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Auto insurance group strokes $100k check to Rick Scott as he pushes PIP, bashes ‘special interests’

On Wednesday, when it wasn’t clear if the Legislature would give Gov. Rick Scott a win and overhaul Personal Injury Protection auto insurance to his liking, one thing was certain in the state Capitol: The auto insurance industry was very happy with Scott.

United Group Underwriters, an affiliate of United Automobile Insurance Company, gave $100,000 to Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee. At the same time, Scott was preparing to bash the Senate’s PIP bill it passed Wednesday, which mandated rate reductions and wasn’t as strict as a House measure.

Scott said the Senate bill didn’t do enough to reduce fraud – words echoed by the dozens of lobbyists representing the industry.

Said Scott: “The Senate bill seems like it’s been written by special interests.”

At the same time, the other special interests were writing Scott his big check. It accounts for about a third of the $317,000 Scott has raised since the beginning of the year. Since January 2011, Scott has pulled in a total of $774,751. Some of the biggest contributions came from some of the biggest players in the just-ended legislative session: Miguel B Fernandez ($125,000), Florida Optometric CCE ($100,000), Florida Retail Federation ($100,000), and Florida Association of Insurance Agent ($50,000).

Scott’s supporters, like any politician collecting big checks, says his contributors aren’t buying him – instead, they’re buying his agenda. Scott set out early this year to overhaul PIP, which the auto-insurance industry has sought for years.

In the waning days, Scott, his staff and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll worked the Senate and got just enough votes to back a compromise bill that passed Friday out of the Legislature

“This is a triumphant moment for the residents of Florida,” Scott said in a written statement after the bill passed. “Members of the legislature heard our call to put Floridians ahead of special interests and combat the fraud that has become a billion dollar tax on drivers.”