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Governor Scott Dodges Charges His Campaign Disses Hispanics

DAVIE (CBSMiami) - Governor Rick Rick Scott was in Davie, North of the Miami-Dade border Friday, and not talking about the resignation down South in Coral Gables that rocked his campaign.

At an event celebrating the completion of the I-595 reversed lanes project, Scott stormed away from reporters when pressed about an allegation brought by billionaire Mike Fernandez who quit last week as co-chair of the Scott finance effort.

In an email of resignation, Fernandez said Scott's campaign staff are "culturally insensitive," and "do not understand the (Hispanic) culture."

Read more: Miami-Dade Transit Board Member Resigns Amidst Scott's Hispanic Problems

The GOP heavyweight said the issue was pervasive, that Scott's campaign team wasn't engaging the Hispanic community and displayed - in one episode - outright bigotry.  Enroute to an event at a Chipotle restaurant in Miami-Dade, Fernandez claimed Scott staff allegedly mocked Mexicans, speaking in an exaggerated Mexican accent.  Scott's campaign has denied that happened.

Thursday, Gonzalo Sanabria, another wealthy GOP Hispanic resigned his post on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority board, and resigned as a state Republican committeeman.

"I myself have been mistreated by Governor Scott's staff," Sanabria told CBS4 News.  Sanabria said he was outraged at the dismissive attitude of Scott's people toward the Hispanic community and his feelings were confirmed by the resignation of Fernandez.

Scott on Friday said Sanabria didn't quit, he was fired.

"Mr. Sanabria resigned after he was told he was not going to be reappointed," Scott said.

Sanabria says that's not true, that Scott booted him only after he made it clear to the administration and the state Republican party that he was quitting - outraged over the campaign's dismissive treatment of Hispanics.

Frank Collins, a Scott spokesperson, said Sanabria sent an email to the Governor after being shown the door saying that he was "upset about not being reappointed."  The Governor's office was unable to produce any such email, however.  In the only email provided to CBS4, Sanabria in no way suggests he was "upset about not being reappointed," only his anger over the perceived mistreatment of Fernandez and Hispanics in general.

The importance of the Hispanic vote is not lost on Scott, who picked Miami-Dade's Carlos Lopez-Cantera as his running mate.

Democrats have run spots on the internet, making much of the criticism leveled against Scott by Fernandez.

Political consultant Fernand Amandi says the Governor has erred by not addressing the criticism from Fernandez and Sanabria.

"It puts his re-election in peril.  He won against Alex Sink in 2010 largely because of winning the Hispanic vote," Amandi said.  "Anything that puts that in jeopardy puts his re-election in peril."

If Scott feels imperiled, he wouldn't talk about it Friday.  In fact, the Governor indirectly suggested he can get along fine without Fernandez, a storied rain maker, saying campaign donations are coming in at a good clip.



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