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Elections in Florida

July 9, 2004. Documents detail more voting machine flaws. "A host of flaws never before publicized are not expected to be fixed."

FLORIDA VOTERS/FLORIDA VOTERS Public backs right to die, poll says. The intervention by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature into the Terri Schiavo case is met with overwhelming voter disapproval. Miami Herald

Miami Herald Coverage: Florida's Children Under Jeb Bush

Maker of drug admits hiding its risks
while The maker of a billion-dollar antipsychotic medication has acknowledged misleading doctors and other healthcare providers about the safety of its product, minimizing potentially deadly side effects... In 2001, The Herald published a series of stories about the common use of Risperdal among children in state care. Child-welfare advocates said the drug routinely was being used by foster care providers as a ''chemical restraint'' on children whose unruly behavior was a frustration to caretakers.
... who are taking these medications.'' Friday, DCF officials told The Herald they ...

Saturday, July 24, 2004 ( July 9, 2004. Documents detail more voting machine flaws. Miami Herald "A host of flaws never before publicized are not expected to be fixed."

FLORIDA VOTERS/FLORIDA VOTERS Public backs right to die, poll says. The intervention by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature into the Terri Schiavo case is met with overwhelming voter disapprovalMiami Herald

Public backs right to die, poll says
The intervention by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature into the Terri Schiavo case is met with overwhelming voter disapproval.
By nearly three to one, registered voters across religious, party and gender lines told pollsters they disagree with the intervention. While Bush and GOP legislators acted at the request of Terri Schiavo's parents to keep their daughter alive by overruling the wishes of her husband and a court, an overwhelming number of the poll's respondents believe that a spouse should determine whether an incapacitated person without a living will should be taken off life support.

''The governor is clearly in the wrong in terms of public opinion,'' said Democratic pollster Rob Schroth, who conducted the poll for The Herald and the St. Petersburg Times with a Republican pollster, Kellyanne Conway.

The responses were strong.
/Miami Herald

As his own child is caught in web of drugs and as child abuse continues in Florida, Jeb Bush remains moored from reality.

Crack that whip, boy. Child-Agency Nominee, a Christian Fundamentalist, Backed 'Rod' Discipline. "The true radical, right wing Jeb Bush ... has taken over the body of the Jeb Bush he sold us in 1998.'' Internal link. Link to New York Times.

Services for children declined under Jeb Bush's DCF appointee!

Jeb Bush appoints DCF chief with extreme views — thinks 'Biblical' spanking that causes ''bruises or welts'' should not be considered child abuse. Also, more from New York Times.

17 August 2002. New head of Florida's child services, Jerry Regier, infused his department's public policy with strongly conservative religious beliefs.

Also, 12 April 2001. Regier Skirts Competitive Bidding Laws, Manipulates Process to Favor Political Consultant. 1.2 Million.

Also, 29 March 2001. Marriage Consultant Paid $716,000 by Regier-led Agencies. "While we were struggling to find money for nursing home inspectors, Jerry Regier was funneling health department money to a public relations firm in Oklahoma."

A sigh of relief, but not a fix in sight — Bush failed to deliver on his promise. Under Fire, Florida Chief of Child Welfare Resigns. New York Times

DCF chief Kearney finally quits 13 Aug. Jeb Bush had been defending Kearney as child advocates and lawmakers called for her to be fired and continued to praise her even after accepting the resignation. Also from NBC News.

DCF's Missing Children - A gallery of ineptitude

Newpaper easily finds missing kids that elude Jeb Bush's DCF agency! 11 Aug.02 "The inability to find missing children is only the latest in a string of embarrassments for DCF and the governor. Last month in Central Florida, a caseworker investigating an abuse complaint falsified records to show she visited 2-year-old Alfredo Montes the day he was beaten to death by a baby sitter, police said. And in Coral Gables, a DCF worker was found drunk in her car with a 7-month-old foster child crying in the back seat."

13 turbulent years, and a murder unsolved. "Yet another child remains an unexplained casualty of Florida's foster care system." 10 August 2002

Florida Agency for Children Is Shaken Anew by an Arrest. 27 July. New York Times. Also, more from Miami Herald.

Child-Agency Troubles Rise for Gov. Bush. 18 July. Miami. As children die, Mr. Bush's office characterizes the contentious child-welfare debate as simply political. New York Times.

More from Florida. In early May, Bush told reporters he'd act if more abuse came to light. The same leadership and non-action continues. 13 July 2002 CNN Boy's death another scandal for Florida child welfare agency. CNN reports another severe blow for DCF which has been reeling since it revealed earlier this year it lost track of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, a child under its supervision. Rilya has not yet been found.

Daughter of Gov. Bush Is Sent to Jail in a Drug Case. 18 July 2002. New York Times

Earlier this year, Bush slashed funding for drug abusers. In a state where nearly a third of all crimes are drug-related, the Department of Corrections approved a budget cut that will eliminate the bulk of drug treatment among inmates and greatly reduce the state's program to help drug addicts outside the prison system.(Full Story below.)

Miami 5-Year-Old Missing for Year Before Fact Noted. The Rilya Wilson case thrusts Jeb Bush's Florida into national headlines.

23 June 2002. Just as President Bush denies a role in Enron, little brother Jeb Bush says grand jury is not needed to investigate missing children even as ABC's 20/20 reported another horrid case in which "legal counsel for the DCF, on behalf of [DCF head] Kearney, not only challenged the material facts of the case, but even filed a counter-claim against the children's representative."

MIAMI- Gov. Jeb Bush has refused a request to create a statewide grand jury to investigate the 1,237 children under state care who can't be located.

23 June 2002. Girls 11-15 under DCF care seen partying with men at hotel. WEST PALM BEACH · Six girls in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, left alone at night in a hotel for three weeks, were seen partying with men who possibly were sleeping in the girls' rooms, police said. More media.

Election reform in Florida isn't on Bush's agenda.

Bush brothers have crucial lapses. "We're talking about civilians who shouldn't be dead, and children who shouldn't be missing. No leader deserves a courtesy pass on such matters."

Also read, rigged panel.

Also read, DCF to pay $5 million in abuse case and current news

Child deaths by abuse, neglect climb— Report says Florida system still failing

Also read water deal investigates deal with Jeb Bush's former partner and more!

And from the St.Pete Times, there is more. Daughter of Gov. Bush Is Sent to Jail in a Drug Case.

Dept of Children's Services in Florida

8 Aug., 04 — Arguably the most important appointment of the governor's [Jeb Bush's] tenure -- choosing the person to lead Florida's scandalized child-welfare agency -- has proven to be one of the worst decisions that Bush has ever made.

A scalding report by the governor's chief inspector general has revealed that high-ranking DCF officials handed out fat and dubious contracts to pals and political cronies, and accepted gifts, favors and lodging from outside contractors. Read Carl Hiaasen

JEB BUSH: NEW DCF Chief Emrbroiled in Kick-backs, favors.   It wasn't all that difficult for Jerry Regier to explain his agency's ethical lapses to the governor. Everything's fine and dandy now with the guv. Jerry gets to keep his job despite a report from Gov. Bush's own inspector general wildly critical of sweetheart contracts doled out by the Department of Children & Families

21 July 2004 Florida DCF Secretary Jerry Regier, appointed by Jeb Bush, is at the center of a blistering state report on agency ethics, had been accused of 'circumventing' state open-bidding laws at a post in Oklahoma. More

Fri., Jul. 09, 2004— State investigators seize Jeb Bush appointed DCF chief's records. Work computer files of Department of Children & Families Secretary Jerry Regier taken in an investigation of contract award procedures. Reiger, a fundamentalist Christian says he dunno. Bush also claims ignorance. Miami Herald.

A living will to disinherit politiciansMiami Herald
 Now a state senator has introduced a bill that would require Floridians to leave written instructions if they don't want to be artificially kept alive by feeding tubes or other medical devices. ... hastily passed a law in October giving Gov. Jeb Bush the power to intervene...Living in Florida, however, I am acutely aware that the legislative and executive branches of state government are fond of meddling in family matters, and have little concern for the privacy and dignity of individuals. Carl Hiaasen. Sunday, December 7, 2003 (The Miami Herald)

Read about New Child Welfare Head in Florida The latest controversy at the Florida Department of Children and Families, involves a 1989 religious essay which carries the name of Mr. Bush's appointee, Jerry Regier, on its cover. The essay, entitled "The Christian World View of The Family," supports spanking of children that may cause "temporary and superficial bruises and welts" and denounces abortion, parenting by gays and women in the work force.

Also, even as Florida has spent $32 million to overhaul its voting system, some experts say the state may serve as a model of what not to do. New York Times.

In Jeb Bush's Florida, Hot Wired Penis ordered by court as father continues his fight to regain daughter. Also see 20 Sept 2002.

In Florida, an innocent 3-year-old child was incarcerated for nearly four years as authorities falsely accused her father of sexually abusing the toddler, then awarded custody to her mother, a known felon and child abuser. During the nearly 4 years spent in state facilities, away from her father who had raised her from birth, Ashleigh was denied visits from her dad, was molested and refused a planned a birthday party!

Paul Scott Abbott with his daughter, Ashleigh, shortly before the state seized her in 1998.

Regarding Florida's DCF debacle, also refer to FRONTLINE , a recent PBS documentary, on abuse at child care centers. It focused on how a child psychologist in South Florida coerced the children into giving dubious answers, how she prompted the children to say what they thought the interviewers wanted to hear.

Ashleigh's case began years before years before Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, and his administration, including Florida DCF Secretary Kearney, lost track of little Rilya Wilson, yet both cases reveal gross neglect and ineptitude. In a "Blue Ribbon" investigation, Jeb Bush and cohort, Kathleen Kearney, OK'd a rigged panel to look at wrong doings. While Ashleigh's childhood was stolen and her life is forever tarnished, Rilya's whereabouts remain unknown.

Before being appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in December 1998 to the Cabinet post of Florida's Secretary of the Department of Children & Families, Kathleen Kearney was a Broward County dependency court judge criticized for seizing children from good homes without just cause. It was she who ordered Ashleigh's imprisonment.

Kearney is once again in the public eye as the Rilya Wilson case comes to light. Gov. Bush continues to stand behind her even as the national media comes crashing down. Read from the New York Times, Miami 5-Year-Old Missing for Year Before Fact Noted. State and local officials look for a 5-year-old girl who was supposed to be in state custody but who no one noticed until last week had been missing for more than a year. Also read from A.P., Panel looks into Missing Girl Case. In December of 2001, yet another major report blasted Florida's DCF.

Florida's Department of Children and Families remain under Jeb Bush's Republican watch. Read the Rilya series series published in the Miami Herald.


10 August 2002: Cynteria Phillips spent nine years in the state's protective custody, in and out of foster homes. Her short, turbulent life was punctuated by sexual abuse. At 13, she was murdered.

11 August 2002 -Newpaper easily finds missing kids that elude Jeb Bush's DCF agency! 11 August 2002. Politicians and child advocates called on the governor and state officials to immediately attempt to find more than 500 children who are missing from Florida's child welfare system.

In a story published Sunday, the Sun-Sentinel detailed how reporters, in a matter of weeks, found nine of 24 South Florida children that the Department of Children & Families had been unable to locate for as long as eight years.

"I think the governor should ask the [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] to take every step to finally determine where these children are," said Janet Reno, a Democratic candidate for governor. "The state clearly is not doing enough."

Spokesmen for Gov. Jeb Bush and DCF could not be reached for comment Sunday, despite several messages.

The newspaper had no access to the children's DCF case files or other tools available to law enforcement officials, but found the children using public records and interviewing relatives. Some of them were located easily -- two in under three hours.

The inability to find missing children is only the latest in a string of embarrassments for DCF and the governor. Last month in Central Florida, a caseworker investigating an abuse complaint falsified records to show she visited 2-year-old Alfredo Montes the day he was beaten to death by a baby sitter, police said. And in Coral Gables, a DCF worker was found drunk in her car with a 7-month-old foster child crying in the back seat.

FINALLY! Florida child welfare head quits
Resignation comes after more cases of untracked children

By Kerry Sanders, NBC NEWS

13 Aug. 2002 — First, it was a 5-year-old girl who disappeared and nobody noticed her missing for more than a year. Now, the head of Florida’s child welfare agency is out, after the latest scandal in which a newspaper was able to do in a matter of days what an entire agency couldn’t seem to do in too many cases. (More)..

18 Aug. 2002 — But Jeb Bush's newly appointed DCF chief saw services for children worsen in state during his watch. From 1997, when Regier was named Oklahoma's HHS secretary, until 1999, the most recent date for which information is available, Oklahoma's state ranking declined from 38th to 40th. At the beginning of the 1990s, Oklahoma was ranked as high as 37.
Posted on Fri, Aug. 23, 2002

23 August — Bush: DCF chief's critics use `double standard'
Gov. Jeb Bush charged Friday that critics of his new state child welfare chief -- a fundamentalist Christian who advocates corporal punishment -- are displaying ''bigotry'' and a ''double standard'' against people of faith.

Jerry Regier, the new chief of the Department of Children & Families, has come under fire for conservative writings from the late 1980s that carry his name. The articles encouraged corporal punishment for children, asserted that mothers should not work outside the home and said wives should be submissive to their husbands.

Though Regier has denied writing one of two articles that created the controversy, he has acknowledged writing the other, which expressed similar views. Regier has said his beliefs were based on the Bible, and to varying degrees remain the same.

27 August 2002. The state Department of Children & Families routinely took months -- and in some cases even years -- to notify police that children under its care were missing, according to records released Monday. Miami Herald

28 August 2002 — DCF worker resigns after arrest
A Department of Children & Families employee arrested Monday night on charges of impersonating a police officer resigned from his job Tuesday, shortly after posting bond. Miami Herald

Beccause Ashleigh articles are no longer on-line, many have been reproduced without alteration to text and are posted within this site. They are retrieved by clicking on links within the text.

More Florida news: TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Another sleeping Bush? Months into the Enron scandal, many mysteries remain unsolved. Outside of those slowly unraveling in Houston, one of the biggest concerns the Florida state pension fund, which lost $328 million - among the largest losses suffered by any Enron shareholder. The New York Times.

Among the Bush Brothers, the ties never end. GW Bush Joined Unit of Enron in '86 Venture to Seek Oil. The New York Times. Now in 2002 Enron's role on power costs is known. How Enron Got California to Buy Power It Didn't Need and how President Bush ignored the facts.

15 May 2001. Five state child-welfare workers told to hire lawyers in grand jury probe. The investigation is focusing on foster care conditions in Broward. Click for media report.

3 May 2001. A team of lawyers who settled a federal lawsuit against the Department of Children & Families last year say their evidence indicates the system has deteriorated. In a November 1998 report, the grand jury found Broward's foster children in danger and the problems "so pervasive that they threaten to collapse the entire system." Children were being sexually assaulted by other children in crowded foster homes. Grand jury considers abuse charges against Broward's foster care system.

21 April 2001. Nearly two years after leaving his job as chief of the Department of Children and Families' Broward outpost, Robert Pappas is blasting his former boss, calling Kathleen Kearney's administration ``destructive and potentially a political time bomb.'' Please note that Pappas lost his job heading Broward DCF immediately after July 1999 phone argument with Kearney in which he insisted that Ashleigh should be returned home to her dad and Kearney informed him that the Bushes did not want that to happen. Read article from Miami Herald

Despite a sordid record, Jeb Bush claims he is happy with work on foster care, adoption even as February 2001 landmark study, THE LENGTHENING SHADOW, by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, cites how Florida’s continuing foster care panic endangers children

Miami 5-Year-Old Missing for Year Before Fact Noted
State and local officials are looking for a 5-year-old girl who was supposed to be in state custody but who no one noticed until last week had been missing for more than a year. New York Times. The girl, Rilya Wilson, chubby and bright-eyed, was supposed to be under monthly supervision by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Governor sharpens tone in case of missing girl. TALLAHASSEE - May 4, 200. As criticism intensifies over his administration's handling of the Rilya Wilson case, Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday made his most pointed comments yet regarding possible repercussions for the state's child welfare agency. Bush refused to elaborate on what type of action he might take but said he continued to have confidence in Kearney, the former Broward circuit judge he named in 1999 with great hopes of reforming the troubled agency. Miami Herald

Rilya haunts Bush's promise, Miami Herald.

Agency waited six days before reporting girl missing child. Miami Herald.

Help That May Haunt Jeb Bush From the Washington Post Election Mobilized Fla. Democrats

Sunshine Network's popular show has abrupt ending in politics
TALLAHASSEE -- For six years, Robert Kerrigan, a Pensacola trial lawyer, spent freely of his money to produce and star on a statewide consumer call-in show, Law Talk Live, on the Sunshine cable network. By accounts, it was very popular. But then Kerrigan began attacking Gov. Jeb Bush, the Legislature and other Republican targets. He's no longer on the network, and the choice wasn't his.

Among the Bush Brothers, the ties never end. GW Bush Joined Unit of Enron in '86 Venture to Seek Oil. The New York Times. Now in 2002 Enron's role on power costs is known. How Enron Got California to Buy Power It Didn't Need and how President Bush ignored the facts.

White House Stand on Florida Manatee Is Faulted. Private groups contended that federal protections had been delayed to avoid inflaming an election-year issue for Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida that has divided boaters and conservationists: how to prevent collisions that kill dozens of manatees a year. New York Times

Published Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002

Florida slashing care for addicts

In a state where nearly a third of all crimes are drug-related, the Department of Corrections has approved a budget cut that will eliminate the bulk of drug treatment among inmates and greatly reduce the state's program to help drug addicts outside the prison system.

The cuts, expected to save Florida taxpayers $13 million this fiscal year, will eliminate in-house drug treatment programs at all but four of Florida's 55 "major'' prisons -- those that house inmates sentenced to more than a year behind bars, said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the Corrections Department in Tallahassee. The four prisons that will continue to carry out treatment all have federal matching grants that partially fund the programs.

The cuts also will reduce by 34 percent the number of beds available to treat drug addicts at 20 residential treatment programs throughout the state.

Nearly one in four prisoners in Florida are treated for substance abuse. After the cuts, only informal efforts such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous will remain in 51 of the state's major prisons.

"Make no mistake: When we get done crunching the numbers, the bottom line will be that human lives will be lost or go unrepaired, and misery will be spread from generation to generation,'' said Howard Finkelstein, Broward County's chief assistant public defender, who battled drug addiction himself 14 years ago.

"These cuts to substance-abuse programs, especially those inside prison, probably will affect some inmates,'' Ivey added.

The cuts will affect eight drug treatment programs each in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Six residential programs in South Florida -- three each in Miami-Dade and Broward -- will lose a total of 94 beds in the belt-tightening; in most programs, beds remain full year-round. The agencies also will be paid 10 percent less for services than their contracts allowed.

An additional nine outpatient programs -- five in Miami-Dade and four in Broward -- will lose funds, and a treatment center at Broward County's Hollywood Work Release Center, where inmates are allowed to hold outside jobs, will see cuts.

Before the cuts, $41 million of the Department of Corrections' $1.3 billion annual budget was spent on treating drug and alcohol addiction problems; $11.3 million went to treatment programs in the state prisons. The cuts will trim $3.3 million from residential programs, $2.4 million from outpatient programs and $7.5 million from in-prison programs.

The number of beds available in community-based drug treatment centers statewide will drop from 1,900 to 1,250, Ivey said.


Substance abuse is an intractable problem among the prison population. For fiscal year 2000-01, for example, 7,300 of the 25,731 men and women who entered the prison system had an alcohol or drug problem, corrections records show.

For each of the last 10 years, more inmates have been admitted for drug offenses than any other charge. Last year, nearly 29 percent of those who entered Florida prisons had been convicted of drug offenses.

In South Florida and other urban areas, drug courts and community diversion programs offer judges the alternative of crafting a treatment program rather than simply incarcerating generally nonviolent offenders.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeffrey Rosinek presides over the county's Drug Court, which in 1989 became the first such project in the country.

He said the number of inmates with a drug problem -- though not necessarily a drug charge -- is actually far higher than one in three. Seventy percent of Florida inmates are arrested for offenses related to their drug addiction, such as burglary or theft, he said.


Prison authorities are so concerned about the potential effects of the budget cuts that they asked Gov. Jeb Bush to restore $5 million of the $7.5 million for next year's budget, Ivey said. The cuts were ordered in mid-January as part of an effort to trim $1 billion from the current budget. They take effect Nov. 1.

For fiscal 2000-01, 17,000 of the prison system's total population of 72,000 inmates were participating in drug treatment programs.

An additional 32,640 offenders received treatment in either residential or outpatient community programs outside prison, according to the Corrections Department's recently released annual report.

The programs appear to work. Of offenders who successfully completed a substance abuse program outside the prison system in fiscal 1998-99, 77.5 percent remained out of prison after two years. Of the offenders who completed drug treatment programs in locked facilities, 70.5 percent stayed out of prison, the annual report says.

In Miami-Dade Drug Court, the success rate has been even more impressive, Judge Rosinek said. Among successful graduates of the program, only 6 percent return to court on additional charges.

The court has been so successful that all but one of the county's 20 criminal court judges have agreed to embrace an expanded effort in which drug defendants return to court every month to be monitored by their presiding judge. The budget cuts could jeopardize both the monitoring and the drug court's effectiveness, Rosinek said.


"How foolish, how absolutely foolish,'' Rosinek said. "Most of these people are coming back to the community; they're coming back home. They'll be in my neighborhood; they'll be in your neighborhood.

The question is: How are they coming home? Will they be coming back in worse shape than they left? . . . Will they still be addicted?''

From her perch on the bench of Broward County's Mental Health Court, County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren has seen treatment efforts turn lives around. She doesn't need statistics to be convinced.

"As a judge who relies on community-based resources very, very heavily, I can tell you the elimination of these mental health and drug treatment beds will be disastrous,'' Lerner-Wren said.


Kenyatta Myles, a 31-year-old Lauderhill man getting treatment at the House of Hope in Fort Lauderdale, said the program is enabling him to turn his life around after many years of drug addiction.

Myles was arrested smoking crack cocaine in a parking lot at 8 a.m. Instead of heading to prison, he was ordered to live at House of Hope and complete a substance abuse program. Without that opportunity, Myles said, he would be ``sitting in jail, playing cards and watching TV.''

"So far, this is helping me rebuild my life, and my relationship with my son,'' said Myles, a cosmetologist. "My wife started talking to me. My family is coming back into my life. I had burned a lot of bridges. And I'm looking at myself, too, a lot of the stuff I had been doing wrong that I needed to change.''

"I'm not a bad person,'' said Myles, who has been arrested twice, for drug possession and petty theft. "I don't believe I'd kill or shoot anybody. Jail is not for people who have a sickness.''

© 2002 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Published Wednesday, Jan 30, 2002
local/florida/ digdocs/111865.htm

Governor's daughter faces prescription fraud charge

Noelle's problem is a `private matter,' Bush says.


TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush's 24-year-old daughter was arrested early Tuesday after a late-night visit to a drive-through pharmacy at which authorities said she tried to illegally obtain the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Noelle L. Bush, the middle of Bush's three children, was held in the Leon County Jail for about four hours after a pharmacist at a 24-hour Walgreens store alerted police that she was using a suspicious prescription.

"This is a private matter,'' the governor told reporters Tuesday following a previously scheduled press conference on Florida's nursing shortage. ``It's really hard for our family. . . . I would just urge you to allow it to be as private a matter as possible.''

Bush and his wife, Columba, also issued a statement earlier in the day that stated: ``This is a very serious problem. Unfortunately, substance abuse is an issue confronting many families across our nation.''


It's also an issue facing decision-makers in Tallahassee, where the Bush
administration has been criticized for proposed budget cuts to drug treatment programs in the community and in prisons.

The arrest comes as Jeb Bush campaigns for reelection this year; he has made drug treatment and prevention major themes of his first term.

Bush previously has acknowledged that one of his children had dealt with a substance abuse problem, but he never revealed which one. And Columba Bush has worked on behalf of a Florida group that educates families about drug abuse.

Sources say Noelle Bush has been in and out of rehabilitation programs for years. She has entered an Atlanta rehab center at least once since her father became governor.

A check of Florida public records showed that Noelle Bush has had several traffic citations but no criminal history in this state.

According to a detailed report compiled by the Tallahassee Police Department, a woman claiming to be a ``Dr. Scidmore'' left a voice-mail message about 11:15 p.m. Monday at the Walgreens for a Xanax prescription. The caller failed to say how many pills were prescribed.

Twenty minutes later, Noelle Bush called the pharmacist on duty, Carlos Zimmerman, and asked him if the prescription had been called in. He checked the voice mail, and heard the prescription for Xanax.

"The prescription sounded suspicious and they didn't leave a quantity, so I saved it on the voice mail,'' Zimmerman told police.

Fifteen minutes later, Noelle Bush called back looking for the prescription and he told her there had been no quantity given.

Ten minutes after that, the woman claiming to be Scidmore called back with the quantity.


Zimmerman told police he then called the doctor's answering service, and Dr. Dale Wickstrom called back telling him that Scidmore ``is moving and isn't really practicing now, and [Wickstrom] said it was a fake and to bust her,'' according to Zimmerman's statement to police.

Minutes later, Noelle Bush called a third time asking about the prescription, and Zimmerman told her it would be ready in 40 minutes. When she arrived at the drive-through in her white Volkswagen at about 1 a.m., Zimmerman called the police.

Police listened to the voice-mail messages left at the pharmacy, and, one officer said, ``My observation is that the voice on the voice mail and the voice of Ms. Bush appear identical.''


Bush admitted that the phone number left on the pharmacy voice mail was a second line into her Tallahassee apartment. But she denied presenting herself as Scidmore.

Bush was handcuffed and searched. She appeared "very shaky'' during an interview, according to the account by a Tallahassee police officer, but ``calmed considerably after being arrested.''

She told police that Walgreens had called her a week earlier to tell her that a prescription was ready to be picked up. She said she did not know who Dr. Scidmore was, and she told police that none of her friends was involved.

Bush was released from jail without having to post bail. Her arraignment in scheduled for Thursday.

Neither of the two doctors, Noel Scidmore and Wickstrom, of North Florida Radiation Oncology Associates, could be reached Tuesday.

The early-morning arrest happened just hours before Noelle Bush was scheduled to report for a new job as an administrative assistant at a Tallahassee software firm.

Tom Lynch, owner and president of the 100-employee Infinity Software Development, said the firm called Bush's apartment when she didn't show up. He realized why after learning of her arrest from a reporter.

Bush was to have worked in the human resources department, a job Lynch had interviewed her for after Bush submitted her résumé about a month ago. He said he won't decide whether to rescind the job offer until later.

``I thought she was very nice and very engaging,'' Lynch said. ``But I want to be respectful of her privacy. I don't know the facts. I want to hear from her.''

Noelle Bush has lived in Tallahassee since her father became governor in 1999.

She earned an associate's degree from Tallahassee Community College, after briefly attending community colleges in Miami and Indian River County. She attended two semesters at Florida State University until December.


Prescription fraud is a third-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, but such sentences are rarely imposed on first offenders. Most likely, a first offender convicted of prescription fraud would serve probation, or, ``at worst, county jail time'' of no more than a year, said Howard Finkelstein, Broward County's chief assistant public defender.

The arrest is unlikely to become a campaign issue because even his opponents believe it is a family matter. But one candidate for governor, House Democratic Leader Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, expressed hope that this situation might alter Bush's position on the cuts to rehabilitation programs.

"This is a private and personal matter that I hope will have a positive effect on the governor's position,'' Frankel said.

Herald staff writers Joni James, Carol Marbin Miller, Tere Figueras and Tina Cummings contributed to this report.

© 2002 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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