After GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott was served with a subpoena during a press conference Tuesday, speculation abounded as to whether Scott’s opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, played a hand in the drama.
His campaign has certainly jumped on the story, and Steven Andrews, the Tallahassee lawyer whose lawsuit against Scott’s health care company, Solantic, resulted in the subpoena, donated $500 to McCollum. (He also donated to Democrat Alex Sink.)
All that aside, McCollum said in an interview with Battle ‘10 Wednesday that he wasn’t involved and didn’t have prior knowledge of the subpoena.
“I don’t know if anybody in my campaign was, but I wasn’t aware of it,” McCollum said. “I saw it on television replayed, that’s the first I knew of it.”
Here’s how the candidate sums up the timeline of events:
“I’ll give you the only narrative I know. I’ve been made aware that we got an email — I’ve never even looked at the email, I’ve never personally seen it — from a former employee-doctor of Solantic, who made some very strong accusations against the company and Rick Scott,” McCollum said. “Our campaign, not involving my office officially in any way, our campaign went to a very reputable outside criminal lawyer and asked for him to give us an opinion: ‘What should we do with this? What do you think of this?’ … And he came back, having reviewed it, with the strong opinion that we had an obligation to turn this over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”
After that, McCollum said the campaign left the matter alone.
“We have not had, to my knowledge — I certainly have not had — any contact with — I don’t even know the lawyer personally that gave the opinion, and I certainly don’t know the fellow — Steve, was it, Andrews?” McCollum said. “Now he may have contributed to me, and perhaps I met him at a fundraising event. I don’t remember whether I met him or not, but I don’t recognize the name.”
As for the speculation that the young man at the press conference handing copies of the subpoena to reporters was a political operative, McCollum voiced skepticism.
“I doubt that it was our folks,” McCollum said. “I wasn’t aware there was going to be a subpoena, like I told you.”
The Scott campaign isn’t buying it. Spokesman Joe Kildea questioned how accusations sent by the doctor to the McCollum campaign ended up in Andrews’ court documents.
“Between being a McCollum donor and the campaign’s ‘leaked memo’ showing up in his court papers, it’s ridiculous to say anything other than Bill McCollum’s fingerprints are all over this preposterous campaign stunt,” Kildea said in an email.
Further, Kildea said the subpoena was addressed to the location of Scott’s press conference, not his home or business, which he said is evidence of political motivation.
“The McCollum ally listed Rick’s address as the FL Press Association and there were people handing out copies of the subpoena before our event — this wasn’t about the law, it was about being behind in the polls,” Kildea said. “This is clearly another example of Bill McCollum abusing his office for his own political gain, more dirty tricks from a career politician.”