Scott vs. Crist Oct. 15: Where is Obama, Utility Bill Battle

Scott Campaign:
Where’s Barack Obama?

Good morning,

Vice President Biden campaigned with Charlie Crist this week and said that this is the “most important governor’s race in the United States of America.” This begs the question … why is the Vice President here instead of the President?

Recent reports might leave you spinning:
In August, Charlie Crist said “I hope so” when asked whether he’ll have the opportunity to campaign with President Obama.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Crist Campaign was “wary of inviting Mr. Obama to publicly appear with him out of concern that it would shift the focus of the race from local issues to national ones.”

And yesterday, the Crist Campaign rolled back the WSJ report, saying that Crist’s position hadn’t changed and he would still welcome an opportunity to campaign with President.

Considering President Obama has rarely appeared at campaign events this election cycle and candidates across the country are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the President, there’s almost certainly some openings in his schedule. Charlie Crist is one of the only candidates in the country running towards Obama, so where’s the confusion?

Maybe Charlie Crist is feeling spurned by the fact that President Obama has yet to endorse Crist after the primary, as his spokesman implied he would.

Matt Moon
Communications Director
Rick Scott for Florida

Utility Bills?

NextGen Climate Releases New Ad in Tampa Bay Market
Ad Calls on Floridians to Pull the Plug on Governor Scott

NextGen Climate released its latest ad in the Tampa Bay market, calling on Floridians to pull the plug on Governor Rick Scott after he allowed Duke Energy to gouge Tampa Bay consumers, while raking in more than $1.2 million in campaign contributions.

The ad, “And Counting,” follows up on the charges leveled at Scott in last week’s ad by NextGen Climate, “Pay the Price,” which again highlighted how Scott not only accepted Duke’s dirty campaign money, but also allowed the utility to rip off Tampa Bay ratepayers at the same time.

Scott Campaign Responds

New Ad From Tom Steyer Deceives Floridians, Should Be Blaming Crist – Not Scott – For Higher Electricity Bills

STATEMENT FROM MATT MOON, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RICK SCOTT FOR FLORIDA: “Charlie Crist and Tom Steyer are both suffering from amnesia. While he is propping up Crist’s campaign by flooding the airwaves with deception about utility bills, Steyer should be blaming Crist – not Governor Scott – for making it easier for utilities to pick Floridians’ pocketbooks and rising electricity prices. While it’s Governor Scott who is protecting ratepayers and overseeing lower electricity prices, Barack Obama and Charlie Crist are using a California billionaire to rewrite history.”


CLAIM: NextGen Climate Says “[Rick] Scott Let Duke Gouge Tampa Bay.”

FACT: Under Rick Scott, Public Service Commission “Ordered Duke To Refund Money To Customers” Charged Because Of Failed Nuclear Power Plants “[S]tate regulators on Thursday ordered one of Florida’s largest power companies to give back $54 million it collected from ratepayers to pay for a failed nuclear plant … The decision means that sometime next year that Duke Energy Florida will wipe out an average $3.45 a month charge that customers are paying for costs associated with a now-scuttled nuclear plant. Duke announced last year it was abandoning plans to build the plant in Levy County on Florida’s Gulf coast, but consumers are still paying for costs associated with the plant.” (Gary Fineout, “Regulators Order Duke To Refund Money To Customers,” The Associated Press, 10/2/14)

FACT: Members Of Public Service Commission Charlie Crist, NextGen Attacks Were All Appointed And Re-Appointed By Charlie Crist. “• Eduardo Balbis, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist and was reappointed by Gov. Rick Scott. He leaves in January and will be replaced by Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed by Scott on Thursday. • Julie Imanuel Brown, who was appointed by Crist and has been reappointed twice by Scott. • Lisa Edgar, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush and reappointed by Crist and Scott. • Art Graham, the PSC chairman, was appointed by Crist and reappointed by Scott. • Ronald A. Brisé, who was appointed by Crist and reappointed by Scott.” (Online Staff, “The Public Service Commission At A Glance,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/20/2014)

FACT: It was Charlie Crist who approved the nuclear power plant whose construction was eventually cancelled that Duke charged customers for.

o AUGUST 2009 – “Governor Charlie Crist … Approved Progress Energy Florida’s Site Request For Construction Of A Nuclear Facility On A 3,105-Acre Location In Levy County.” (Press Release, Florida Cabinet Approves Site Certification For Progress Energy Florida’s Levy Nuclear Plant, Florida Department Of Environmental Protection, 8/11/2009)

o AUGUST 2009 – Charlie Crist Claimed Levy Nuclear Plant Would Create Jobs, Saying “I Appreciate What Progress Is Doing.” (Transcript, Cabinet Meeting, 8/11/2009)

o AUGUST 2013 – “Duke Energy Cancels Contract For Levy County Nuclear-Power Plants.” (Bruce Henderson, “Duke Energy Cancels Contract For Levy County Nuclear-Power Plants,” McClatchy-Tribune, 8/1/2013)

FACT: It Was Charlie Crist Who Made It Easier For Utilities To Hike Customers’ Bills By Signing A Law Expanding Nuclear Cost Recovery, Allowing Utilities To Recover Costs Regarding Transmission Lines And Other Related Costs Of Nuclear Plants. (HB 7135,2008 Legislature)

FACT: It Was Rick Scott Who Signed A Law “Reigning In Utilities’ Access To Consumers’ Wallets” By Amending The Nuclear Power Plan “Cost Recovery” Law. “The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy … called S.B. 1472 … an important step toward reining in the utilities’ access to consumers’ wallets.” (Carolina Bolado, “Fla. Reforms Controversial Nuclear Cost Recovery Act,” Law360, 6/17/14)

CLAIM: NextGen Climate Accuses Rick Scott Of “Higher Electric Bills.”

FACT: Under Charlie Crist, electricity bills went up nearly 30 percent for the average Florida household using investor-owned utilities. According to data from the Edison Electric Institute, the average residential electric bill in Florida (for investor owned utilities) went from 9.66 cents per Kilowatt Hour in 2006 to 12.41 cents per Kilowatt Hour in 2010, an increase of 28 percent under Charlie Crist.

FACT: Under Rick Scott, electricity bills have gone down 11 percent. The same data shows that the average residential electric bill in Florida (for investor owned utilities) has gone down to 11.06 cents per Kilowatt Hour in 2014, a decrease of nearly 11 percent under Rick Scott.

Scott Campaign Sends Letter to TV Stations:


Attached and pasted below is the copy of the take down letter attorneys for Rick Scott for Florida and the Republican Party of Florida sent to stations in Tampa Bay today to remove the deceptive ad by NextGen Climate Action Committee that contains false, misleading, and defamatory information about Governor Rick Scott.


Jackie Schutz
Deputy Communications Director
Rick Scott for Florida

October 15, 2014

Our firm is writing on behalf of our clients, the Republican Party of Florida and Rick Scott for Florida. Your station is currently airing an advertisement sponsored by NextGen Climate Action Committee entitled “And Counting” that contains false, misleading, and defamatory information about Governor Rick Scott. Unlike an advertisement aired by a candidate, your station can be held liable for distributing defamatory messages of political organizations such as NextGen Climate Action Committee. Your station must cease and desist from airing this advertisements to avoid exposing your station to significant legal liability.

NextGen Climate’s latest ad, “And Counting,” is appropriately titled as yet another display of NextGen Climate’s utter indifference for the truth. We previously notified Florida stations of NextGen Climate’s defamatory ads attacking Governor Scott. In fact, a Fort Myers station pulled a NextGen Climate ad from its airwaves in August as a result of defamatory content. As evidenced by our previous notices sent to Florida stations warning of NextGen Climate’s ads, “And Counting” is yet another ad in NextGen Climate’s ongoing pattern of producing defamatory statements about our client.

In “And Counting,” NextGen Climate again strings together a series of statements that, when taken as a whole, convey a demonstrably false message. Florida courts refer to this as defamation by implication. The ad states: “Rick Scott let Duke Energy gouge Tampa Bay.” The ad goes on to state: “Higher electric bills; one scandal after another; it’s time to pull the plug on Rick Scott’s shady deals.” These statement are completely false as they are presented and any of your station’s viewers are likely to be misled by “And Counting” to reach false conclusion’s about Governor Scott’s actions taken to reign in utilities. In fact, under Governor Scott, the Public Service Commission ordered Duke Energy to refund money to customers for failed nuclear power plants.[1] Moreover, it was Governor Scott who signed a law “reigning in utilities’ access to consumers’ wallets” by amending the nuclear power plant “cost recovery” law.[2]

Not only does “And Counting” inlcude NextGen Climate’s defamation by implication, it also includes statements about Governor Scott that are per se defamatory. The ad states: “While Duke powered Scott’s campaign; $1.2 million and counting; Scott takes Duke’s money.” This statement is false and is per se defamatory – it is a direct accusation that Governor Scott violated Florida law. Duke Energy has not contributed a single penny to Rick Scott for Florida, the Governor’s authorized campaign committee registered with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections. If Rick Scott for Florida accepted such contributions it would be a clear violation of Florida’s campaign finance laws prohibiting such contributions. See Fla. Stat. § 106.08(1)(a) (“. . . no person or political committee may, in any election, make contributions in excess of [$3,000] to a candidate for statewide office. . .”). As a result, your station is currently airing an ad that is per se defamatory.

NextGen Climate’s ad conveniently neglects to inform viewers that it was Charlie Crist who signed a law making it easier for utilities like Duke Energy to hike customers’ bills for nuclear power plant “cost recovery.”[3] The ad further fails to note that under Charlie Crist’s term in office, electricity bills went up nearly 30 percent for the average Florida household using investor-owned utilitites; under Gvoernor Scott, electricity bills have gone down 11%.[4]

Florida’s Supreme Court expressly recognizes a cause of action for defamation by implication. See Jews for Jesus, Inc. v. Edith Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098 (Fla. 2008). In so doing, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that “defamation law . . . impose[s] liability upon the defendant who has the details right but the ‘gist’ wrong.” See id. at 1108 (citing Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 116, at 117 (5th ed. Supp. 1988)); see also Scott v. Busch, 907 So. 2d 662, 668 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (“…a ‘mixed opinion,’ which is based on undisclosed facts that infer the plaintiff has committed an illegal act, or one that damages his or her business reputation, is actionable.”). Defamation actions brought by candidates for public office in Florida are strengthened by a recent ruling by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal in which the Court recognized that the candidate-plaintiff made a sufficient showing of the publisher‑defendant’s statements made in “reckless disregard” of the truth. See Greene v. Times Publishing Co., etc., et al., 130 So. 3d 724 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014). In recognizing established causes of action against each of the three reporter-defendants, the Greene Court held that falsehoods are not “protected as a matter of law by the ‘substantial truth’ doctrine.” Id.

NextGen Climate Action does not enjoy a “right to command the use of broadcast facilities” as a candidate does. See Columbia Broadcasting Sys., Inc. v. Democratic Nat’l Comm, 412 U.S. 94, 113 (1973); see also, Nat’l Conservative Political Action Comm., 89 F.C.C. 2d 626 (F.C.C. 1982). Because you need not air this advertisement, your station is not protected from legal liability for its content when you do grant access to your facilities. See Felix v. Westinghouse Radio Stations, 186 F.2d 1, 6 (3rd. Cir. 1950) cert denied, 314 U.S. 909 (1950).

Your station is on notice that NextGen Climate’s ad “And Counting” includes false and misleading accusations that are actionable, as are the statements contained in the series of NextGen Climate’s previous ads. This ongoing pattern of producing ads with utter disregard for the truth and the inclusion of per se defamatory statements in this ad, despite at least one of NextGen’ Climate’s ads being pulled from thew airwaves previously, leads a reasonable actor to conclude that NextGen Climate produced “And Counting” with malice. The recent ruling of Florida’s Thrid District Court of Appeal in Greene, taken together with the Florida Supreme Court’s established precendent on defamation by implication and NextGen Climate’s pattern of producing demfamatory advertisements about Governor Scott, compel you to immediately cease airing the NextGen Climate advertisement.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience at (540) 341-8808, or by email at, to advise us as to whether your station will no longer be airing this advertisement.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I will anticipate your immediate response.

NextGen Climate responds

“Governor Rick Scott is clearly feeling the heat after repeated calls from NextGen Climate and consumer advocacy groups, like Floridians for Fair Rates, pressured Scott to return the $1.2 million in campaign contributions that he received from Duke Energy.

“Politico reported that Scott’s campaign went on defense after NextGen Climate’s latest ad, ‘And Counting,’ went live in Tampa Bay earlier this week. The ad highlighted how Scott not only accepted Duke’s dirty campaign money, but also allowed the utility to rip off Tampa Bay ratepayers at the same time. It’s easy to get defensive when your pockets are full of dirty campaign money from an energy company that has gouged Florida ratepayers to the tune of $3.2 billion and counting.

“Rick Scott needs to return the campaign contributions to Duke Energy, now. He needs to stand with Florida’s working families and put an end to the ongoing gouging of ratepayers. These scandals demonstrate that Governor Scott stands only with the powerful few and corporate special interests that contribute to his campaign.”