Among all the third rails in American politics -- abortion, gun control, Jodie Foster's Golden Globes speech -- there is one truly untouchable area: Messing with cute dogs. Just ask Mitt Romney how the tale of strapping the family pooch to the roof of his car for a cross-country trip worked out.
Well, Rick Scott is about to feel the blowback of a dog-loving nation. Some truly intrepid reporting by the Tampa Bay Times solved a long simmering mystery over what happened to an adorable lab named Reagan that Scott very publicly adopted during the 2010 campaign. Turns out the governor dumped the dog as soon as he won office.
Pulitzers, listen up: The Times deserves an investigative prize for getting to the bottom of this. It took two reporters, multiple spokespeople, a cigarette smoking man in a trench coat who would only meet in parking garages after 3 a.m, and finally a direct appeal to the governor himself to find out what the hell happened to poor Reagan the dog.
The canine's sad tale started with Scott's announcement during the campaign that his family had rescued a lab, and an appeal on Facebook for help picking a name. After sorting the results, he posted this, the Times reports:
"The Scott family is proud to announce that the name (chosen by you) for their newly adopted pup is Reagan! Thanks to everyone who participated in the fun contest."
And then ... Reagan disappeared from public light.
Scott's spokespeople reacted to questions about the dog as if they were being quizzed about Jim Greer's hookers-in-the-Bahamas allegations.
The reporters got so "exasperated" one even asked Brian Burgess, Scott's campaign spokesman, if he'd personally killed the dog. (He was willing to say on the record he hadn't, but that was it.)
Finally, on Monday, a Times reporter directly asked the governor about Reagan. Scott admitted the truth:
"He was a rescue dog,'' Scott said, "and he couldn't be around anybody that was carrying anything, and so he wouldn't get better."
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Staff members were scared of Reagan, Scott said, so after a month, the governor sent the dog back to its previous owner.
So there you have it: Rick Scott rescued a dog in the heat of the campaign, got elected -- mostly thanks to Reagan, we're just going to assume -- and then fired the pup like a downsized health care worker after taking the governor's mansion.
Florida's governor, folks!