Political Correction

Gov. Scott's Conflict Of Interest

March 28, 2011 12:15 pm ET - by Kate Conway

Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) has been promising since his campaign to run the state of Florida like a business. Three months later, Scott isn't running the state like just any business — he's running it like it's a part of Solantic, the health care company he founded after departing Colombia/HCA amid an investigation into that company's massive defrauding of Medicare.

In January, Scott transferred his shares of Solantic — worth $62 million — to his wife, a move which "meet[s] the letter of Florida ethics laws, if not the spirit." Having covered his legal bases (maybe), Scott then set about pursuing policies that could financially benefit Solantic and enrich his family.

Most egregiously, Scott has been pushing for Medicaid privatization, purportedly to control costs, despite serious complaints about access to care in a five-county experimental privatization program. The state-wide privatization would open of Florida's Medicaid money to private facilities — like the Solantic clinics. From Mother Jones:

Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers.

To round out his ethically questionable endeavors, Scott has signed an executive order that requires all new state employees and a random sampling of old hires to undergo drug tests. Solantic, of course, offers drug testing services and could gain business from the policy — which is itself a possible constitutional violation.

As Matt Yglesias says: "There are two possibilities here, neither of which reflect well on Scott. One is that Scott is pushing a bad policy agenda in order to enrich himself. The other is that Scott is pushing a good policy agenda whose political sustainability he's undermining by creating the appearance that he's just looking to enrich himself."

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