Gov. Scott leads trade mission to Paris
TALLAHASSEE - Florida Gov. Rick Scott is leaving Friday on another foreign trip, this time heading to Paris for a week to attend an international air show. Scott is leading a delegation of nearly 100 people, which includes first lady Ann Scott, business executives, three legislators and politicians such as Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. This marks Scott’s ninth-trade related trip abroad since he became governor in 2011. He has already visited such far-flung places as Brazil, Israel, Canada, Spain, England and Chile. The Republican governor is scheduled to visit Japan in October. Scott, who visited an air show last year in London, contends that the trips abroad help his quest to create more jobs.“It’s all about jobs,” Scott said the day before he departed. “You just keep building these relationships and get more jobs for Florida.” The Paris Air Show is considered one of the world’s leading aviation and aerospace trade fairs. The last air show held in 2011 attracted more than 350,000 attendees. Florida, with its mix of airports and military installations, is a leading state in the nation when it comes to the aerospace industry. The state exports aircraft parts and equipment to nations around the world. The state will have a pavilion in Paris where it will showcase 12 Florida-based aerospace and aviation companies. The pavilion will also include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as well as economic development agencies from Jacksonville and Miami. Scott is scheduled to meet with representatives of aviation and aerospace companies during the trip. He will also attend a reception hosted by the U.S. ambassador to France and meet with the French minister of foreign affairs. The governor’s travel costs are picked up by Enterprise Florida, which uses private donations from large Florida-based companies to cover the costs. For example, the trade mission last December to Colombia included sponsors such as FPL, the Florida Ports Council, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the law firm of Holland & Knight. A 2006 opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics maintains this arrangement does not violate the state’s strict ban on gifts from companies that lobby the governor’s office. But taxpayers still have expenses on these trips because they pick up the travel tab for governor’s office employees and for his security detail. Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development outfit, reported that taxpayers spent nearly $30,000 on Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents that went on the four-day trip to Colombia. An Enterprise Florida spokesman said this week that expenses have not been finalized for Scott’s trip last month to Chile.