POLITICS

Rick Scott's Campaign Plagued By Fake Mexican Accent Controversy

03/24/2014 01:02 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is downplaying speculation that the campaign's former finance co-chairman, Mike Fernandez, quit over concerns about Scott aides mocking Mexican accents.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that Fernandez sent an email in February about campaign staffers using fake, over-the-top accents while driving to a Mexican restaurant in Fernandez's home town of Coral Gables, Fla.

Fernandez, who was born in Cuba, didn't mention the incident when he quit his campaign position last week, instead citing a desire to spend more time with his family and businesses. He did, however, express a dissatisfaction with the direction of the campaign.

Scott's campaign denied allegations of racism on the part of campaign staffers.

“Mike was not in the van,” Scott’s campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, told the Herald.

“I spoke to every staffer in the van,” she added. “If something was said in an accent, no one remembers what it was. We are a diverse organization and we do not tolerate inappropriate comments.”

Scott picked his running mate, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who was born in Spain, in January. Lopez-Cantera sent an email on behalf of the campaign Monday promoting an ad that criticizes Scott's presumed Democratic opponent, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, over the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican Party of Florida shut down a Monday conference call with Lopez-Cantera that was meant to highlight the new ad after reporters asked three consecutive questions about Fernandez's departure, according to reporters who were on the call.

On the call, Lopez-Cantera said there is "no validity" to the story about the staffers.

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