POLITICS

New documents show another degree controversy dogs Scott's chief of staff

 

Oops. Adam Hollingsworth did it again.

After twice lying years ago about getting a 1990 college degree, Gov. Rick Scott's current chief of staff didn't fully disclose the date he received his bachelor's when he filled out a 2011 application for a high-level state post.

Hollingsworth received his University of Alabama communications degree in 2009 — not 1990 as he suggested on his May 27, 2011 application for an appointment to the board of Enterprise Florida Inc., the state's public-private economic development agency.

Hollingsworth wouldn't comment, but a spokeswoman for the governor's office said he wasn't misleading.

"The EFI application, which Adam completed after 2009 when he had his degree, did not request a graduation date so one was not provided," Melissa Sellers wrote in an email.

The Herald/Times reported that Hollingsworth twice claimed a degree from Alabama in connection with his work for the CSX Transportation Corp, which he left in 2004.

Hollingsworth last week acknowledged a "misrepresentation" and "failure in judgment." But he denied that his departure from CSX was linked to his false claim that he had earned a degree when he hadn't.

Also, Hollingsworth didn't tell Scott about the matter until a reporter asked him Friday.

Scott, however, is standing by his chief of staff and said Tuesday that Hollingsworth will "continue to do a great job."

On Tuesday, new records released by the governor's office showed that Hollingsworth wasn't completely forthcoming when it came to the Enterprise Florida application. The application instructions had straightforward demand for transparency: "The questionnaire MUST BE COMPLETED IN FULL."

On his application for the Enterprise Florida appointment, Hollingsworth wrote: "University of Alabama, 1986-1990, BA, Communications." The official state document, submitted to the governor's office, was notarized and date-stamped.

The Florida Senate, which would have confirmed his position, never delved into Hollingsworth's background, however, because he withdrew his application in the fall of 2011, so it stopped the vetting process, said Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta.

Hollingsworth was more precise on later, separate applications to Scott's office when he put in for the position of chief of staff. On that employment application dated May 21, 2012, he disclosed — correctly — that he received his degree in December 2009.

Sellers indicated that these subsequent acknowledgments show Hollingsworth was not trying to hide anything.

"Reading anything else into that completely ignores the two other state applications, also filled out after 2009, which include information about the 2009 degree," she said.

But all the documents asked essentially the same question: When Hollingsworth attended university.

Yet Hollingsworth gave two separate answers.

Asked why he gave different responses to the same question, Sellers said "I think it was just different forms with different questions."

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