McKeel: Gov. needs to repair media relations
News Chief – June 22, 2011
BARTOW — State Rep. Seth McKeel had a little advice for his fellow Republican, Gov. Rick Scott, at Tiger Bay Repair your relations with the news media.
Questioned about the state’s Sunshine Laws during his speech before the public affairs club at the Peace River Country Club in Bartow on Monday, McKeel said the governor needs to open up to the press.
“During the campaign, the governor chose not to meet with editorial boards. It might have been a good strategy in an election with people not knowing him,” said McKeel, a Lakeland Republican who is in his third term in the House.
The governor did make an exception early in his campaign by meeting with the editorial board of The Ledger, but he met with almost no other editorial boards.
“What he has not done is repair that distance with the editorial boards around the state,” McKeel said.
“From the House, we try to be very open, to be transparent,” McKeel said.
McKeel, the chairman of the State Affairs Committee and a member of the leadership circle in the House, agreed to address the group earlier than planned after Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, canceled last week because of business that required his attention, said Tiger Bay official Al Dorsett.
Some attendees had said they showed up to ask Alexander about his last-minute amendment to a citrus bill changing the Citrus Commission. It was controversial in the citrus industry.
One questioner asked McKeel about the legislation, which reduced the number of commissioners and the number of citrus districts.
“It wasn’t my proposal, but I clearly supported the bill itself because of other issues I supported within it,” McKeel said.
The initial bill had numerous administrative changes and food safety provisions within the Department of Agriculture.
McKeel worked closely with his friend and political ally, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
McKeel said one important bill, now awaiting the governor’s signature, will move the school nutrition program from the Department of Education to the Department of Agriculture.