Florida Democrats like Gwen Graham, State Senator Gary Farmer, and their allies, like First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen, are all dishonestly trying to attack Governor Rick Scott for “deleting voicemails from his cell phone” in the wake of the deaths of 12 people at a Hollywood Hills nursing home. Calling Graham, Farmer and Petersen out for their dishonesty is the only option, because the only other possible explanation for their actions is that they are complete and utter idiots. And they just can’t be quite stupid enough to actually think they are being honest on this issue.
Here is verbatim media coverage of the dishonest attacks leveled by these three political hacks:
“Why would they have deleted voicemails in the middle of a crisis? These weren’t transitory scheduling requests. These were Floridians asking for help in a crisis,” Graham said in a release. “I won’t take Governor Rick Scott’s word for it. The people of Florida deserve to hear these voicemails — they deserve to hear the truth.”
But Farmer, who initially called for an FDLE probe, now wants a U.S. attorney to look into the matter because he doesn’t trust Scott’s administration.
“The governor has now inserted himself squarely in this dispute, and he may have done away with very material evidence of the dispute,” Farmer said. “The veracity of his office and his various departments and agencies are now in question.”
“Just because they could delete them doesn’t mean they should delete them,” Petersen said. “These were important; people died.”
Note that Petersen directly contradicts Farmer and Graham by acknowledging there is no law against deleting voicemails. More on that later. Here are four reasons proving that Graham, Farmer, and Petersen are trying to use the tragedy to advance their own personal political agendas:
Exhibit 1: Nothing in the messages could possibly excuse the nursing home for failing to provide care for their own patients
As has been pointed out in previous coverage, it doesn’t matter what is contained on the voicemails left on the governor’s personal cell phone, because IF the situation was serious enough to warrant a call to Governor of the State of Florida, why not also just go ahead and move people out of the sweltering hot building and into air-conditioned accommodations across the street? Think about that for just a moment: what dire message, what combination of words, if left on the governor’s voicemail, could conceivably excuse the nursing home’s failure to act?
There are literally no words. Rick Scott said it best himself:
“Any health care professional that thinks calling an elected official’s cell phone instead of 911 when people are in need should not be allowed to have any access to patients.”
Exhibit 2: The governor’s staff took the messages and routed them correctly – the messages were transcribed and routed to the appropriate agency
There is literally nothing in the actions of Governor Rick Scott or his staff that Gwen Graham or Gary Farmer, or Democrats, or the First Amendment Foundation can possibly complain about. Nothing at all. That is why they are all resorting to dishonesty to score political points. More on that in a moment.
First, let’s look at the actual facts (not the manufactured allegations of three people playing politics with this tragedy).
Scott’s office acknowledged receiving messages from the nursing home. And they also routed those messages from the Office of the Governor to the appropriate state agency. There are actual documents proving this. These are public documents which show that the governor’s office staff – with the full weight and backing of the governor himself – made the appropriate agencies aware of the problem. But the governor also rightly points out that the nursing home wasn’t calling him to report an emergency – they were calling to ask for power to be restored – not exactly a unique request given that millions in the state were without power at the time.
Keep in mind that at the point the governor was getting phone calls, nobody, least of all the nursing home staff itself, had any clue just how serious things really were. Remember, it was the fire department, not the nursing home, that realized the full seriousness of the problem. The nursing home staff didn’t know at the time they called the governor, so how could anyone expect the Governor of the State of Florida to know?
Exhibit 3: On any normal day, If the governor’s voicemails don’t get deleted, his mailbox would be full within hours. During Hurricane Irma and its aftermath, his voicemail would be full within minutes.
We’ve all encountered the frustration of calling someone, getting their voicemail, and then being told by an automated message, “This mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages at this time. Goodbye.”
Being governor means you get a lot of calls. On an average day, Scott gets about 75 of them just on his personal cell phone (and we’re not even counting calls to his public phone line in Tallahassee). During Hurricane Irma, he was getting something like 200+ calls per day. His staff dutifully listened to each message, transcribed every one of them, then deleted those messages from his phone, to clear room for additional incoming messages.
For Democrats like Gwen Graham and Gary Farmer to suggest there is something sinister in trying to keep his voicemail cleared for more incoming calls proves they are either disgustingly dishonest, or utterly clueless about what it’s really like to be governor of the third largest state in America.
Exhibit 4: Under Florida law, phone calls, including voicemails, are considered “transient” and aren’t required to be kept
Gary Farmer, who is a trial attorney and who should know more about the law than the average Floridian, idiotically suggested a US attorney should look into the matter because “he doesn’t trust the Scott Administration.”
Based on his own words, nobody should ever trust his legal advice, because it’s clear he shouldn’t be admitted to practice law in the state of Florida. Either that, or he’s just a dishonest political hack. Since he obviously passed the bar exam, I’m forced to conclude it’s the latter. He has zero integrity and a shocking willingness to dishonestly smear people to achieve his own political aims.
Then there is Gwen Graham, who actually wants to be governor. As pointed out earlier, she followed in Farmer’s footsteps. Today she filed a public records request for information she knows isn’t required to be kept, and which she knows has zero value in terms of better understanding why the nursing home failed to move people out of a sweltering building. Further, her “public records request” has been rendered irrelevant by the fact that the messages were transcribed, transmitted by email, and those records already made public. There is simply no other way to explain her actions today as anything but a dishonest political stunt.
Like Farmer, Gwen Graham is also a lawyer and obviously knows the law. And like Farmer, she’s decided she’s willing to trade her integrity for just a little bit of political one-upsmanship.
Finally, there is Barbara Petersen, bless her heart. She’s also a lawyer, and she wades into the debate by first undercutting Farmer when she admits the governor has no legal obligation to keep the voicemails. But she just can’t help taking a shot at Scott by claiming he shouldn’t have deleted them, on the grounds that “they were important. People died.”
Except that statement is false. As explained above, not even the nursing home staff knew anyone was dead at the time they called Rick Scott. And Barbara Petersen must logically know this or she is necessarily an idiot that nobody should ever take seriously again.
But Barbara Petersen isn’t an idiot. She knows better. She’s been in and around state government long enough to know how it works. And shes smart enough not to run her mouth to a reporter without some understanding of the facts of the case.
Either way, her zeal for her own political agenda got in the way of the truth. For someone who claims to be a champion for transparency in government, if she conducted a transparent examination of her public comments on this story, she’d be forced to conclude that she owes the public an apology.
Rick Scott and his staff did all they knew to do at the time this tragedy unfolded. Period. Full stop.
That’s why is so disgusting that Gwen Graham, Gary Farmer and Barbara Petersen are trying to exploit the tragedy at Hollywood Hills just to advance their personal political agendas.