Orange County tax collector awash in controversy

scott randolph on House floor

Controversy continues to swirl around newly elected Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph after a series of questionable decisions by the former state representative.

In the latest flap, Randolph accepted an offer in early December to fill a vacant chief financial officer’s position at the office he had just been elected to lead, at an annual salary of $122,678, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was not scheduled to be sworn in as tax collector until Jan. 8.

Getting Randolph in the financial post was a move initiated by Assistant Tax Collector Kelly Goodwin, who is beholden to Randolph to keep her job, as the Sentinel makes sure to note.

Randolph sure appears to have been making decisions in the office before his term began, if you consider that Andrew Bell, identified by the Sentinel as “Randolph’s new special assistant,” began his job on Nov. 26.

Bell initially described his role in the Tax Collector’s Office as “Public Relations” on his Facebook page, but has since changed his job title to “Special Assistant.” However, Goodwin told me Bell was hired to fill an existing position as a “customer service specialist,” and she’s not sure why the Sentinel article referred to him as a “special assistant.”

As chairman of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, Randolph raised eyebrows when he jockeyed to position himself to replace Earl K. Wood, the Democrat who served as tax collector for nearly 50 years before passing away Oct. 15, after his name was already on the ballot.

Shortly after being elected, Randolph initiated a boycott of Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned business with nearly 500 stores nationwide, including a location in Orange County, after its owners refused to provide abortion-like birth control as part of its employee health insurance plan, as mandated by Obamacare.

It’s an unprecedented action that has put Hobby Lobby in a compromising position, where it must pay a tax collector actively boycotting its business.

Randolph continues to serve as chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, and Bell is identified on its website as “Campaigns Chair.” On his Facebook page, Bell lists as a previous employer Working America, an organization allied with the AFL-CIO and involved in any number of progressive issues.

In most cases, Gov. Rick Scott may have appointed someone like Randolph soon after his Nov. 6 victory, since the incumbent had died and was unable to serve the last months of his term. But there’s good reason Randolph may have not been a top priority for the governor.

His wife, Susannah Randolph, a former political director of now-defunct ACORN, heads up Florida Watch Action, a progressive-left group that has been targeting Scott via its “Pink Slip Rick” campaign.


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