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Sen. Rick Scott Again Maintains That Clinton DOJ ‘Went After Me’ When He Led His Hospital Chain

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott at Ascend Engineering in Largo on May 13, 2024 (Photo credit: Mitch Perry)

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U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who is campaigning for reelection and bringing up his past in the 1990s, repeated on Monday that he was unfairly singled out by former President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department when he was the CEO of Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

The hospital chain was fined $1.7 billion in Medicare for fraud, which at the time was the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history.

Speaking to reporters in Pinellas County following an event with small businesses, Scott said Monday, “I can relate to this. I went through this – I was the lead opponent of HillaryCare. HillaryCare was a government takeover of health care. I completely opposed it. I was in the hospital business at the time. She used the – the Clinton Justice Department went after me. Now, I think it was wrong, and I’ve watched this happen to businesses.”

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Also, “That’s not the way this country should operate,” Scott said. “This country – you should not be worried about your government. So I’m very appreciative that [Former President Donald] Trump has been able to stand up for what he believes. He’s fighting for our Constitution. I’m going to continue to support him, but this idea of using the court systems, your federal government using your court system to go after political opponents is wrong.”

A reporter for the Phoenix then followed up, asking whether the senator was saying that he and Columbia/HCA had been treated unfairly because of his criticism of the Clinton health care plan.

“Absolutely,” Scott replied.

“HillaryCare” was the derisive term used by Republicans to oppose the health care reform package proposed by the Bill Clinton administration in 1993. The former president had appointed First Lady Hillary Clinton to lead a task force charged with coming up with a new healthcare reform plan, but a year later the proposal died in the U.S. Senate. Columbia/HCA was the largest hospital company in the U.S. at the time, and Scott was a leading opponent of the reform plans.

But in 1997, Scott resigned as CEO of Columbia/HCA following allegations of Medicare fraud. In 2000, Scott invoked the 5th Amendment 75 times in a deposition as part of a civil case involving his time leading the company. The company ultimately was fined $1.7 billion, according to PolitiFact.

The issue has been raised by Democrats to hurt Scott’s candidacies in all three previous statewide races that he’s been engaged in Florida, none of which he has won by more than 1.2 percentage points (that was in 2010, his first run for governor against Alex Sink). In 2018, he defeated Democratic Senate incumbent Bill Nelson by just a little more than 10,000 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast.

In a 2014 gubernatorial debate broadcast on CNN, moderator Jake Tapper asked Scott about a previous comment that he “took responsibility” for the $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine. Tapper asked: what was he taking responsibility for?

“I could have hired more auditors,” Scott said at the time.

One reason perhaps why Scott isn’t concerned about bringing up the issue now is that he is in a much better political position currently with nearly six months to go before the election compared to his previous campaigns.

Recent polls show him with a comfortable, double-digit lead over his likely Democratic Senate opponent in the fall — former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Scott is up 15 points (54%-39%) in a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll published last week. A USA TODAY/Ipsos survey published last month had him by 10 points over his Democratic opponent (36%-26%), with 74% of those surveyed admitting that they had never heard of the Democratic candidate.

Those large leads are in part because for the first time since he’s run for statewide office, Republicans now outrank Democrats in voter registration. The GOP now has nearly a 900,000 voter-registration lead over Democrats, according to the most recent statistics posted by the state’s Division of Elections.

Scott was at Ascend Engineering in Largo on Monday, where he launched his “Small Businesses for Rick Scott” effort. He was joined by dozens of local small business owners and received formal endorsements from the upper crust of the Florida business establishment, including Mark Wilson from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Scott Shalley from the Florida Retail Federation, Walter Carpenter from the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Florida, and Adam Basford, the VP of governmental affairs for Associated Industries of Florida.

Scott says that the Biden administration’s Justice Department is persecuting Trump, when in fact it is the District Attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting the case. But Scott maintains that because one of the prosecutors in Bragg’s office was previously a senior official at the U.S. Justice Department, there is a link.

The post Sen. Rick Scott again maintains that Clinton DOJ ‘went after me’ when he led his hospital chain appeared first on Florida Phoenix.

This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.

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