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Bill McCollum Says He Respects Rick Scott Only Days After Calling Him a Fraud

For Immediate Release: May 26, 2010
Bill McCollum Says He Respects Rick Scott Only Days After Calling Him a Fraud
Yesterday, while campaigning in Jacksonville, career politician Bill McCollum told reporters that he “respects” his Republican Primary opponent, disgraced executive Rick Scott.  This comes only days after McCollum’s campaign put out a statement blasting Scott, calling him a “fraud” and saying the former Columbia/HCA executive “barely escaped imprisonment.”
“We would like some clarification from Bill McCollum on what exactly he respects about Rick Scott,” said Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.  “Does he respect the fact that Scott was able to avoid imprisonment as McCollum’s campaign claimed?  That wouldn’t be surprising given how hard Bill McCollum fought in Congress to gut the law that helped prosecute the deceptive and fraudulent business practices at Rick Scott’s company.”
McCollum’s sudden de-escalation in rhetoric against Scott may be connected with the Times/Herald story earlier this week that highlighted McCollum’s efforts to weaken whistleblower protection laws regarding fraud at Ricks Scott’s Columbia/HCA hospitals and others. Scott’s company later pled guilty in the largest Medicare fraud case in American history, paying $1.7 billion in penalties.
“Maybe it’s understandable that Bill McCollum would back off in his rhetoric against Rick Scott — after all, how can he call Scott a fraud after McCollum pushed for changes to encourage that fraud by making cases harder to file?” Jotkoff asked.
McCollum has repeatedly changed his tune when discussing his primary opponent:
April 13:  Upon Rick Scott’s entry into the race, McCollum’s campaign publicly said, “We respect the right of any Floridian to seek office,” while privately pushing negative talking points about him to supporters.
May 5: A month later (and after Scott had spent millions on  television ads and McCollum’s lead was cut to only 14 points in the GOP primary), McCollum’s campaign stated, “Rick Scott is a relatively unknown candidate that will have to answer some very serious questions about his history if he is to be viewed as a credible candidate.”
May 18: Not one to be consistent, two weeks later McCollum’s campaign manager sent out the email labeling Scott a “fraud” and stating that he “barely escaped imprisonment.”
May 25: Now, McCollum seems to be changing his tune yet again, saying he “respects” Scott.  Said McCollum, “I respect him. He’s got a lot of wealth but I don’t know him personally. I would suggest that when people get to know our records and compare records experience and character.”

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