Cerabino: Our Gov. Scott is a sexual-harassment warrior in training

7:05 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 Local
Frank Cerabino

Gov. Rick Scott planted his flag this week on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.

He won’t stand for it, no he won’t.

“It is absolutely disgusting to hear the numerous accounts of sexual harassment happening across the country,” Scott said. “Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe and free from any form of harassment.”

Scott’s words were part of his call for state agencies to adopt workplace policies and provide worker training for supervisors and new employees when it comes to sexual harassment.

Gotta be vigilant to weed out those horn-dogs in the workplace. So let the training begin.

OK, fine. Here’s a suggestion: Can we start with the governor’s office?

Because nine days before Scott climbed on this high horse, Mitch Workman, the former state legislator Scott appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission, suddenly removed his name from the confirmation process.

Workman’s exit followed a public calling-out by Florida Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers.

“At a public charity event in 2016, former Rep. Ritch Workman approached me from behind, pushed his body up against me and made vulgar and inappropriate gestures,” Benacquisto said in a prepared statement. “I immediately asked him to stop. He continued to make vulgar and inappropriate comments and gestures until other attendees intervened.”

Within minutes of Benacquisto’s statement, Workman withdrew from the confirmation process for the $131,000-a-year post, saying he recalled the event differently, but apologizing to Benacquisto.

Benacquisto is the chairman of the Florida Senate Rules Committee, and one of two female state senators who called on state workers to “be strong” and “be brave” by reporting sexual misconduct in the workplace.

And by virtue of her job, she was also in the position to confirm Workman’s nomination to the Public Service Commission, which she refused to do.

The question is, how long did Gov. Scott, the newly minted guardian of workplace decorum, know about Benacquisto’s complaint about Workman?

Benacquisto had a private meeting with Scott a month before she went public with her complaint. Reporters asked Scott whether he learned about her complaint then and did nothing about it for a month.

Rather than answer the question, Scott said this:

“I don’t go into conversations I have with members of the Legislature.”

Not a comforting answer. It would have been simple for Scott to deny prior knowledge of Benacquisto’s complaint if that were the case.

Sounds like a good training opportunity for the governor.

And while we’re on the topic of “absolutely disgusting” behavior, this might be a good spot in the training to weave in a discussion about dwarf tossing.

You see, Workman, the guy Scott appointed for the PSC, was also the state legislator who once had filed a bill to bring back the barbaric and dangerous barroom spectacle of tossing small human beings for entertainment.

The game of strength had been outlawed in Florida in 1989. Workman thought the ban was an example of overbearing government regulation.

“All that it does is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs they would be happy to get,” Workman had said.

I’m no psychologist, but I’ll bet there’s a high correlation between guys who want to enable dwarf tossing and guys who creep out women in the workplace.

Maybe that will come up in Scott’s training before he picks somebody else for the commission.