In the late 1990′s one of our local hospitals, running under the auspices of Columbia HCA, suffered severe layoffs of many staff members, including essential medical personnel such as doctors and nurses. This was a result of a huge fine of $1.7 billion in a plea agreement with the US government to avoid criminal charges for filing false Medicare claims, the largest fraud settlement in US history. Imagine my surprise when the CEO at the helm during this debacle, Rick Scott, decided in his infinite wisdom to run for governor of Florida in 2010. Not only did Rick have the hubris to run in the Republican primary, he is now the Republican candidate!
Rick Scott was forced to resign from Columbia HCA just as the proverbial you-know-what was hitting the fan, and HCA generously gave him $10 million in cash, $300 million in stock options, and a 10-year consulting contract with unknown value. Rick likes to remind folks that he was never charged with anything regarding the fraud case, but I’d like to remind Rick that Al Capone was never charged with anything other than tax evasion, so does that mean he didn’t kill anyone?
Rick is a big opponent of the economic stimulus plan and kvetches about it frequently in his stump speeches, often pointing out that his opponent Alex Sink voted for it (she did not). Oddly enough, Xfone, a company in which Rick has invested heavily and owns 15% of the stock, has received $63 million from the economic stimulus plan. In addition, a subsidiary of Xfone, Pride Network Inc., has just been given $36.1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To be fair, Rick has put some of his Xfone stock on the market, but obviously any sales made subsequent to the receipt of Federal funds will sell at a higher rate than they would have prior to the receipt of said funds.
Another annoying thing about Ricky Boy: He just trotted out Howdy Doody Bobby Jindal to run around the State of Florida with him on September 17th, and it’s such a strange coincidence that Xfone and Pride Network are both based in Mississippi. I’m sure Jindal was in Florida partly to support the Republican candidate, but I can’t help but wonder if he was also thinking about all the jobs Rick Scott’s Xfone and Pride Network provide in the State of Mississippi. Hmmm.