Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Schechinger
By Flannery Winchester
Scott Schechinger is a financial advisor living in Tampa, Florida. He and his wife have two (nearly three!) children. He has been a CCL volunteer since June 2017 and serves as a liaison to Florida’s two Republican senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.
“I don’t look at the climate issue as a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Scott says. “I just look at it as an issue that is important and needs to be solved. The fact that I’m a Republican isn’t relevant to my feelings on climate change—it’s there, it needs to be fixed, it’s possibly going to get worse before we can fix it, so we probably need to jump on it and get it fixed now.”
We spoke with Scott to learn a bit more about his journey with CCL, how he’s working to get more Florida CCLers involved in Senate liaison work, and the positive movement Republicans are making on this issue.
How did you first get connected with CCL?
I have two children, a four year old and a two year old, and a third child on the way at the end of the month. I had researched climate change just out of curiosity. As I started learning things, one question would lead to another question, which would lead to another question. I’d go and find out answers to everything, and eventually I ran out of questions. Once I did, I said, “I should probably do something about this.” I didn’t want to be someone who would see a problem and not take action. I wanted to be the type of person that would actually get up and do something if they see a problem. So I decided to do something. I stumbled across CCL’s Twitter and then looked up information about the organization, and listened to the initial call. My local chapter leader, Caroline Liberti, looped me in after the call, and I’ve been in ever since.
What do you like about CCL?
CCL has given me so many opportunities to help actually do whatever we can do. Anytime I had an idea, Abhaya Thiele [former Florida state coordinator for CCL] would say, “Great, run with it. Here’s somebody who can help you.” Everyone’s working toward the same goals. It’s great to be a part of an organization where everyone’s so helpful and encouraging.
Please tell me about your main efforts or projects within CCL.
We’ve started a “Senate Action Group” for Florida that we’re hoping will be a model that can be replicated for other large states. That’s my big project.
My experience, especially in the state of Florida, which is such a large state, is that [liaison work] is too much for one person or even two people to do. We really need a whole team, and we work better as a team. We tried to come up with a way to have it not just be one or two people working with the senators. Now, we have a liaison who works with the D.C. office and also co-liaisons all over the state, in all the locations where the senators have regional offices. So for example, Marco Rubio has a D.C. office, but he also has offices in Fort Myers, Tampa, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Miami, and Palm Beach. So really, to create political will and move them up the ladder to embracing fee and dividend, we don’t want just one person talking to Tampa and D.C. We need people working with all of those offices.
We made an announcement about the group at CCL’s 2019 Florida state conference and invited people to sign up to take on some of the open positions in the group or help in some way that we haven’t thought of. We have monthly calls. We’re also setting up a Community page so people can join. Michele Drucker and Sam Adams are two people who have been really doing a lot with this Senate team. Ultimately, the goal is to pass fee and dividend through the Senate. Hopefully it works—we’ll see!
What has it been like to work with these two Republican Senate offices?
We did a letter drop [to the new Sen. Rick Scott’s office]. They were very excited to see constituents and constituent letters and to hear from local folks.
We’ve been interacting with [Sen. Marco Rubio’s] office for a couple of years now, and they’ve been fantastic. Their energy aide has been super accommodating, really pleasant to talk with. They’ve done a good job of being honest and firm about where their positions are on the climate front and also being open to listening to our ideas in a really positive way. I’ve been able to bring in a couple of CCL speakers on conference calls, and they’ve been very receptive. Obviously, I’d prefer that they say, “We’ll be the Republican that cosponsors the Senate bill,” but we’re not quite there yet.
What advice do you have for others who want to lobby their members of Congress?
It’s always a good idea to avoid walking into these meetings with any preconceived notions about what that office is going to say. Walk in with an open mind, use CCL’s method, and don’t prejudge anything based on what you might have heard in the media. Actually get to know them. If you do that, more than likely, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
How do you feel about the recent shift in Republicans’ tone and messaging on climate change?
I’m excited to hear more Republicans coming out officially in support of doing something. It doesn’t really surprise me, though—eventually, problems get to a point where there’s no choice but to do something about it. We’re on that trajectory, regardless, but I’m excited to see it happening quicker. It gives me more hope that we’ll see some action.