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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman October 28, 2014

Charlie Crist attacks Rick Scott's rape crisis center veto

In the homestretch, Charlie Crist is pushing hard for the women’s vote in his battle against Gov. Rick Scott.

Crist has vowed to protect abortion rights and fight for equal pay for women for months. Scott has attacked Crist for taking money from strip club owners.

Now a TV ad attacks Scott’s record on funding rape crisis centers.

"No one saw it coming. With the stroke of a pen, Rick Scott vetoed funding for 30 Florida rape crisis centers. Scott said the centers weren't needed. But they’ve helped over a million Florida women who’ve been sexually assaulted get care, counseling and legal help. These centers were a place for women who have nowhere else to turn. And Rick Scott turned his back on every single one of them." (Technically the Florida Democratic Party released the ad, but the Crist campaign has promoted it.)

The ad leaves viewers with the impression that Scott completely rejected funding for rape crisis centers, a serious attack against the governor. Did Scott veto funding for 30 rape crisis centers and say that the centers weren’t needed?

Scott’s veto

The state funds rape crisis centers through various pots of money. A portion comes from the Rape Crisis Trust Fund, which comes from fines assessed on felony criminal defendants. Additionally, some money comes from the Attorney General’s Office, and in some years the Legislature and governor approved additional money.

In the fine print, the ad cites a TV report from April 2012. In 2012, Scott vetoed $1.5 million of additional money for the rape crisis centers. The 30 centers still received $1.4 million from the Trust Fund and $500,000 from the attorney general.

The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, which lobbies on behalf of the centers, issued a statement criticizing the veto, "especially when the need for increased funding is so clear, waiting lists for core services are growing, and programs can’t meet the needs of those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence."

Scott’s veto during Sexual Assault Awareness Month drew much scrutiny -- especially in left-leaning websites.

The TV ad says "Scott said the centers weren’t needed" but that’s not actually a reference to a direct quote by Scott. We found no statement by Scott to suggest he thought the centers were unnecessary -- only that he thought the new funding wasn’t necessary.

The Crist campaign points to a statement by Scott’s spokesman at the time, Lane Wright, who told the Huffington Post, "This new funding of $1.5 million would have been duplicative, since, as a state, we already fund sexual violence programs. There was no information suggesting any needs in this area weren’t already being met."

Scott, while attending an event for Crime Victims Rights Week, said he thought the centers were adequately funded, not that they were unnecessary.

"We have increased funding for domestic violence. We have money that goes into rape crisis centers already," Scott said, according to a column in the Palm Beach Post. "So it was additional money that was already funded."

Scott later recommended an increase in funding

There’s more to the story, though. Advocates for the rape crisis centers met with state staff after the veto, and the next year Scott recommended additional money.

"There were a number of people in the Legislature who spoke with the governor’s office about the need, and in 2013, there it was in his recommended budget," said Jennifer Dritt, director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violent, who spoke with PolitiFact Florida in September. "We were never in any governor’s recommendation for funding until Gov. Scott recommended $2.5 million in 2013."

Scott highlighted his funding boost for rape crisis centers in a 2013 press release, which included praise by Dritt:  

"This appropriation will make a world of difference in the lives of Florida’s citizens, and we’re grateful for his commitment," Dritt said.

The increase in money allowed some centers to hire additional staff which helped reduce waiting lists and expand services, Dritt told PolitiFact Florida.

Under Scott, the $2.5 million remained in the budget for a second year in a row in 2014.

Based on our interviews with women’s advocates and state officials in September, here is the amount of state dollars that went to rape crisis centers statewide under Crist and Scott:

Legislative session

Money from state AG (usually from general revenue)

Other general revenue

Trust Fund

Total

2007-Crist

$400,000

0

$1.5 million

$1.9 million

2008-Crist

$400,000

0

$2 million

$2.4 million

2009-Crist

$250,000

0

$2 million

$2.25 million

2010-Crist

$250,000

0

$1.8 million

$2.05 million

2011-Scott

$250,000

0

$1.8 million

$2.05 million

2012-Scott

$500,000

0 after Scott vetoed $1.5 million approved by Legislature

$1.4 million

$1.9 million

2013-Scott

$500,000

$2.5 million

$1.3 million

$4.3 million

2014-Scott

$500,000

$2.5 million

$1.3 million

$4.3 million

 

Our ruling

A TV ad on behalf of Crist said "Rick Scott vetoed funding for 30 Florida rape crisis centers. Scott said the centers weren’t needed."

The ad omits that Scott vetoed an increase in funding for the centers in 2012. He never said the centers weren’t needed -- he said that particular extra $1.5 million wasn’t needed. The ad omits that in 2013 he supported a $2.5 million increase, which also remained in the budget in 2014.

The ad overall is misleading because it fails to make it clear that funding for rape crisis centers increased under Scott's watch.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Our Sources

Charlie Crist campaign, TV ad "Turn" and ad backup, Oct. 27, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott, Vetoes, 2012

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence website, "Rape crisis centers address the media on governor’s funding veto"  and "Legislative wrap-up," 2012

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, "Public policy update," Jan. 31, 2013

Florida Department of Health website, Sexual abuse or violence prevention, Accessed Sept. 15, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott press release, "Florida Families First Budget invests in keeping Florida families and visitors safe," May 20, 2013

Center for Responsive Politics, Congressional Elections: Florida District 22 race 2014, Accessed Sept. 17, 2014

Charlie Crist campaign, Fundraising email by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, Sept. 12, 2014

Charlie Crist campaign website, Fundraising message by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, Dated Sept. 12, 2014 and accessed Sept. 15, 2014

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Gov. Rick Scott hosts abortion bill event at mansion," July 30, 2011

Miami Herald, "XX marks the spot? Charlie Crist campaigning on abortion, equal pay, birth control," Sept. 9, 2014

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "The politics of porn: Crist takes industry money, Scott invests in company sued for ‘enabling’ sex predators,’" Oct. 27, 2014

Huffington Post, "Governor Rick Scott vetoes funding for rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month," April 23, 2012

Daily Kos, "For sexual assault awareness month, Rick Scott vetoes funding for Florida rape crisis centers," April 24, 2014

MSNBC Rachel Maddow blog, "Rick Scott’s sense of irony," April 24, 2012

PolitiFact Florida, "Charlie Crist has called himself both ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ and backed certain restrictions while opposing others," Feb. 7, 2014

PolitiFact, "Did Rick Scott close 30 women’s health care centers?" Sept. 18, 2014

Palm Beach Post column by Frank Cerabino, "Scott has a way of backing causes, whacking their funds," April 27, 2014   

Interview, Brenda Gilfillan, spokesman Charlie Crist’s campaign, Sept. 12, 2014

Interview, Jennifer Dritt, Executive Director, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Sept. 15, 2014

Interview, Ron Book, pro-bono attorney, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Sept. 15, 2014

Interview, Miriam Firpo-Jimenez, section manager at Nancy J. Cotterman center in Broward, Sept. 16, 2014

Interview, John Tupps, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, Sept. 16, 2014

Interview, Greg Blair, spokesman Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign, Sept. 15 and Oct. 28, 2014

Interview, Jackie Schutz, spokeswoman Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign, Oct. 27, 2014

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