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Gov. Scott: Bill Nelson’s Attempt to Undermine Voters’ Confidence in Elections Systems is Irresponsible and Reckless

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott released the below statement following the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) response to the Florida Department of State’s request for information on Bill Nelson’s confusing and concerning claims of Russian interference in Florida’s election systems.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Late last night, DHS and the FBI confirmed once again that Russians have not penetrated our elections systems like Bill Nelson claimed a few weeks ago to reporters. We take threats like this very seriously and have made major investments to fight these types of attacks. Floridians are voting, with more than one million ballots already cast in our primary election. It is irresponsible and reckless that Bill Nelson would attempt to undermine the voters’ confidence in their county elections systems by making confusing statements while campaigning and then walking away with absolutely no explanation. Even worse, he’s done so with no evidence, potentially revealing classified information, and with a constantly shifting explanation for his bizarre remarks. Bill Nelson has either been deeply confused or very dishonest – and an alarming possibility exists that he is both on this issue. Bill Nelson’s confusion has caused chaos and he should be transparent with the state, Florida voters and the hardworking election supervisors about his unfortunate decision to undermine voters’ confidence in our election systems.”

For the last two weeks, voters, reporters, election supervisors and government officials (state and federal) alike have struggled to understand the bizarre comments made by Bill Nelson regarding Russian intrusion into Florida’s election systems.

The more Bill Nelson talks, the more confused everyone becomes – which is probably why he went into hiding for days. But now that he’s popped his head back up to confuse everyone even more, it’s worth taking a look back at what he’s said on the subject.

  • July 2nd: A letter sent by Senators Rubio and Nelson warned that “Russian Government actors targeted our election infrastructure during the 2016 election…it is possible that additional activity occurred and has not yet been uncovered.”
  • August 7th: In a gaggle with Tallahassee reporters, Nelson said that “Russians are in Florida’s records.” When asked which records the Russians are accessing, Nelson replied “that’s classified.”
  • August 8th: Asked to clarify his bizarre remarks, Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times that this hack was occurring “right now” and that the Russians “are in the records and all they have to do…is go in and start eliminating registered voters.” He added that “they have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about” and said “this is no fooling time.”
  • August 14th: After going underground for 6 days, Nelson popped up to confuse everyone even more. Nelson backtracked, claiming that he didn’t actually say what he said a week earlier. “I referenced the letter. And so, the bottom line is you can sum it up like this. It would be foolish to think that the Russians are not continuing since they were in our election records in Florida in 2016.”
  • August 14th, Part 2: Later that day, Nelson backtracked even more. He told supporters that “what I said last week was exactly the letter – what the letter states.” Of course, what he said on July 7th and 8th is not at all what the letter stated.
  • August 15th: The next day, Nelson did two interviews where he claimedthat “intelligence reports point out that the Russians are continuing their activity in the election records of Florida” and that “the Department of Homeland Security is not necessarily going to know that those records have been invaded.” He then told a reporter on Capitol Hill that he would no longer talk to reporters on this topic.
  • August 17th: Two days later, NBC published a story that states there is “a classified basis for Nelson’s assertion” but that “the extent and seriousness of the threat remains unclear, shrouded for reasons of national security.” Nelson claimed he was vindicated – his official office blasted out the story and RT’d from his official account. The story included claims that Nelson revealed classified information to reporters on August 7th and 8th.
  • August 18th: Literally the next day, Nelson called claims in the NBC story a lie, saying that the idea he revealed classified information is “ridiculous…It says that three classified sources confirmed. That’s not saying anything about me using classified information.” [NBC: “details…remain classified.”]
  • August 20th: Nelson goes on the Senate floor to talk about voting, but doesn’t mention, clarify or provide any evidence for his claims.

Meanwhile, the Florida Secretary of State, Florida County Election Supervisors, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee have no evidence that they’ve provided to back up any of Bill Nelson’s claims.

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