Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is running for a seat in the state Senate, used his private jet to commute to a Senate campaign stop, which sort of defeats the purpose of “Make Washington Work" bus tour. That's right: Bus tour.
Scott's campaign said he had to use his plane because he couldn’t get from an official hearing of the Clemency Board in Tallahassee to the predominantly Republican Villages retirement community in time.
Chris Hartline, a campaign spokesman, justified the use of the private plane, saying the following:
Clemency is an important duty that the governor takes very seriously. He took a break from the bus tour today to attend to his official duties and flew to meet the bus in The Villages. Gov. Scott is able to run an aggressive campaign while continuing to perform his official duties, unlike Bill Nelson, who can’t do either.
Hartline said, however, that he does not know if Scott has or will use his plane on other occasions to get around instead of using the bus.
The snafu prompted Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Scott's opponent, Democrat Bill Nelson, to say that it shows that "Rick Scott can't be trusted."
“He’s a phony political leader on a phony bus tour selling a phony plan for his phony campaign,” McLaughlin said. “Everything he does is secretive aimed at shielding or hiding what he’s up to when it comes to public scrutiny.”
Once news of the incident hit the internet, people proceeded to savage Scott.
Leave it to @FLGovScott to use a plane as part of his "bus tour." Typical politician. Let's make sure we re-elect… https://t.co/L2LXggkRp1— Roy David Walker (@Roy David Walker) 1536752665.0
Not even surprised that @FLGovScott would take a private jet to join a stop of his “bus tour.” He is a fraud, has a… https://t.co/fLSpvIwQcT— rocco (@rocco) 1536762927.0
Good News for GOP Rick Scott supporters, Your campaign donations are now supporting Gov. Scott's Private Jet.… https://t.co/moolLklZUZ— Bonrat (@Bonrat) 1536759362.0
Scott's itinerary has been shrouded in secrecy, so much so, in fact, that one advocacy group went to court last week to force him to disclose it. Scott has removed his jet’s tail numbers from public flight-tracking services.
This incident comes after Republicans criticized Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill for using a private plane during parts of her RV tour of Missouri this summer. McCaskill admitted using the plane after the Washington Free Beacon relayed that the movements of her private jet had closely tracked with certain legs of a three-day RV tour to promote veterans issues.
McCaskill called the report inaccurate and dismissed suggestions that she was trying to hide her use of the plane altogether.
"The plane picked me up at the end of one day after I spent all day on the RV and it took me to my overnight location," she told CNN at the time. "And the next day we used the plane to add a stop. But I was on the RV totally -- two of the three days I was out. Anybody could have followed me ... they could have seen me when I got off the RV and when I got on the airplane ....there was no effort to hide anything."
Republicans have been noticeably mum on the news of Scott's own jet plane use––this is second transportation faux pas that Scott has committed since August.
On August 24, Scott's campaign tweeted that Florida has not received "its fair share of federal transportation funding for decades."
Florida hasn’t received its fair share of federal transportation funding for decades. That’s wrong, and as your Sen… https://t.co/ouS4xwSaIo— Rick Scott (@Rick Scott) 1535136540.0
In fact, Scott had rejected billions of dollars for a high-speed rail in the state in 2011, as former Republican state senator Paula Dockery pointed out.
Oh pleeeze, you sent back $2.2 BILLION for first leg of High Speed Rail from Tampa to Orlando which would have been… https://t.co/1QvI42Wd5G— Paula Dockery (@Paula Dockery) 1535250872.0
Scott's campaign denied that his rejection of the deal and his campaign promise were connected.
"High-speed rail was a multi-billion dollar boondoggle paid for with one-time money from the stimulus bill," a spokesperson for Scott told the Tampa Bay Times. "This is unrelated to the decades-long inequity between what Florida sends to the federal government and what we receive back in infrastructure funding. Bill Nelson has failed for decades to fix this problem."