Gov. Rick Scott discusses voter purge, other issues

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The White House and the United States Department of Homeland have stalled efforts by the State of Florida to prevent non-citizens from voting in its elections, Governor Rick Scott said on Monday.

Scott made the allegation hours before the state sued the Department of Homeland Security for access to a database it says is critical to its efforts.

"The debate is over," he said. "We clearly have proof that non-citizens are voting in our elections. As your governor, I have an obligation to enforce the law. And, I intend to do that."

Last week, Scott, who asked the Department of Homeland Security for its federal citizenship database, defied a United States Department of Justice order to stop the state's purge of its voter rolls after government officials said it was illegal.

County elections officials suspended the purge and said they would not follow through with the state's efforts until its legality could be resolved.

"We know individuals are voting in our elections that don't have the right to vote. That's wrong. It's illegal. It's a crime," he said. "Everybody wants to make sure that U.S. citizens vote in our elections. Non-citizens don't vote in our elections. So, I'm very comfortable that the right thing will happen here."

Scott did not say what course of action he would pursue if county elections officials remained steadfast in their opposition.



On Monday, Scott also weighed in on the United States Supreme Court's review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and other issues.

"I'm very optimistic that the Supreme Court will do the right thing and make sure that we all know that the federal government can't tell us what we should be buying," he said. "If they don't, I'm hopeful in this election we'll elect individuals that will repeal it. It's the biggest job-killer ever. It's horrible for patients. It'll push more jobs out. And, there's no way, as citizens, can we afford it."

Supreme Court justices were expected to decide the constitutionality of the nation's health care reform sometime in June.



As the debate over the shooting death of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin and state's so-called Stand Your Ground law continued, Scott said the second Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection town hall would provide valuable feedback for state legislators.

Hundreds of people from across the state were expected to attend the second town hall in Longwood, near Orlando, on Tuesday.

The town hall was the first that would be open to public comments.

"My goal is to have this feedback in time [for the next legislative session] so that we can look to see if anything needs to be changed with regard to the law," Scott said. "My goal is to get feedback and see if there is anything that we need to change."

Martin's parents were expected to deliver a petition to the panel with more than 340,000 signatures in support of a change to the law.



On Monday, the governor also turned his attention to education and tuition increases at Florida colleges and universities.

"Tuition has gone up rapidly in this state. Our students have ended up with a lot of debt. We [have to] keep higher [education] at a price that all Floridians can afford it," he said.

"I think our universities have to do what probably every city has done, every business has done and most families have done and that's tighten their belts, look at how they're spending their money, focus on the most important thing and that's making sure that when individuals finish their university education that they're able to get a job."



Still unclear was what role Scott would play in Tampa when Florida hosted the 2012 Republican National Convention in August.

Scott, who said he had never attended a party nomination convention, said the four-day convention would elevate the state's profile.

"It's a big economic boon to Tampa," he said. "I think the expectation is a $175 million boon to that community. It's a way for us to highlight and promote Florida."

Scott said more than 50,000 people were expected to attend the convention.



The first-term governor, whose popularity has waned since his election, also weighed in on efforts to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

"If they elect you the first time, and you did what you said you were going to do, you know, you'll get re-elected," he said.

"It's also helpful if what you say you're going to do does work. In Wisconsin's case, jobs are coming back, the perception of Wisconsin as far as a good place to do business has dramatically improved, so I think that's that helped Governor Walker."

Last week, Walker defeated

Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to become the first governor in the United States to survive a recall election.

The effort had been driven by union and Democratic leaders after Walker eliminated most collective bargaining agreements for the state's public employees.


This morning, Scott appeared at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton to sign a bill designed to prevent companies from doing business with Iran or organizations designated terrorist organizations by the United States.

Scott said the law would require banks report to the state any accounts that may be tied to Iran or or terrorist organizations and was in line with existing federal regulations.

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