Rick Scott's Legal Defense of High-Speed Rail Rejection Was Based on a Lie

Incredible news came out of Tallahassee last week: Rick Scott's general counsel admitted that he had misled the Florida Supreme Court about the amount of money that had already been spent on the proposed high-speed rail corridor, making the remaining funds seem much lower than they were, so that Scott's rejection of the plan would not appear so drastic.

Scott's counsel, Charles Trippe, revealed in a two-page letter to Chief Justice Charles Canady on Thursday that he falsely told the court that $110 million of a proposed $130 million in state funding for the project (spending that would complement federal funds and had been approved in 2009) had already been spent. The real amount spent? $31 million.

The court had been looking at a lawsuit from

two senators who said Scott exceeded his constitutional authority when he blocked the rail project last month. 

Given Trippe's false numbers, the court acknowledged that there was "very limited to no factual record" to verify them. Still, they were convincing enough. The Palm Beach Post's John Kennedy takes it from here:

...in a terse, one-page ruling, justices quickly killed the lawsuit following the hearing. They seemed to rely heavily on the facts of the project, as presented by Trippe -- who now acknowledges he was wrong.

In its ruling, the court wrote, "Based on the limited record before the court and a review of the federal and state law relied on by the parties, the court has determined that the petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to... relief."

Thad Altman, one of the senators who sued Scott, says he might file for a rehearing based on the admission of phony stats.

Our homework for this week: Get a copy of Trippe's letter and find out whether he deserves to keep his high-ranking job as Rick Scott's numero-uno legal counsel. Now Scott's claim that his rejection of high-speed rail helped solve the budget crisis seems even dumber than it did before.

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