Florida Gov. Rick Scott pulls campaign ad in which convicted human trafficker endorses him
Florida Governor Rick Scott has pulled a re-election campaign advertisement after learning that the man who endorses him in it was convicted of human smuggling, The Miami Herald reports.
In the Spanish-language advertisement — which is devoted to Rick Scott’s success in creating jobs for Floridians — Maikel Duarte-Torres is seen hugging the governor and saying, “four years ago, the economy was very bad. Rick Scott helped Florida’s economy and you can see the difference. He’s created jobs. That’s why I support Rick Scott. I’m just like him. I’m like the American Dream.”
Three years ago, however, Duarte-Torres was being held in a prison in St. Maartens after having been convicted of trying to smuggle two Cuban girls from the Caribbean country into Miami. Although he was only convicted for his role in the transportation of these two girls, prosecutors believe that he may have had a hand in organizing the transport of 10 other Cubans at the price of $12,500 per person.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, but was released after two days due to prison overcrowding.
Duarte-Torres, who owns grocery store in Tampa Bay, is a member of the “Small Business for Scott” Coalition, which accompanied Scott in a campaign appearance in May. At the time, he told the Tampa Bay Times that “I started with a watermelon in my hand, selling fruits and vegetables on Lois Avenue. Things have grown from there.”
Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said that upon learning of Duarte-Torres’ conviction, the campaign pulled the advertisement.
[“FLorida Gov Rick Scott” by Gage Skidmore on Flickr, Creative Commons license]