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Scott brags on record, faults Crist in taxpayer-funded letters

Tribune staff
Published: November 19, 2013 Updated: November 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Gov. Rick Scott's letters to new lawyers on official letterhead parrot his campaign talking points. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is known as the 'jobs' governor, but he's happy to take on another title: Florida's braggart-in-chief.

“Gosh, I think every Floridian ought to brag about our state,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Look, we live in a great state.”

Scott responded to a question about his sending out letters on official letterhead congratulating new lawyers on passing the Florida Bar.

The letters, dated Oct. 30, are similar in tone to those he sent to new business owners earlier this year.

He first takes a swipe at former Republican governor and now Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, whom Scott succeeded in office.

Scott's letter notes, without naming Crist, that he inherited a state that had “lost more than 832,000 jobs” while “state debt increased by $5.2 billion, our housing market had collapsed, our economy was off track, and our families were hurting.”

He then goes on to tout the state's job creation, decrease in unemployment, low taxes and efficient government under his administration.

The letter to business owners includes more personal touches, discussing his childhood growing up in public housing and his first job “… selling TV Guides door to door.”

In sum, the letters parrot many of Scott's talking points as he heads toward the 2014 election season.

Scott still hasn't formally filed for re-election, though he revived his “Let's Get to Work” political committee from the 2010 campaign, which already has raised $23 million this go-round.

Since announcing his candidacy Nov. 4, Crist has raised nearly $900,000 through his committee, “Charlie Crist for Florida.”

State funds have been used to send the congratulatory letters to businesses, at a cost of $9,697 from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation's administrative expense fund, according to spokeswoman Tajiana Ancora-Brown.

She said the department was not involved in sending the attorneys' letter, and the Governor's Office did not respond to a request for information on that mailing.

“Over the past three years, Rick Scott has tried and failed to win voters over,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele said. “Using taxpayer dollars to fund yet another campaign gimmick shows just how desperate Rick Scott is going into 2014.”

But Scott said he'll keep sending such letters as Florida's chief executive — and cheerleader.

“Jobs are coming back and people are doing wonderful things,” the governor said. “We've got great teachers; we've got great volunteers. We've got heroes. I want to congratulate everybody in our state that's doing a great job and I'm going to continue to do that.”

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