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Politics

State representative complains about Scott ad featuring teachers

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Published:   |   Updated: July 17, 2013 at 09:50 PM

State Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a public school teacher, has written to Gov. Rick Scott objecting to the use of video interviews with Florida teachers of the year in a political ad for Scott without their knowledge.

Castor Dentel, a Maitland Democrat, said in the letter that the teachers "were attending an event paid for with public dollars and were interviewed by public employees - only to later find themselves used by your Party in a political ad to enhance your campaign for re-election."

She noted that one of the teachers - one of only two who would discuss the subject with The Tampa Tribune - considered political use of the interviews inappropriate.

"Educators and fair-minded citizens across the state are very disappointed by the lack of judgment of the Republican Party" in making the ad, Castor Dentel wrote, noting that Scott is "titular head" of the party.

The educators, chosen as teachers of the year in their districts, were among about 40 Scott invited to a Teacher of the Year Summit on June 26-27, the first such event. It included a roundtable discussion of education and a reception at the governor's mansion.

Several attendees said a governor's office staff member asked their opinions of Scott and of his proposals for a teacher pay raise in video interviews at the mansion.

Complimentary comments about Scott from five of the interviews later appeared in a Web ad posted by the state GOP.

Scott's office disavowed responsibility, saying the party used video distributed in a governor's office news release without approval or coordination from the governor's office.

When the office sends out a news release, "Anyone can do anything they want with it," said spokeswoman Jackie Schutz.

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