Veteran political analyst Dick Morris has endorsed Bill McCollum in his race against multimillionaire Rick Scott for the Republican nomination to fill the Florida governor post Charlie Crist is vacating.
“Electing Bill McCollum as Florida's next governor is crucial to our efforts to take back America,” Morris said. “Florida has 25 congressmen — more than any state other than California and Texas.
“Whoever wins this election will control the reapportionment after the 2010 Census. How these lines are drawn could affect whether five to 10 seats go Democrat or Republican.
“McCollum, who has served as a distinguished attorney general of this swing state, is facing a primary contest from an opponent, Rick Scott, who has made millions in highly questionable billings under the Medicaid and Medicare program,” Morris said.
“His financial dealings have come under great scrutiny. But he is using his gains to fund a campaign of smear against McCollum.
“I do not normally make endorsements in primary contests, but I urge everyone to support McCollum in the Florida governor's race of 2010.”
Scott is waging a multimillion-dollar TV ad effort in what critics say is an effort to buy the GOP nomination. Papers he filed on Friday show that he has a net worth of $219 million, making him the wealthiest candidate ever to run for Florida governor.
Scott was CEO of healthcare company Columbia/HCA in the 1990s, when the FBI launched a multistate probe that led to the firm’s pleading guilty to criminal charges of overbilling the government.
Among the fraudulent practices the investigation uncovered were billing Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary lab tests, and creating false diagnoses to claim higher reimbursement, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel disclosed in May.
“It was and still is the biggest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history and ended with the hospital giant Columbia/HCA paying a record $1.7 billion in fines, penalties and damages,” the newspaper reported.
Scott has not denied the allegations and surprisingly said he accepts “responsibility for what happened on my watch” at Columbia/HCA. He insists that the “very hard lessons” he learned from the experience “have helped me become a better businessman and leader,” the Lakeland, Fla., Ledger reported.
McCollum’s campaign manager, Matt Williams, alleged that Scott’s “hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
He said in a statement on Friday: “Using stolen taxpayer dollars, he has made questionable business decisions that would make any conservative ashamed to call him one of our own.”
The McCollum campaign said in an earlier statement: “In August, Florida voters will have a clear choice between Bill McCollum, a candidate who has fought fraud as Florida’s attorney general, and Rick Scott, a candidate who has committed it.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also has endorsed McCollum strongly.
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