Politics

Rick Scott's Office Refuses New Times Interview, Advocates Silent Treatment

You may have noticed that Rick Scott doesn't love the media. His spokesman got into a spat with a Miami Herald reporter, and the governor himself refuses to use email because he's "embarrassed" by it.  (Presumably, he's embarrassed when the media and public read the mail and see how he actually talks.)

Recently, I requested an interview with Scott to discuss his budget legislation.Considering that the governor's predecessor, Charlie Crist, gave his cell phone number to reporters, this seemed like a fairly innocuous request. But Scott balked.

The first time I called, a spokesman named John explained that they would consider the request and get back to me. Five days passed, and no answer came. I called again. A woman, polite and apologetic, said she would check on the request. Still, nothing happened.

The third time -- 11 days since the original request -- I pushed harder. This time, John gave a strange nonanswer. "If this is something that we can do, I'll have someone contact you as soon as possible," he said.

So, does that mean I won't hear anything if the answer is no? "Yeah, if it's something we can't do, then we wouldn't follow up with you," John said.

That's not very polite, I explained. I have deadlines. I need a definitive answer.

John, clearly in over his head, transferred the called to Lane Wright, Scott's press secretary. "We have received your multiple requests, and if we can accommodate that, someone will let you know," Wright said.

Was a government spokesman -- whose entire job was to answer questions from the public -- actually advocating the silent treatment? That's what corporate lawyers do when protecting a criminal client. It's not usually the strategy for high-ranking public officials.

 "We are not gonna be commenting for this story," Wright finally conceded.

Well, that's a relief. What would happen if the governor actually agreed to be interviewed? Would he have to blink his eyes?

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab