Campaign in Chaos: Rick Scott’s Finance Chairman Search Starts to Look Like Lt. Governor Search
Republican Donors Playing a Game of "Not It”
Rick Scott’s attempt to quickly replace his top fundraiser in the wake of his campaign’s racist jokes scandal reveals more disfunction and chaos. Desperate to keep bringing in cash, Rick Scott offered the job this week to John Rood, a nationally known GOP donor — only to “abruptly" withdraw the offer, according to the Scrips-Tribune.
The vacancy at the top of Rick Scott’s fundraising apparatus is massive. Rick Scott can’t run on his failed record as governor, so he needs a top fundraiser who has deep pockets to bankroll a $100 million negative campaign.
“It’s getting hard to keep track of the examples of Rick Scott’s embarrassing campaign dysfunction. Now, they can’t even recruit finance chair without chaos and fumbling. After Rick Scott’s team trashed their last top fundraiser to the press, it’s no wonder he is having trouble finding a replacement,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.
NAPLES DAILY NEWS
By MATT DIXON | Posted March 27, 2014 at 9:12 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE _ Days after Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign finance chairman resigned in frustration, the campaign offered the job to another GOP rainmaker before abruptly rescinding the offer, six people with knowledge of the situation say.
Scott’s campaign declined to comment Thursday, so it’s unclear why Scott offered the post to John Rood, a nationally known Republican donor, and then quickly changed his mind. A call placed to Rood’s cell phone seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
Those who spoke to the Scripps/Tribune Capital Bureau did so on condition of anonymity because they didn’t have the campaign’s permission to discuss the move publicly.
The post came open a week ago after the resignation of Mike Fernandez, a Coral Gables billionaire, as finance chairman. He stepped down as Scott’s top money man after expressing concern with the campaign, including staffers joking in Mexican accents on the way to an event at a Mexican restaurant, according to emails published by the Miami Herald.
“It shows that the team does not understand the culture you need to win,” read a Feb. 20 email.
Scott’s campaign has denied that the comments Fernandez described in the emails occurred.
Rood has been a top finance person for many high-profile campaigns. He was Mitt Romney’s Florida finance co-chairman, and a top fundraiser for former President George W. Bush, who appointed him the U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas in 2004. He is chairman of Vestcor, a Jacksonville-based real estate company.
The news comes after a week of internal fights and bad headlines for the campaign of Scott, a Republican from Naples.
After Fernandez, a health care mogul, left the campaign, it was criticized by political opponents who say the resignation shows both dysfunction and an insensitivity toward Hispanics, a coveted voting bloc in Florida.
The Florida Democratic Party also was quick to pounce on the resignation of Gonzalo Sanabria from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority board.
Sanabria said in a statement to the Miami Herald that he was stepping down because Fernandez was treated in a “disparaging and disrespectful manner.”
Sanabria wasn’t reappointed to the post because he voted “to raise toll fees on the people of Miami-Dade,” wrote Frank Collins, Scott’s communication director, in a statement.
“Yet again, it looks like Rick Scott is telling a prominent Hispanic Republican that he is lying,” said Joshua Karp, a Democratic Party spokesman. “The Rick Scott team’s arrogant and dismissive behavior this week is disrespectful to all Floridians — and shows how dysfunctional his campaign really is.”