In a debate yesterday in Florida with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink, Republican Rick Scott surprised Sink with a demand to explain why Sink approved applications for insurance licenses from convicted felons.  Sunshine State News follows up with a report that on six occasions Sink waived regulations intended to keep felons from selling insurance in the state.  Convictions include grand larceny, forgery, and assault on a police officer:

On at least six occasions, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink approved felons’ applications to sell insurance in Florida.

In a series of letters to felons last year, Sink flashed the green light to applicants who had been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to the following:

  • Assault on a police officer.
  • Resisting arrest with violence.
  • Grand larceny.
  • Conspiracy to use unauthorized credit cards.
  • Obtaining property for a worthless check.
  • Forgery.
  • Parole violation. …

According to records obtained by Sunshine State News, each of the six applicants, whose names were redacted, were granted final approval to sell insurance in Florida.

Their product lines are mainly health and life insurance, including annuities. Companies run the gamut from small operators to big-name insurers, such as Humana and Prudential.

Sink apparently knew nothing of the issue before the debate.  SSN reports that she huddled with aides immediately after the debate was over and “quizzed” them over the issue.  This speaks directly to her stewardship as a constitutional officer in Florida, and it could be very damaging to any argument Sink makes about her competence to move up to the top executive job — which is responsible for law enforcement in general.

At least at the moment, though, Quinnipiac shows Sink closing the gap a bit with Scott.  However, this story (if corroborated) could reverse the basis of her surge:

Closing the Florida governor’s race to a dead heat, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat, now has 44 percent of likely voters to Republican Rick Scott’s 45 percent, compared to the Republican’s 49 – 43 percent lead October 1, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Ms. Sink’s surge could be tied to voter belief, 44 – 28 percent, that she was a more ethical businessperson than Scott when both were in the private sector, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds. A total of 89 percent of likely voters say a candidate’s record in business is either somewhat or very important to their vote choice. …

Florida independent likely voters say 50 – 24 percent that Sink, the former president of Bank of America’s Florida division, was more ethical in business than Scott, the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, the nation’s largest hospital chain.

The race will probably hinge less on business ethics and law enforcement than on the economy. Only 20% of the likely voters polled by Quinnipiac think the economy is improving, while 34% think it is getting worse. While this will be a close race — much closer than the Senate race — the likely impact of this story will be to neutralize the ethics debate and focus it back on the economy and jobs, and matters of future policy.

Tags: Florida