As Rick Scott held an impromptu press conference yesterday in Tallahassee to defend himself from fresh allegations of improper Medicare billing at a health care company he co-founded, one of the Scott campaign’s websites was updated with a timeline and flow chart that call the accusations a “false story” drummed up by the media and the campaign of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
The site also implies, incorrectly, that The Florida Independent received its information on the Solantic allegations from the McCollum camp.
The post appears on the site The Truth About Rick Scott — a page ostensibly created to set the record straight about allegations made against businesses founded and run by Scott, including Columbia/HCA and Solantic. It accuses McCollum of manufacturing the new Solantic allegations and lays out the sequence of events the Scott campaign alleges brought the story to life.
The site also features a flow chart that purports to demonstrate how McCollum pushed the Solantic story (click to view the image in its full size):
However, the post doesn’t square with the timeline that The Florida Independent laid out yesterday in Tristram Korten’s extensive feature on the Solantic allegations.
The Scott campaign claims that the allegations originated in an email sent by a former Solantic physician to the McCollum campaign on July 16. The timeline also purports that on July 31, “The Florida Independent back[ed] off publishing the story because they [could not] corroborate any of the facts.”
It is unclear why the Scott campaign is making this claim about TFI or citing this date, but the timeline is contradicted by the actual sequence of events that led to The Florida Independent publishing Korten’s article. As Korten wrote yesterday (emphasis mine):
The Florida Independent first contacted Prokes in June, after a former Solantic employee had seen earlier stories about Solantic and put the Independent in touch with him. Prokes initially agreed to speak with a reporter off the record. After two interviews, Prokes decided he wanted to report what he knew to the authorities so they could investigate. He called a Medicare hotline in early July, but says he was kept on hold for four hours. He then tried to get in touch with state authorities who he says were not responsive.
Out of frustration, he sent an email on July 16 to the campaign of Bill McCollum, Rick Scott’s opponent in the heated Republican governor’s primary, explaining what he saw while at the company. Within days, a political operative arrived in Jacksonville to interview Prokes. Campaign officials acknowledge receiving this information and say they referred his allegations to the appropriate investigative agencies. The operative wrote up a report, which was soon leaked to different media. But Prokes declined to be interviewed, and no outlet published his allegations. He tells the Independent the McCollum campaign violated a verbal agreement to conceal his identity.
To be clear, Korten first interviewed Prokes in June, before the doctor had contacted the McCollum campaign. As for the claim that TFI “back[ed] off” the story, you can read Korten’s coverage here.
The flow chart posted above has been removed from The Truth About Rick Scott. The URL for the chart now only displays a broken link warning.