The Florida First Initiative, a political group that supports Bill McCollum’s candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Florida, has launched a new television ad hitting his opponent Rick Scott for failing to “come clean” with voters about new allegations of fraud and criminal activity at the healthcare company Scott now heads, Solantic Urgent Care.
“Rick Scott has spent nearly $50 million in false and misleading television (advertisements) attacking Bill McCollum in a desperate ploy to distract from his shady and unethical business record,” Haley McConnell, spokeswoman for The Florida First Initiative, Inc., said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“Now, shocking new reports reveal allegations of criminal activity at the company he founded, Solantic. Rick Scott tried to hide the fact he was deposed in the case just days before entering the governor’s race and now he refuses to release the documents and his deposition.
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“With just one week until Election Day, the one question on the mind of all Florida Republicans is ‘What else is Rick Scott hiding?’”
Two physicians who worked for Solantic — a chain of walk-in clinics — claim that the company repeatedly used their names and medical license information without their permission in order to keep the clinics operating legally, according to an investigation by The Florida Independent.
One of the physicians, Dr. Randy Prokes, said he discovered documents showing that Solantic was improperly billing Medicare when a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor saw a patient.
Scott gave a videotaped deposition in the case of the other physician, Dr. P. Mark Glencross, six days before he announced his candidacy for governor.
At a press conference on Aug. 10, Scott cut off reporters repeatedly when he was asked about the deposition, snapping: You can ask the question 100 times and get the same answer. It’s a private matter.”
The First Florida Initiative makes reference to Scott’s role as CEO of another healthcare firm, the hospital giant Columbia/HCA.
In 1997, Scott was forced to resign from the company while it was being investigated for massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The firm pleaded guilty to criminal charges of overbilling the government in what remains the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history, which ended with
Columbia/HCA paying a record $1.7 billion in fines, penalties and damages.
In the ad, an announcer states: “Rick Scott’s company pleaded guilty to one of the largest Medicare frauds in American history.”
The First Florida Initiative video then shows Scott saying in a TV ad: “As CEO, I take responsibility.”
Announcer: “And now, reporters have uncovered another Scott company accused of criminal acts. But Scott won’t come clean.”
Scott: “It’s a private matter.”
Announcer: “He won’t answer reporters or release his sworn deposition.”
Scott: “It’s a private matter. I’m not doing it.”
Announcer: “Rick Scott, it’s not a private matter. It’s a failure of character.”
The stated mission of The Florida First Initiative, Inc. is “to identify candidates that have exemplified themselves as experienced conservatives and innovative thinkers.”
Ten prominent Florida lawmakers have issued a call for Scott to release the deposition and other documents or withdraw from the race for the good of the Republican Party.
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