PolitiFact: Who is the teacher in Gov. Rick Scott's new ad?

3:06 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
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Teacher Heather Viniar appears with Gov. Rick Scott in a new campaign-style ad.

St. Petersburg, Florida  - More than two years away from election time, and Governor Rick Scott is airing campaign style ads.

This new ad is about how the Governor and the legislature adding one billion dollars to the education budget this year. But, who is the woman in the ad? We teamed up with PolitiFact Florida to find out if she is in fact, a teacher.

It's not where you'd expect to see Governor Rick Scott. At a desk, in a classroom, as a teacher runs through what he's done for education.

"Governor Scott doesn't have the best track record with teachers, especially in 2011. He supported a lot of measures and proposals that frankly teachers and public schools teachers in particular didn't like," says Aaron Sharockman with PolitiFact Florida.

In 2011, Governor Scott proposed a 3% pay cut to help balance the budget. He tried to pass a bill that would prohibit the teacher's union from collecting union dues through automatic paycheck deduction.

He also proposed a bill that tied teachers' pay raises to student test scores.

Yet in this ad, a woman who says she teaches high school American Government praises Governor Scott.

So who is she?

"Her name is Heather Viniar, She's 26 years old. She's a first year teacher in Collier County at  Immokalee High School a title one school, very poor, rural students, lot of very diverse mix of students," says Sharockman.

Viniar and the governor met when he taught two of her classes during a "Let's Get to Work Day" at Immokalee. The Governor also invited her to Tallahassee for his state of the state and mentioned her in his speech. PolitiFact Florida talked with Viniar about being in the ad.

"At the end of the day she said I understand a lot of teachers don't like Rick Scott, for me, this is about this $1 billion more for education and it's about my students and I support this initiative and I don't mind lending my words and my image to get this message out," says Sharockman.

Her support could mean good marks for Governor Scott.

"Anytime he can show, one that he relate to public school teachers or have public school teachers visibly say they support his initiatives, is good news because it resonates with a larger base," says Sharockman.

Check out more PolitiFact Florida fact checks here: politifact.com/florida

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