Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fallout From Mike Fernandez Emails

Miguel "Mike" Fernandez is the chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, L.P. Fernandez was the finance co-chairman of the Gov. Rick Scott campaign util a fallout with campaign staffers. The Miami Herald reports that Fernandez accused staffers of racial insensitivity in an email.

In his Feb. 20 email, Fernandez said a business partner, identified only as Luis, heard a Scott campaign staff member “mimicking a Mexican accent.”

“It’s culturally insensitive for him to hear a senior staff members (sic) mimicking a Mexican accent on the way to Chipotle. It shows that the team does not understand the culture YOU need to win,” Fernandez wrote on his iPad.

Fernandez was not present when the alleged comments were made. Fernandez believes comments like this will alienate the Hispanic vote.

uis works with me, he is my partner and it's culturally insensitive for him to hear a senior staff members mimicking a Mexican accent on the way to Chipolte. It shows that the team does not understand the culture YOU need to win. Would you hire me to manage a campaign in Mississippi for a country bumpkin? I hope not. We have one Texan, one guy from Wisconsin, I don't know where Tim (a brilliant guy) is from, but I guarantee you he is not from Florida, and one smart mercenary strategist. I truly believe that the difference in this race is the Hispanic vote. But what do I know, I have only made over a billion selling to this population.

In 2010, Scott to promised sign anti-immigration law like the law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer. The law would allow Arizona police to detain anyone they suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The Supreme Court ruled that Arizona was overstepping their legal authority. Immigration status is decided by the federal government. Scott won no fans in the Hispanic community by supporting Arizona's law.

The Florida Democratic establishment is pouncing on the Fernandez controversy.

"Rick Scott’s campaign staff mocked Florida Hispanics like school children. That’s unacceptable from the people trying to elect a governor in one of the most diverse states in the nation,'' said Rivas Logan, now a Miami Democrat, in a conference call with reporters. "These anti-Hispanic comments are exactly the kind of comments that made up my mind to leave the Republican Party."

Logan urged Scott to fire the campaign staffers who made the alleged remarks. Melissa Sellers, Scott's spokesperson, did a less than thorough investigation.

“Mike (Fernandez) was not in the van,” Scott’s campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, told the Herald.

“I spoke to every staffer in the van,” she added. “If something was said in an accent, no one remembers what it was. We are a diverse organization and we do not tolerate inappropriate comments.”
The Scott campaign has handled this scandal badly. The usual Scott response is to ignore the situation and hope that it fades from the news cycle. We will see if that is the case.

Update: At the West Tampa Sandwich Shop, Charlie Crist attacked Rick Scott's handling of the Fernandez email controversy.

"If I were the head of the campaign on the other side, Rick Scott, and something would have happened like that in my campaign, those people would have been fired already.," the former governor said of the current one. "If Rick Scott’s aides are making fun of how Hispanics talk? That’s unconscionable. And they need to get to the bottom of it, and you need to as well," he said to the reporters recording his comments.

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