Cerabino: Negron views Scott's past in a new light
By Frank Cerabino Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 9:00 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010
One of our local state legislators may need my writing services to craft another letter to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott.
State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was one of the signers of an August letter to Scott asking him to either release his "secret" testimony in a lawsuit against his medical company, Solantic, or withdraw from the governor's race.
The letter said Scott needed to explain the "criminal and fraudulent" allegations against the company he founded and operated, because it would "provide the transparency the public wants and deserves."
The letter spoke directly to the injurious consequences of anything less than full disclosure of his testimony.
"By keeping your involvement in this case shrouded in secrecy, you will become a major liability for Republican candidates on this year's ballot if your campaign is successful," Negron's letter said. "If you remain unwilling to release these materials and answer questions on these issues, we believe you should immediately withdraw from the race for the good of our party and the conservative cause in Florida.
"Please understand our concerns are not about politics."
Which, of course, was complete nonsense. They had everything to do with politics.
Testimony sealed, undelivered
Negron and the other signers of the letter were helping the campaign of Scott's primary rival, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who had already characterized Scott as a corporate pirate for running a hospital chain that was fined $1.7 billion for bilking Medicare.
Scott cashed out of the hospital with his $300 million severance package and started Solantic, a chain of walk-in clinics that spawned lawsuits hinting at further shady adventures, including discriminatory hiring practices.
Six days before Scott announced his candidacy for governor, he gave a deposition in a case filed by a doctor who claimed that Solantic misused his medical license. But a month later, the case was settled and Scott's deposition was sealed, denying his opponents some potentially useful fodder, particularly in light of Scott's deposition as head of Columbia/HCA when he reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times.
The letter Negron signed was sent the same day Scott was served by a subpoena during a news conference. The subpoena, instigated by a lawsuit filed by a McCollum backer, was aimed at trying to embarrass Scott into unsealing his secret deposition.
He didn't, and two weeks later, he surprised the state's Republican establishment by beating McCollum in the Republican primary.
Now, you might think this would leave Republican legislators like Negron out in the cold. But you'd be wrong.
Last week, Scott announced his honorary campaign co-chairs, and Negron and six other Republican legislators who signed that letter were now part of his team. All that's left to do is to somehow negate that embarrassing Aug. 10 letter that makes everybody involved look so bad.
The solution: a second letter. Negron and his fellow legislators need to respond to their own letter to explain why it's no longer operative.
Here's a first draft:
Dear Mr. Scott:
We had written a hasty letter in August demanding that you release a deposition in the Solantic case to allow the public a better perspective into your business dealings. Boy, were we wrong.
We now see that for the good of our party and the conservative cause, you should continue to refuse to explain anything about your business practices.
By keeping this case shrouded in secrecy, you will continue to receive the respect and endorsement of us and many other party members who spoke very foolishly about what we now see as your commendable history as a paragon of free enterprise in this Marxist-Socialist gulag that America has become in the past two years.
While we still applaud candidates who practice openness and transparency, we now realize that we were only talking about candidates from the other party.
If you remain unwilling to release these materials and answer questions on these issues, rest assured you will continue to be well-positioned for success in November.
We are eagerly anticipating your next batch of 30-second attack ads. And we look forward to serving you soon.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)