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Scott lawyer admits he misled high court on rail

by John Kennedy | April 14th, 2011

In a remarkable admission, Rick Scott’s legal counsel Thursday told the Florida Supreme Court that he misled justices on the amount of money already spent on the  state’s high-speed rail project — a key detail that may have helped cinch the governor’s victory in a constitutional tug-of-war.

In a two-page letter to Chief Justice Charles Canady, Scott’s general counsel, Charles Trippe, acknowledged that last month he misrepresented a central fact in arguments supporting the governor’s rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project linking Tampa with Orlando.

Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, one of two senators who sued Scott saying he had exceeded his constitutional authority in killing the project, said Thursday evening that Trippe’s letter is a “huge admission.”

“It’s a material misrepresentation of the facts in this case,” Altman said. “We knew (Trippe) was wrong when he said it in court. But we couldn’t stop him from saying it.”

In the letter, Trippe admitted he was wrong when he told justices that $110 million of the $130 million authorized by the Florida Legislature for the project approved in 2009 had already been spent.

Instead, Trippe said only $31 million had actually been spent — a major gap that appears to have shaped the court’s decision that sided with Scott.

Indeed, Justice Barbara Pariente responded to Trippe’s claim during the hearing that Scott’s move against high-speed rail seemed to involve little remaining money. If so, Pariente suggested, the governor was likely empowered to stop the project.

“So the issue (as) to whether his actions affect the $130 million, you would argue — and of course we have very limited to no factual record here — but that is de minimis right now?” Pariente asked.

Trippe agreed, suggesting lawmakers were arguing over a trifling amount of cash.

“It is not only de minimis, but the statute itself provides for a carryover of it by the end of the year if the money hasn’t been spent. So he is not in violation…of this appropriation,” Trippe told the court.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, had joined Altman in the lawsuit, arguing that Scott acted like a “king” in rejecting the Legislature’s directive.

 But in a terse, one-page ruling, justices quickly killed the lawsuit following the hearing. They seemed to rely rely heavily on the facts of the project, as presented by Trippe — who now acknowledges he was wrong.

In its ruling, the court wrote, “Based on the limited record before the court and a review of the federal and state law relied on by the parties, the court has determined that the petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to . . . relief.”

At the time, Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said the governor was “gratified” by the decision. Critics, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, union representatives, and other rail advocates said that killing high-speed rail has cost the state at least 24,000 future jobs.

For his part, Scott has even taken partial credit for helping solve the Congressional budget standoff — by returning the high-speed rail cash to federal coffers.

Now, however, it looks like the ruling may have hinged on a misstatement by a top Scott official.

Trippe blamed the Florida Department of Transportation for giving him bad information, in his letter to Canady.

But Trippe concluded, “Nothing in the course of the court’s questioning or its written order leads me to believe that this error was material to the court’s resolution of the case.”

Trippe added, though, ”If the court requires any further explanation of this matter, I will be happy to provide it.”

Altman said he is still exploring his next step, which could include asking the court for a rehearing.

“The court relied on wrong information,” Altman said. “The governor’s counsel misrepresented the facts.”

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28 Responses to “Scott lawyer admits he misled high court on rail”

  1. Educator Says:

    LOL The Courts will screw this Fascist one way or another. I still predict Tax Evasion charges from the Federal Level, BUT NOT YET! He is THE BEST THING to happen to the Democrats since Palin!

  2. Slick Rick Says:

    I plead the 5th!

  3. jeffylou Says:

    I don’t see where it says whether or not Governor Scott was complicit in his counsel’s lies.
    It stands to reason that he was/is. No surprise.
    What it is going to take for FL to recall our sociopathic Governor? How many more lies, insults and harmful decisions do we need?

  4. J. Burke Says:

    A better question is why a state senator from Rockledge (east coast) is filing a lawsuit for a rail between Orlando & Tampa. Are there some $ under the table there?

  5. mike Says:

    Lies, lies and more lies. How much do we have to put up with before we recall or impeach. How many more facts of impropriety and criminal acts do scott supporters need before they admit that they made a huge mistake?

  6. Dmann Says:

    @ J. Burke. Nice adult question. What else would it be about? Someone stands to make a handsome profit, on a needless bullet train. Someone with political connections. Many a millionaire has been made via Federal/State contracts. Easy money. Anybody that p.o.’s as many people as Scott does, is probably doing something right.

  7. Rocky Says:

    I agree with Mike above. The lies and tricks never stop – more lies told by the Rick Scott team to get their way. This is the most disgusting administration in power…shame on those who voted for Scott and the tea smokers – its to the point of disgust.

  8. pickaxe Says:

    J Burke and DMann: Maybe it’s because that senator believes in high-speed rail, as many people do, and want to see the progress it will bring to this state – which it will. Are you truly worried about boondoggles? Then put the spyglass on Wackenhut and the privatizing of prisons, or the privatizing of highway tolls. Oh, and don’t forget the FCAT! That was and is a grand boondoggle for that testing company run by the lesser-known Bush brother!

    Of course someone is going to make money on this project, but it’s still worth doing, it is needed to upgrade our transportation system, and I along with many others would like to have a chance to use it. A generation ago, Floridians would be excited about this project. Today, there’s no imagination, no vision, no goals, no adaptation, no innovation. Such is what we get with conservative thinking.

  9. Tanveer latif Says:

    i am live pakistan city in the lahore cannt area.i am a student of am poor man.i am not involve rong acctivities

  10. wyn Says:

    Why is anyone surprised. Once a crook always a crook. Once a liar always a liar. If he could only lie his way into creating some real jobs for the folks in Florida. RECALL Rick Scott and put hi in a federal prison where he belongs with the other corrupt politicians and white collar criminals.

  11. jim Says:

    It’s not a lie if you’re just trying to win your political argument. Just ask Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who has admitted that he was not making “a factual statement” when he overstated Planned Parenthood’s abortion services by 87 percent while speaking on the House floor.

  12. Pat Says:

    Am I the only person who read the article before commenting? It seems most are ready to throw Scott and his attorney under the bus when the article clearly states that the Department of Transportation gave the Scott attorney the figure and it has since been corrected. The amount spent already would have no bearing on whether people within the area where the rail is would have the right to override the governor’s decision not to accept this money from the feds (which by the way, they don’t even have, because our country is almost where Greece was when it went down). I think the court’s decision was a good one and also agree with the Scott attorney, it probably had nothing to do with any money that had already been spent on this boondoggle.

  13. David Anthony Kearns of Palm Bay Florida Says:

    His version of the truth has never resonated with the voters. They (media/ethics commission) need to look into any quid pro quo with Kurt Browning. Any correspondences, emails or otherwise, related to the selection of Browning as sec. of state, need to be released.

  14. Garl Says:

    Words like “misled” and “misrepresent” imply material intent to deceive. How different that is from “I got it wrong.” The fair thing to have done would be to print the letter in its entirety. Oh…but that might have made the administration less “guilty.”

  15. No facts Pat Says:

    @pat, maybe if skeletor had appointed an FDOT secretary as he was supposed to, this wouldn’t have happened. He cannot hand pick the FDOT secretary as per state law, the candidates come from an approved pool. His temper tantrum over that fact shows what kind of spineless amoeba he truly is. And I’m a republican!!!!!

  16. mike riley Says:

    Less than 100 days in office and Rick Scott is up to his old tricks…Ah but heck, they were only lying to state judges….Come on Republicans, you spent 8 months teeling everyone what a criminal he was when he was running against Bill McCollum.

  17. Brett Says:

    Gosh, Rick Scott and his cronies better hurry up and get that legislation through that revamps the State Supreme Court to their advantage!

  18. Valerie Says:

    I don’t know what you mean by “spent”. What do you mean by “$110 million?” I don’t recall spending less than $110 million. What’s your definition of “already spent?” I’m not sure I understand what “how much money is left” is. I’m not sure what your definition of “money” would be. I’m not sure I understand. Way to go!

  19. ComradeAnon Says:

    Republicans. Lie. Always.

  20. Wung Woo Says:

    lol, that dude jsut looks corrupt as the day is long lol.

  21. Dmann Says:

    @ pickaxe. I appreciate your position. I see that stretch of rail as cost ineffective, but there are other routes that make economic sense. If you have some numbers on that stretch of rail that substantiate value, then perhaps I’m wrong. I’m not against anyone making a buck for the right reason, I just see far too much waste on frivolous stuff.

  22. bikerwalla Says:


    The word you’re looking for in this article is “lie”.

    He lied to the judge.

    Matter, Error, Misstatement, Suggested, Suggesting, Admission, Misrepresentation, Misled.

    These are all fabulous words, and congratulations for using them all, but the one word you did not use and should have used was LIE.

    Thank you for your time.

  23. norm Says:

    Wow, a Republican lied.

    Why is this even news, his Health company was corrupt and the place was shut down as he fled for the Governors house.

  24. Kc Says:

    I live in FL. The stupid ass rednecks here think that republicans & goddliness are the same. I work with a girl that has 2 kids, no husband, & the state pays for her housing & the welfare for her food. She hates Obama & believes that he, in fact, is the second coming of the devil. Uneducated & poor = republican in Florida. Go figure??

  25. Jon Says:

    Hah. I can’t help but laugh at that comment about an uneducated redneck girl with two kids, living off welfare and food stamps, who is a staunch Republican.

    She doesn’t even know that the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail, and especially this state’s governer, to remove welfare, remove foodstamps, remove medicaid. Every government subsidy that is keeping her and her kids alive. How will she feel then? She will blame Obama, the one person trying to stop it.

  26. dmj Says:

    Impeach Rick Scott! Impeach Rick Scott!
    Impeach Rick Scott! Impeach Rick Scott!

  27. John Says:

    I think it’s sad that in a time when the traffic on 1-4 continues to increase without any alternative we should be jumping at the chance to build alternative transportation systems. Private industries would have covered any overuns price wise, and it would have created jobs.

    Scott needs to be removed from office due to insanity.

  28. Allan Masri Says:

    Under the principles of agency, Scott is responsible for the actions of his agent, Trippe. If Trippe commits perjury while working for Scott, Scott may also also be charged with perjury.

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