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Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Chief of Staff Resigns in Corruption Scandal

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL): Grifters' administration

Steve MacNamara, chief of staff to Florida Governor Rick Scott, has resigned after a scandal surrounding his steering no-bid contracts to friends. It’s a return to corruption for the Scott Administration, whose leader previously ran a medical company tagged with the largest fine for Medicare fraud in American history.

In the Senate, MacNamara steered a $5.5 million contract with Spider Data Systems for a software platform to improve public access to state budgets. The developer of the patented system, Anna Mattson, was a partner of lobbyist Jim Eaton, also a close friend of MacNamara’s. He also handed over a project to shift the Senate’s computer system from mainframe computers to another longtime acquaintance, Abe Uccello, at a cost of $380,000.

In the governor’s office, MacNamara overruled an agency head and allowed the film commissioner, whom he previously had helped get a job in the state Senate, to travel to the Sundance film festival. He was also accused of attempting to influence contracting outcomes and a controversial decision to allow barrel racing to be considered a parimutuel sport.

On Thursday, an ethics complaint filed against MacNamara accused him of using his staff time and state e-mail to apply for a job at a Catholic liberal arts college in Montana, where he had hoped to move after leaving the governor’s office. Public-records requests by The Herald/Times made to the governor’s office omitted the letter from MacNamara’s state e-mail account to the woman heading the presidential search effort for Carroll College in Helena.

Hilariously, Tea Party activists, who adopted Scott as one of their own, complained that MacNamara’s actions risked “squandering (Scott’s) conservative credentials and outsider brand by engaging in deal-making with special interests.” I thought Scott’s brand consisted of engaging in deal-making with special interests. He tried to hand over the state’s prisons to private companies. He initiated a policy of drug testing welfare recipients and delivered the contract to carry out the drug testing to a company in which he had a personal interest; he transferred the shares out of his name, but only into a trust controlled by his wife. This kind of pay-for-play is what Scott does.

And the fact that he named a political consultant from Jacksonville as MacNamara’s replacement doesn’t lend any credence to the theory that Scott represents an outsider politics. Scott has always been a grifter, and now he’s just a grifter in charge of Florida’s Republican Party.

MacNamara, meanwhile, if you can believe this professor of communications at Florida State University, is accused of, among other things, personally removing staff at state agencies. I wonder how much this has to do, if anything, with the firing of foreclosure fraud investigators June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.

More from Reuters.

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David Dayen

David Dayen