Major Issue in Florida GOP Governor Primary: Who Hates the Gay More? (Updated)
I HATE THE GAY MORE THAN HE DOES is apparently the new message of millionaire Rick Scott as he unleashes his latest attack on Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in the run up to the Republican Primary for Governor in Florida.
For those not following the race in Florida (I live here so I am paying close attention), Bill McCollum was the presumed Republican nominee for the upcoming Florida Governor’s race, (much like Governor Charlie Christ was the presumed Republican nominee for the upcoming U.S. Senate race before Tea Party favorite Marcos Rubio edged him out of the primary and the party), but recent polls have shown that Rick Scott is taking the lead—not unexpected considering he’s spent at $20 million of his own money running television attack ads against McCollum.
McCollum finally decided to strike back recently by attacking Scott’s pro-life credentials in a mailer that says Scott, who made his millions as the CEO of Columbia HCA, “profited from abortion,” thanks to the fact that the procedure was performed at some Columbia-run hospitals.
Scott fired back by releasing his own attack tying McCollum to Rudy Giuliani, a “pro-abortion” politician” and possibly even worse…a “pro-homosexual rights candidate.”
I was already going to oppose McCollum based largely on his opposition to fair adoption laws in Florida—we are the only state the specifically bans members of the LGBT community from adopting. I wrote about the case that will soon be at the Florida Supreme Court in a past blog posting: Everybody Run, That Homosexual Wants a Son, wherein I repudiated McCollum’s support for the law.
Additionally, I wrote another piece on George Rekers, the Gay Anti-Gay Activist Paid $120,000 for Anti-Gay Testimony by FL in the adoption case led by McCollum. So I find it fascinating…nay scary, that Scott is trying to one up him on fear and hatred of “the gay.”
It’s not that I am surprised, I really didn’t expect anything less from a man who was forced to resign as CEO Columbia HCA due to the massive systematic fraud and felonies committed by the company while under his guidance up until 1997. The company pled guilty and paid a $1.7 billion fine—at that time the largest government fraud settlement in U.S. history.
Scott did not get charged, in fact, he left with a substantial golden parachute consisting of $10 million and $300 million in stocks. Whether he actively participated in the fraud or somehow managed to operate a large company where he was blissfully ignorant of the company’s practices makes him a far from perfect candidate for governor to me.
- To help you understand how big this was and how unlikely it is that Scott was unaware of the massive mega-fraud that Columbia HCA perpetrated on insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and even TRICARE, the health plan that covers our veterans, here is a list of offenses:
- Intentional year-end record fraud alleging payments from the government less than actually received, leaving the government with the burden of overpaying them.
- Payment of kickbacks to providers to inflate claims billed to Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE.
- Billing costs to the government which were not allowed.
- Inflating the cost of transferring patients from HCA facilities to other, non-HCA facilities.
- Inflating claims for indigent patients.
- Paying kickbacks for diabetes patients.
- Overbilling states for Medicaid patients
- Columbia billed Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs for tests that were not necessary or ordered by physicians.
- The company attached false diagnosis codes to patient records to increase reimbursement to the hospitals.
- The company illegally claimed non-reimbursable marketing and advertising costs as community education.
- Columbia billed the government for home health care visits for patients who did not qualify to receive them.
The entire list and summary of the case is on the DOJ website. And of course, let’s not forget the shareholders who lost massive amounts of money because of the fraud and abuse that happened on his watch.
According to the New York Times:
“Though Mr. Scott was not directly implicated in the fraud scandal — with whistle-blower suits filed against some hospitals before his acquisition of them — critics said his drive for profits had created incentive for fraud.”
“The practices did pre-exist Rick Scott,’ said Stephen Meagher, a lawyer who represented some of the ex-employees whose complaints prompted the initial investigation. “They were aggravated by the pressure he put on HCA employees.”
As I said previously, this is too pervasive for Scott not to at least know about it, if not actually have a hand in the practices.
Scott was the CEO, so he bears more than a little responsibility and while he has admitted that he made a “mistake” nobody has yet been able to discern how much he knew, and when he knew it. I’d prefer not to hear that phrase while he is in the Governor’s mansion.
As if all that weren’t enough, Scott chastised Crist for vetoing the state bill that would have REQUIRED a woman to get a medically unnecessary and extremely intrusive vaginal ultrasound accompanied by a lecture on abortion that could not be covered by private or government health insurance i.e. SHE WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR THE INDIGNITY.
Scott also supports Arizona’s “Breathing While Brown Law” which he hopes to bring to Florida. Considering how many Puerto Ricans (they are U.S. citizens–dontcha know) and Cubans (they get automatic immigration rights if one foot touches U.S. soil) populate the state, I am not sure how he will tell the good brown from the bad brown. Looking at how much money Arizona has lost in tourism and how much Florida is likely to lose this summer due the oil spill in the gulf, I think it would be simply brilliant to give people another reason not to visit Florida (note my heavy sarcasm).
This is not the man I want leading Florida. Anyone that led a company that defrauded the government and taxpayers, is willing to force unnecessary material and mental costs on a woman who is already struggling with a difficult choice, and who want to use fear of the “other” to bring about his own personal gain.
Now this is not to say that I in anyway support Bill McCollum, but it does mean that I want those people that care about a woman’s right to choose, about equal rights for the LGBT community, and about a sensible immigration policy to vote for and assist, in any way you can, the candidacy of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink who will likely be the Democratic nominee for Governor.
I have to modify my call for people who care about LGBT rights to vote for Alex Sink. When I wrote that I was operating on the prior knowledge of how she had recently won Equality Florida’s esteemed “Voice of Equality” award in 2009, but unfortunately instead of trumpeting her support for LGBTs she has pulled back her support, at least as far as equal marriage rights goes. It is not a surprising political move since it is such a volatile issue, but it is disappointing because I think she probably really does support equal marriage rights so I have to assume she is making a political calculation.
I may now find myself voting for Darrin McGillis in the upcoming Democratic primary: www.mcgillis4governor.com
I apologize to all readers for not re-verify Sink’s position before I recommended her as a viable option for those concerned about equality for the LGBT community. I requested people to support her because of what I knew in the past, but when facts change I am always willing to reevaluate my position.
I admit I may still vote for her in the general election if my choice is between her and Rick Scott or Bill McCollum, but I will be hard pressed to vote for her in the primary at this point.