He will be giving those to a gaggle [group] of reporters after the event,” Blair said.
Asked who wrote the comments, Blair said “It’s irrelevant.” Asked whether the Governor’s Office wrote the comments, Governor’s Office spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said only, “Contact the campaign,” but spokesman John Tupps later said the office did not write them.
The sequence of events suggests coordination of events between the governor’s office and the campaign, which is illegal, said Kevin Cate, spokesman for the Crist campaign.
Blair said there is no coordination, but the campaign does discuss planning with Scott.
“The governor is a candidate for office, is he not supposed to talk to us?” said Blair, who called the line of questioning “a fabricated controversy.”
The event comes one day after Crist voiced similar criticism of Scott over a forum held with seniors last week last week slamming Affordable Care Act. Video of the taxpayer-funded, official event later was used in a Scott campaign web ad.
Blair said that the campaign sent a staffer to shoot that event after seeing it on Scott’s public schedule.