A screenshot of Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, on Fox News (Pic via video.foxnews.com)
A screenshot of Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, on Fox News (Pic via video.foxnews.com)

Brown says drug-testing welfare recipients ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘a waste of taxpayers’ funds’

By | 06.02.11 | 9:51 am

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, attacked Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday for signing a piece of legislation that would require all welfare recipients be drug-tested. Appearing on Fox News, Brown said that Scott’s measure was a major “violation of privacy” and that his support for the measure likely stems from the fact that the company he once headed (Solantic) counts drug-testing among the services it provides.

After being elected, Scott transferred his ownership interest in Solantic to a trust in his wife’s name, and has said that the company would not contract for state business. In April, Scott sold his majority shares in the company.

On Wednesday’s America Live with Megyn Kelly, Brown and fellow guest Sandy Rios, vice president of Family PAC, heatedly argued about the legislation. (Full video below.)

“It’s clearly unconstitutional and the governor and the lawyers knew it when they did it,” said Brown. “I mean, the governor ran that he was going to increase jobs. He’s cut  jobs in every single category. We’re cutting 500 positions from the agency that administered the program. … This is a waste of taxpayers’ funds. Clearly, we’re going to court with this and clearly, you’re going to lose.”

“Seems to me like you’re wasting taxpayer’s funds if that money’s going to pay for the people’s drugs,” Rios said in response. “I don’t see how it’s an invasion of privacy. It’s voluntary; you don’t have to sign up. And by the way, drugs are illegal — so if you aren’t doing them you don’t have anything to worry about.”

At one point, Brown alleged that Scott might personally benefit from the implementation of a drug-testing program for welfare recipients:

We are in a crisis. The governor ran on [a platform] that he was going to create jobs in every single category. He’s dong just the opposite. We’re cutting school funding, we’re cutting education. And the other thing is, you have a program you’re implementing that you personally could benefit, because your company is doing the testing. Give me a break!

When Rios said that Scott no longer owned stock in the company, Brown said that was “a blatant lie and everybody knows it.”

In a joint statement released Wednesday, Brown and four fellow Democrats from Florida’s congressional delegation responded to Scott’s newly signed legislation, calling it “extreme” and an invasion of privacy.

“Gov. Scott’s new drug testing law is not only an affront to families in need and detrimental to our nation’s ongoing economic recovery, it is downright unconstitutional,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, in the statement. “If Gov. Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, State Emergency Relief, or educational grants and loans next?”

Brown said the tests “amount to strip searching our state’s most vulnerable residents merely because they rely on the government for financial support during these difficult economic times.”

Critics of the legislation argue that it adds an undue bureaucratic burden, without any demonstration that a problem actually exists. Proponents of the bill argue that it would be similar to drug-testing job applicants, and that welfare recipients should have nothing to hide.

Video of Brown and Rios’ segment:

Follow Virginia Chamlee on Twitter


Switch to our mobile site