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Florida Lawmakers: Connections Between Scott and the NRA Deeply Concerning

Last week, Politico Magazine reported on the deep connections between one of Rick Scott’s closest political advisers and the National Rifle Association. The report revealed the NRA used the same consultants as Scott in 2014, which could be unlawful. In response, lawmakers from around Florida called out Scott’s history of being in the pocket of the NRA:

Congressman Ted Deutch: “America’s campaign finance laws are a mess. The bar for ethical and legal conduct is laughably low, and yet, it looks like Rick Scott may have been one of several Republicans who found a way to sneak under that low bar. What’s worse is that this shady politicking is funded with gun lobby money. Rick Scott owes it to Florida voters to give a full accounting of his coordination with groups like the NRA.”

State Rep. Shevrin Jones: “This report about potentially unlawful coordination between the NRA and Rick Scott is very concerning. Rick Scott has boasted an A+ rating from the NRA, and he has spent years as Governor fighting against commonsense gun safety measures. Now, we might have a clearer picture to why — Scott was once again taking care of his donors and benefactors, rather than Floridians.”

State Rep. Carlos G. Smith: “Rick Scott let 612 days between Pulse and Parkland pass without any attempt to address gun violence. Scott has always been the NRA’s darling, but this reporting shows just how deep in bed he continues to be with the group. Yet, this is typical Rick Scott. He does little to help the people of Florida, but coddles his donors and lobbyist friends by advancing their disgraceful agendas. He should be ashamed.”

Here are some key sections from Politico Magazine’s report:

“This year, at least one of the contests that will determine control of the Senate features a candidate who has tapped OnMessage while benefitting from the firm’s work on behalf of the NRA, according to the former OnMessage employee. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott is challenging Senator Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent. In his last gubernatorial campaign, Scott hired OnMessage. The NRA, the former employee says, tapped the firm for pro-Scott work. But in Florida campaign-finance records, which do not require filers to disclose the races in which money is spent, it’s Starboard that appears as a vendor. Scott’s chief political adviser is Curt Anderson, a partner at both OnMessage and Starboard, and Scott’s Senate campaign has signed up OnMessage as a contractor. The NRA, which bashed the gun control package Scott signed in March after the Parkland school shooting, has yet to wade into the race, but its federal agenda depends on preserving a Republican majority in the Senate. The Florida race is likely to be the most competitive, and most expensive, of 2018, making any edge for either candidate potentially decisive.”

“That same year, the NRA invested heavily in Scott’s gubernatorial reelection effort in Florida, a race that the incumbent eventually won by a single percentage point. In the NRA’s state campaign-finance filings, more than $1 million of independent expenditures are attributed to Starboard, but none to OnMessage, which was working for Scott’s campaign. Unlike the federal regulations, Florida law does not require outside groups to disclose whether money was spent to support or oppose a particular candidate. But an ad the NRA published online in the fall can be traced back to OnMessage by the former OnMessage employee. The ad tied Scott’s Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, to Michael Bloomberg, and accused the candidate of supporting the former New York City mayor’s “gun control agenda.” (Bloomberg provides funding to Everytown for Gun Safety, whose 501c3 arm makes grants to The Trace.)”

“I remember seeing people from OnMessage work on this ad,” the former OnMessage employee said. Yet none of the NRA’s 2014 Florida expenditures was attributed to OnMessage.”

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