Steve Forbes: Why I Oppose Rick Scott

Wednesday, 07 Jul 2010 10:54 PM

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Publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes slammed Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott Wednesday in a column that endorsed his opponent, Republican state Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Forbes cited Scott's role in the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history and even questioned his business competence, suggesting Scott was not even qualified to run a "lemonade stand."

Scott and McCollum are locked in a tight Republican primary race. Scott has a narrow lead in several polls but has poured some $20 million of his own money into the race. On Wednesday he filed suit in federal court in an effort to prevent McCollum from receiving public financing under Florida state law.

While praising McCollum for his detailed economic plan and deep leadership “on the issues that matter to Florida Republicans,” Forbes noted Scott’s troubled tenure as CEO of a major hospital chain, HCA/Columbia, that paid a $1.7-billion fine for Medicare fraud.

“After years investigating HCA, federal law enforcement officials found evidence that Scott's hospitals kept two sets of books, Forbes wrote in an op-ed published in The Tampa Tribune. “The first tracked actual expenses, while the second contained inflated figures that were submitted to the government for reimbursement. By the time charges were filed, HCA officials admitted to systematically overcharging the government - and by extension taxpayers - with fraudulent claims, including exaggerating the treatment of Medicare patients to increase billings.

“It should be noted that while HCA agreed to plead guilty to 14 felonies in five states, Scott himself was never charged with any crimes due to differences in the laws at the time. But there's a higher standard than just indictment here, and it's one that requires all Republican voters to ask themselves: "What did Scott know about HCA's criminal conduct, and when did he know it?"’

Forbes wrote that even if Scott was unaware of the fraud, the idea that such a massive crime occurred while he was chief executive raises serious questions about his ability to manage.

“Sounds like the CEO of BP ducking responsibility for the safety of BP's offshore oil rigs,” Forbes wrote.

If Scott wins the Republican nomination for governor, Forbes said, Democrats are sure to make hay out of his staggering history of mismanagement.

“In the face of such stunning managerial incompetence, how could anyone decide Scott was qualified to run a lemonade stand, let alone the nation's fourth-largest state?” Forbes added.

Read the entire story at The Tampa Tribune.

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