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Convicted fraudster and health care astroturfer runs… for governor

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 15:59 EDT
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The newest entrant into the Florida governors’ race has a history that he’d probably prefer to keep secret.

Rick Scott, former hospital executive and leader of a million-dollar astroturf operation to try and kill health care legislation, has entered the Republican primary and will launch his first television ad this week, Politico’s Ben Smith reports.

He will challenge Attorney General Bill McCollum, who Smith reports “has failed to inspire the excitement attached to Senate candidate Marco Rubio, but who has also benefitted from an unexpectedly weak effort by the presumptive Democratic nominee, State Treasurer Alex Sink.”

Scott bills himself as a “conservative outsider” on his campaign Web site, and echoes this theme in the spot, scheduled to begin airing state-wide on Thursday. He also touts his credentials as a businessman, an aspect of his past that has gotten him in trouble with the law.

Towards the end of his decade-long tenure as CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, a for-profit chain of health care facilities, Scott in 2003 plead guilty to a series of criminal charges worth $1.7 billion in fines. The Justice Department called it the “largest health care fraud case in US history.”

Last year he founded Conservatives for Patients Rights, a front group that utilized grassroots tactics and spent millions of dollars to oppose President Obama’s health reform legislation.

The group hired as its communications arm a public relations firm that worked closely with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which fiercely attacked John Kerry’s service record in 2004.

The liberal blog Think Progress chronicled his “profits-driven ideology and scandal-plagued history” in a video and fact sheet last year, when he was a primary figure in the effort to scuttle the bill.

“Florida needs a conservative who is not afraid to upset the apple cart, an outsider who is not part of the political establishment, and a businessman who knows how to create jobs, cut costs, balance budgets, and bring new ideas to old problems,” Scott said in a statement.

This video is Scott’s ad, uploaded YouTube Tuesday, April 13.

 
 
 
 
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