Rick Scott Appears to Clinch Governor's Race, Gets Green Light to Abuse State (Updated)

If your ex-con boyfriend slaps you around when you ask why he emptied out your bank account and then you take him back, everyone knows you've given him permission to rob and hurt you again.

That's the message voters gave Republican Rick Scott yesterday when they elected a man to the governor's mansion who oversaw the biggest Medicaid fraud in the nation's history.

Throughout the campaign, reporters asked Scott whether he took credit for the fraud

Columbia/HCA committed while he was its CEO. Scott's answer was that his underlings didn't keep him in the loop, yet he took credit for the company's successes during his tenure. At best, that's malfeasance, and at worst it's criminal.

Yet it appears Scott has clinched the race. Final results haven't been announced, and Scott has yet to declare victory. But the remaining absentee ballots and uncounted precincts are not enough to give Democrat Alex Sink a victory.

Update: The state has now tallied almost all votes (2 percent of Broward precincts are still uncounted), and Scott has won by about 66,000 votes. Sink called Scott this morning to concede.

Scott ran Columbia/HCA for ten years before resigning in 1997 amid an FBI probe. The company's scam was a simple bookkeeper's skim job -- overcharge the government for Medicaid procedures and reap the excess profits. The company later paid a $1.7 billion fine but avoided criminal charges. Scott also was never charged, despite overseeing the Medicaid rigging.

Last night, while Sink refused to concede, Scott told his supporters he had won.

"Based on the numbers we're seeing now," he said, "after all the votes are counted, I am absolutely confident I will be the next great governor of the State of Florida."

It's true that it appears he will be our next governor, but whether he'll be "great" or whether he'll rob from us and then blame the auditors -- that's still to be determined.

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Eric Barton
Contact: Eric Barton