Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Governor candidates take national stage for CNN debate

Alex Sink and Rick Scott met Oct. 25, 2010 for their second and final debate.
Alex Sink and Rick Scott met Oct. 25, 2010 for their second and final debate.

At Florida's third and final gubernatorial debate on Oct. 25, 2010, the only thing Alex Sink and Rick Scott agreed on is that the minimum wage is $7.55.

Both were wrong. (It's $7.25).

And so it went.

The hourlong debate sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times and CNN was testy from start to finish, with Scott and Sink trading allegations over their backgrounds and their plans for the state.

Scott again tried to link Sink to President Barack Obama, and said Sink proposed $12.5 billion in new spending if she was elected.

"She has spending plans that are going to cost us $12.5 billion," Scott said.

That's a claim PolitiFact Florida has ruled False. In short, Scott is reading Sink's plans for Florida and trying to put a price tag on them. But his math doesn't add up, or sometimes makes giant leaps.

For instance, more than $9 billion of the $12.5 billion is linked to Sink's support for high-speed rail linking Orlando to Tampa and Miami. But Sink doesn't say she plans to pay for the project with state money, or all in one year, or even one term. All she says is she supports the project.

Sink then countered with a familiar topic -- by questioning Scott's business background and the allegations of fraud that have dogged him throughout the campaign. PolitiFact Florida has examined most of the claims you've heard, are hearing, or will hear between now and Nov. 2.

On those depositions you keep hearing about, Scott did invoke the Fifth Amendment 75 times at one deposition. But that deposition wasn't part of the criminal fraud investigation into Columbia/HCA. It was in an unrelated civil lawsuit.

And voters shouldn't equate taking the fifth with "I did it," we learned.

And yes, four people were indicted and charged with criminal fraud as part of the Columbia/HCA probe (not Scott, of course). But no one was ever convicted. Two executives, we should note, did plead guilty to charges that resulted as part of the criminal fraud investigation. But those convictions were for lying to bank lenders, not ripping off Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal program.

Scott then offered his own allegations that Sink was involved in fraud while she was state president of NationsBank.

"Look, you want to talk about fraud. Let's talk about your job at NationsBank," Scott said. "Your tellers were paid kickbacks, your tellers in your bank were paid kickbacks for directing elderly consumers from -- smile about it. You don't care about seniors. Is that the deal?"

The bank led investors to believe they were buying no-risk savings accounts rather than mutual funds and stocks that could and did lose value, according to the Palm Beach Post. The bank was ordered to pay a $6.75 million fine. Sink said she had nothing to do with the fraud.

"That case, the lawyer that brought that case -- it was a class action case against another company -- he even has said publicly that Alex Sink had nothing to do with the case, had nothing to do with the situation and didn't know about the problems," Sink said. "What more can I say?"

We plan on examining Scott's statement and Sink's rebuttal soon.

Sink also claimed that Scott wants to close the Department of Community Affairs, but that's not true. Scott has been critical of the state agency, which manages land use and growth in the state, but has not said he'd eliminate the agency all together.