McCollum Wins Big Endorsements, Scott's Link to Fraud Cited

Monday, 02 Aug 2010 03:18 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Florida gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum on Sunday gained endorsements from two prominent Florida newspapers, the Tampa Tribune and the Miami Herald.

Both papers pointed to his Republican primary opponent Rick Scott’s reign as CEO of healthcare company Columbia/HCA, which was charged by the federal government with the largest Medicare fraud in history, as a key reason they are giving their nod to McCollum.

The Tampa Tribune, which has a Republican editorial stance, referred to Scott’s “suspicious background” and stated that he “doesn’t have the credentials or the credibility” to be Florida’s governor.

The Tampa Tribune Editorial Board pointed out: “The federal government found Scott’s healthcare company systematically defrauded taxpayers.

Among other schemes, it billed for lab tests that were not needed, added diagnosis codes to patients’ records to increase hospital reimbursements and even claimed marketing and advertising costs as community education so it could be reimbursed by taxpayers.

“The fraud led to Columbia/HCA paying a record-setting $1.7 billion in fines.
“Scott, who left the company in 1997 as the investigation became public, artfully says he accepts responsibility but denies knowing about the offenses.”

But Scott “can’t have it both ways,” according to the Tribune. “If he was not involved in the scam, he was clueless, which does not suggest he will tend to the details of managing the state.”

The Herald cited “persistent questions” about Scott’s role at Columbia/HCA in the 1990s, and stated: “Mr. Scott maintains that he knew nothing about the company’s widespread fraudulent practices. This begs voters’ credulity.

“Fortunately for Republicans, they have an abler alternative in Mr. McCollum, whose public service record is an open book.”

The Tribune also said McCollum, Florida’s attorney general, “has, by far, the superior background and character for the job.”

So far, Scott has spent approximately $30 million of his own money to influence the election, but leading conservatives and grassroots groups are sticking with McCollum.

McCollum has won the endorsement of former Fla. governor Jeb Bush, Tea Party favorite Dick Armey, Steve Forbes, Dick Morris, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, among others. John Stemberger, who heads the largest pro-family group in Florida, has also backed McCollum.

The GOP primary will be held on Aug. 24.

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