Reporters Not Welcomed At Corporate-Sponsored Rick Scott Inaugural
Tuesday's inauguration of Florida Gov. Rick Scott was a gift that kept on giving. Notable for its lack of austerity at a time where other newly-minted lawmakers are avoiding showy displays of pomp in deference to their constituents' overall lack of economic health, the Scott inaugural "rivaled that of a presidential event, with the press having to cope with limited access," according to Steve Bousquet, reporting for the Miami Herald:
Florida's new governor was the star of the most security-conscious inauguration in recent memory, with elaborate Washington-style flourishes that amplified Scott's unfamiliarity with the small informal capital city he now calls home.
For two days, Scott was trailed by a cadre of dark-suited men who resembled law enforcement agents, but were not. They wore red lapel buttons and silver ear pieces, checking visitors in search of proper credentials at a dozen events.
The festivities were funded by an array of business interests, perhaps as a way of saying, "Hey, thanks in advance for favoring our interests above the people of Florida." As George Zornick from ThinkProgress noted:
The ceremonies cost about $3 million, and are largely funded by business interests in Florida that, as the St. Petersburg Times writes, have "the most at stake in his administration." From tobacco companies trying to avoid taxes, to drug companies and HMOs hoping to benefit from Medicaid changes, Scott's lavish ceremony is being paid for by those who want to be a part of the real party: Florida is the world's twentieth-largest economy and Scott will enjoy almost unchecked control of the state's business, as his party holds super-majorities in both legislative chambers.
Zornick goes on to include a litany of what sort of quid the various pro quos are after, including real-estate interests looking for deregulation, a tobacco company interested in getting off the hook for legal settlements, and many health-industry companies hoping for an ally in attacking the deficit-reducing national health-care reform measure passed by Congress last year.
Amid all the pageantry, one group of citizens seemed to be pretty unwelcome: reporters. Per Bousquet:
Even as Scott promises total openness as governor, reporters had limited access to events in state buildings, something not seen at previous inaugurals.
Scott's first official event after being sworn in Tuesday was an invitation-only ``Let's Get to Work'' leadership luncheon with a couple of dozen lawmakers.
The last flight of stairs reaching the Capitol's 22nd floor was covered in temporary red carpeting for the event, a single traveling "pool'' reporter was allowed to cover the luncheon, providing details for all news organizations, while other reporters were escorted out even though there were empty tables.
In a couple of instances, reporters were told to leave events after they had entered, a situation that would have been inconceivable in the just-ended administration of Charlie Crist.
Reporters did manage to catch up with the woman who briefly heckled Scott during the inaugural speech. Her basic complaint appears to be the fact that Scott would prefer to blow off his singular achievement as a human being -- the record-setting fraud penalty that Columbia/HCA had to pay after systematically bilking Medicare under Scott's leadership.
Naturally, a majority of Florida voters disagreed, which just goes to show the power of $70 million worth of turd polish. Nevertheless, the tone of the Scott administration has been well established, with the new governor demonstrating a need for attention coupled with an intense desire to avoid scrutiny.
Tight security, limited press access on display at Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration [Miami Herald]
REPORT: Rick Scott's Inauguration Funded By Special Interests With Substantial Business Before State [Think Progress]