Ever since his first run for Florida Governor, Rick Scott has paraded out his favorite campaign prop – an old baseball cap with “NAVY” atop the brim. He continuously wore it during campaign stops during his election and reelection. As Governor, the hat remained a familiar prop. Scott wore it as he ran to every disaster he could find, trying to display leadership and ability. As a proud veteran, one who spent a career in service to our nation, including deployment, I was greatly bothered be seeing Scott wearing that hat. The hat, representing the Navy but really the values of all U.S. military services, was everything Rick Scott was not.
Neither the military as a monolith organization nor the millions of those serving on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the Guard are perfect. They are certainly not without occasional sin. Nevertheless, the U.S. military is founded upon integrity, duty, selfless service, and honor. Rick Scott lacks all these qualities. Him wearing that hat, especially for the purpose of portraying himself as a competent, capable leader, was akin to stolen valor. Scott never deployed overseas and did not serve long enough to qualify as a veteran. He never even completed his first enlistment, somehow arranging to be let out after only 29 months, significantly less than the term of enlistment to which he swore an oath to serve.
The highlight of his Navy service was one cruise to Bermuda. Maybe he thought those legends about the Bermuda Triangle were the equivalent of him going into harm’s way and the dangers others faced in their actual deployments. Always the opportunist, even at that young age, Rick Scott was not one to pass up the chance to make money by exploiting others. Before his ship left, Scott bought cases of soda and sold them to his thirsty fellow sailors out at sea who had no other option, paying his prices to find moments of peace and enjoyment when they had a break from their arduous duties.
Years later, Rick Scott led a healthcare company that committed significant Medicare Fraud against the U.S. and the American taxpayers. They paid a fine of 1.7 billion dollars, the largest such fine in history at that time. Scott left the company with hundreds of millions of dollars in his pocket. If stealing from the American people at large was not bad enough, the victims of his fraud included a large veteran population who were denied proper health care as a result. This was the man who became Florida Governor and now seeks to become one of Florida’s U.S. Senators. He hurt veterans but wants to portray himself as one of us.
In eight years as Governor, Rick Scott continued to profit off of the people. He made hundreds of millions of dollars from state contracts going to his own business interests and investments. Even in a world of extensive political corruption, this is an incredible amount of thievery. Scott was able to fool many people as Governor, but the Senate race is bringing these incredible revelations to the forefront and the people of Florida can see the fraud that is Rick Scott. Nothing he says is honest. Despite promises, Scott failed to support public education, the environment, etc. The ongoing crises of blue algae and red tide are directly attributable to Scott and his plan to gut environmental protection while he profits from big polluters.
There is a commercial now airing in Florida in which veterans call out Rick Scott for his fraud and for wearing the Navy hat despite flaunting the values it represents. The ad began before I could post this piece, so I want to commend the veterans for standing up to Scott’s hypocrisy. Apparently, the commercial hurt Scott’s feelings because he began airing one of his own attacking Senator Bill Nelson for criticizing Scott’s military service. Really? Rick Scott wants to imitate a veteran, insist on his bona fide military service when it consisted merely of one partial enlistment that he manipulated to significantly shorten to avoid full service, and one in which his sole accomplishment was a cruise to Bermuda wherein he ripped off fellow sailors selling soda.
Bill Nelson’s military service is legitimate. He served on active duty, completing credible service, then further serving in NASA as an astronaut. Senator Nelson did not have to pretend to serve the country like Rick Scott did. Sorry if that hurt your feelings, Governor. Lose the hat, but more importantly, lose the race. You are not fit to serve.