A Republican-linked interest group under investigation by the Nevada Secretary of State, Alliance for America’s Future, has bought more than $906,000 in negative television advertising targeting Florida GOP candidates for governor and former health care executive Rick Scott.
The ad — which will be playing across the vast majority of the state at least until June 2, but does not appear online — is entitled “Fraud.” Judging by the title, the ad will likely address Scott’s tenure at the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, Columbia/HCA, which he was fired from while the company was under investigation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, an inquiry that led to the corporation being hit with a $1.7 billion fine. Scott was never charged himself with a crime.
The Nevada Secretary of State filed a temporary restraining order in the First Judicial Court of Nevada against Alliance for America’s Future on Tuesday for refusing to file as a PAC. The secretary of state is seeking up to $5,000 per violation of the election law for running ads supporting GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval. Tom Josefiak, former Chief Counsel of the Republican National Committee and General Counsel for Bush-Cheney ‘04 is representing the group. In a letter to the secretary of state, he wrote, “As is readily apparent … the ad contains no express advocacy.” (The ad buy has ended, but the group reserved its right to run ads.)
The gubernatorial campaign for fellow Florida Republican Bill McCollum, currently the state’s attorney general, distanced itself from the ads while not refuting their message, “We’re not surprised,” McCollum campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. “Any number of groups and individuals are gravely concerned about Rick Scott and the impact he would have in Florida.”
The group has also not registered as a PAC in Florida, according to Florida Secretary of State records; however, Florida election law does not require out-of-state groups to do so. These requirements would change, however, if Gov. Charlie Crist signs an elections bill (H.B. 131), which he has until tomorrow to act on.
RedState blogger Erick Erickson defended Rick Scott against the ads. “I think a lot of the dirt on Rick Scott is really overblown,” he said. “McCollum wouldn’t be having this problem at all if his campaign weren’t so lackluster with a sense of entitlement. That’s part of the problem Charlie Crist ran into and look what happened to him.”
Scott and McCollum are locked in a tight primary, even though Scott only entered the race on April 13. In a poll released on May 18, Scott led McCollum by one point — a statistically insignificant lead.