(FOX 13) - It is well-known Rick Scott loves wearing his "Navy" hat, but now it is at the center of a war of words in a new political attack ad.
"I see Rick Scott wearing that Navy hat everywhere he goes," the ad says.
It was paid for by the self-described left-leaning Vote Vets PAC.
The ad attacks Scott over his time leading HCA, a private healthcare company that was at the center of the largest health care fraud case in U.S. history.
The U.S. Justice Department said HCA defrauded millions from Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, the military's healthcare program.
“That is dirty politics,” said retired Colonel Evelio Otero.
Tuesday, Frankie's Patriot Barbeque in Clearwater, allies of the governor, attacked the attack ad. Most polls have Scott and Bill Nelson running neck and neck for Nelson's Senate seat.
“It is not about this hat, it’s about where his heart is and he had a heart for veterans,” said Florida Representative Larry Ahearn, a Republican.
Scott served two years in the Navy; he was a radarman aboard the USS Glover.
Still, some critics have called the hat more of a political prop than a sun-stopper.
As for the hits in the new ad: “What happened at the time, it was the company, not Governor Scott… He was the head of the company. He accepted responsibly fully and the company paid back all those monies,” Otero said.
When asked if he was bothered, as a veteran, that the fraud happened in the first place, Otero said, “No, it could happen to any business person in this state."
A response from the Nelson campaign reaffirmed it was not behind the ad. An official said he believed, however, it made the point that the governor has been a “phony.”