St. Petersburg, FL -- Times have been so tough at Mortgage Investors Corporation in St. Petersburg lately, that they recently laid off hundreds of employees.
But the company's chairman, Bill Edwards, still had enough cash on-hand to donate close to $500,000 to Governor Rick Scott's re-election campaign.
Demonstrators gathered Tuesday outside MIC, saying the Governor should give that money back.
"It's beyond hypocrisy," said protester Vince Cocks.
Cocks and about a dozen others demonstrated outside Mortgage Investors Corporation by holding signs that slammed the "jobs jobs jobs" Governor Rick Scott for accepting the political contributions from Edwards.
"He can either keep this tainted campaign money or he can help hard-working Floridians that have lost their jobs," said Cocks.
The issue, they say, is that Edwards recently laid off hundreds of workers amid a scandal. MIC shelled out a record $7.5 million fine to settle allegations of no-call list violations targeting veterans.
Demonstrators say if Scott really cared so much about jobs, he should reject the donation or give the money to those laid-off employees.
"The Governor needs to condemn this shameful activity," said protester Moses Green, a Korean War veteran.
Governor Scott is in town for a private political fundraiser Tuesday night at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and Edwards is on the host committee.
"They're not out there needing the money we're giving to Governor Scott, OK? They have their own money and they've been given a great severance package," said Edwards when asked about the protest.
Edwards said his former workers were well taken care of, and doubted any of Tuesday's protesters were former employees.
We asked the protesters for any former MIC workers to speak up, and there was silence. Edwards was right. None of the demonstrators were former employees angry about his financial contribution.
"This is totally political. It has nothing to do with my employees," said Edwards.
But demonstrators say if Edwards has half a million dollars burning a hole in his pocket, he could have used it to save jobs other than Rick Scott's.
And they agreed: it is political.
"Politics is not a dirty word," said demonstrator Pete Gamble. "It's the way that individuals, citizens and people who vote express themselves."
"And now these people are without employment. These are people who've given so much and put their lives on the line," said demonstrator Nancy Shipes, "How can he do that? How could he do that? It's just despicable."
We reached out to Governor Scott's office for a response, but were referred to the Republican Party of Florida and were told Gov. Scott would not be available for comment at Tuesday night's political fundraiser.
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