Rick Scott campaign abruptly ends press call after questions over staffers' racist jokes

Former finance co-chairman Mike Fernandez left the campaign last week, reportedly due in part to offensive jokes

Published March 24, 2014 7:50PM (EDT)

Ever since billionaire Mike Fernandez decided to step down last week as the finance co-chairman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign, Scott's team has been scrambling to change the subject and avoid addressing reports that Fernandez's departure was due to Scott staffers making racially charged jokes.

But as a press conference call on Monday proved, Scott's campaign is finding that moving on from the Fernandez fiasco won't be easy.

Monday's call featured Scott's lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and was intended to be about the Scott campaign's latest ad. Reporters on the call, however, had different ideas.

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, Lopez-Cantera received one question about the new commercial, and then three straight about Fernandez's departure. After the third question, Lopez-Cantera remarked that he was there to talk about the commercial, not Fernandez.

At that point, Republican Party of Florida communications director Susan Hepworth suddenly ended the call, saying the lieutenant governor had run out of time. In total, the call only lasted 17 minutes.

Fernandez was reportedly upset with Scott staffers who were joking around in exaggerated and derogatory Mexican accents. Fernandez was born in Cuba, and Florida has a significant Spanish-speaking population.

[h/t TPM]

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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