ORLANDO, Fla. - After Gov. Rick Scott posed with local deputies and held a rally at a store used by local firefighters, 9 Investigates is looking into whether his campaign is using the agencies in his bid for re-election.
9 Investigates got a tip that the union for Orange County's firefighters has warned firefighters to steer clear of Scott and his campaign signs after those allegations surfaced. It's against the rules for them to endorse a candidate while in uniform.
Channel 9's Jeff Deal uncovered the governor also held a campaign event with deputies in uniform standing behind him, and he's facing an ethics complaint stemming from a similar event in Tampa.
Some officers at the Tampa event claim they were led to believe it was a news conference on crime, saying they had no idea it was actually a campaign event until after they got there.
Scott touted a tough stance on crime during a campaign stop at the Special Products Group in Orlando this month. It's also the company where Orange County firefighters get their uniforms.
irefighter's union recently sent a warning to all members about the sign outside that reads, "By entering this area, you consent to being filmed and authorize Rick Scott for Florida and its assignees to publish, display or otherwise publicly use the recording without limitation."
The union president told Channel 9 they "have a problem with a company who conducts business with the county, ambushing our members, who are often in uniform, in an attempt to show support for a candidate whom we will never endorse."
That very issue set off a firestorm of controversy in Tampa.
Some police officers there felt the governor's campaign tricked them into going to a campaign event on-duty and in uniform. They thought it was a news conference on crime.
9 Investigates wanted to know if the same thing happened in Orlando. Video shows Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma and Capt. Dan Purcell with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.
Lemma said they were well aware it was a campaign event and were off-duty. But he wasn't aware the Law Enforcement Officer Ethical Standards of Conduct says officers shall not endorse political candidates while "wearing the department's official uniform."
Lemma said he never signed anything adhering to that but admitted he made a mistake.
A spokesman for Scott's campaign said the signs were not a trick. They said they post them at all campaign stops so people are aware of the cameras and said they told officers at both events it was a campaign stop.
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