Previous month:
April 2014
Next month:
June 2014

May 2014

Is it the same old Charlie? A look back at Charlie Crist

In 2006, Charlie Crist was a Republican candidate for Florida governor. This story profiled Crist and much of what was said about Crist then, could be said about Crist now. There also are lessons here for incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott's campaign. 

A look back at today's Democratic candidate for governor.

By Brian E. Crowley

Walking briskly across the tarmac toward a waiting helicopter, Harkley Thornton has good news for Charlie Crist.


Come July, Thornton says, he's going to have a fund-raiser for Crist's campaign for governor. Crist looks delighted.


Could you have the fund-raiser in June instead? Crist asks in the eager tones of a car salesman pitching the value of leather seats.

Thornton says he would love to do it in June, but he spends that month vacationing in the Bahamas. Crist looks amazed and tells Thornton how lucky he is.

But can you move the fund-raiser to June? It would really help.

The two men are about to board the helicopter at Palm Beach International Airport with a reporter in tow for an aerial view of the Herbert Hoover Dike. Thornton, looking a touch puzzled, shrugs and tells Crist he will talk to his staff about moving the fund-raiser to June.

If possible, Thornton says, he'll come back from the Bahamas for a couple of days.

Crist slaps his shoulder and tells Thornton that would be great.

Smiling candidate plays hardball

For Florida Republicans, Charlie Crist has been the great persuader.

He has persuaded them to give him a whopping $12.8 million in his quest for the GOP nomination for governor.

And, polling suggests, he has persuaded most Republicans to vote for him Sept. 5.

If he wins the primary, the 50-year-old Florida attorney general would enter the general election better known and better financed than the Democratic nominee, either U.S. Rep. Jim Davis or state Sen. Rod Smith. And, some believe, better able to persuade Florida voters that Crist should be the state's 44th governor.

Even his rivals agree that few politicians have Crist's charisma, determination and focus to win. But some suggest that Crist is all style and no substance. He also has been accused of picking popular issues while avoiding tough ones.

Like most politicians, Crist is not shy about fudging the truth to make political points. And he's not afraid to play hardball against his opponents by exploiting any perceived weakness.

Continue reading "Is it the same old Charlie? A look back at Charlie Crist" »

Charlie Crist, human cloning and the Ten Commandments

Human cloning. The Ten Commandments. Gay marriage. Each were a part of the Florida campaign for governor in 2006.

In the final days of that campaign Charlie Crist taped a message telephone message for voters. Apparently Crist, a Republican running against Democrat Jim Davis, wanted to assure folks in the Panhandle that he would protect them from one day seeing clones of themselves wandering the streets.

He also urged them to vote early.

Here’s the key pasaage from the 2006 phone message from Crist:

“I support a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriages, and I oppose adoption by gay couples. I also support the ban on human cloning, and I want to ensure the right to display the Ten Commandments in public places.” 

At the time the Crist campaign would not comment on the phone message saying: “We won’t discuss specific tactics or details.”

We know Crist now supports gay marriage. We have not heard whether he is still concerned about public displays of the Ten Commandments or human cloning.

Florida Governor Rick Scott brings grandson into campaign

There are no shortage of grandparents living in Florida and these folks tend to vote in big numbers. So perhaps it is no surprise that Governor Rick Scott has enlisted his two-year old grandson, Auguste, in his bid to win a second term.

With some polls suggesting that Scott is tied or even inching ahead of Democratic former governor Charlie Crist, will Auguste be enough to push Scott into a commanding lead? 

You decide:


The speech Charlie Crist didn't give is here

The Council of 100 kicked former Florida Governor Charlie Crist off the podium rescinding his turn to speak today at its Spring General Membership Meeting in Orlando. This was first reported yesterday by Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo. 

From the Herald: The Council of 100 has canceled former Gov. Charlie Crist's scheduled speech on Thursday morning, which he had planned to give just hours after his political opponent and successor, Gov. Rick Scott, appeared.

The reasons for the cancelation are unclear, but sources familiar with the incident say the business group felt nervous about the political ramifications of upsetting the current incumbent...

You should read Caputo's story here.

Crist's campaign has responded by offering a copy of his banned speech. Read it below:

Thank you for being here today. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share my vision for Florida. I’ve enjoyed the dialogue we’ve had over the years, the willingness of this organization to tackle big ideas and those in the membership who have sacrificed to serve their state in a variety of ways. So thank you for all you do, and for allowing this grandson of Greek immigrants to join you today.

I am running for Governor for one simple reason:  Tallahassee is broken, and it is time to put the people back in charge.

Quite simply, our state needs and deserves a Governor who will wake up every day thinking about people like you, who will govern honestly and with the state’s collective best interests in mind, and who will make this economy more fair for hard working business owners and taxpayers.

And we need a Governor who will refocus the state on things that are important to all Floridians: good schools, affordable health care, respect for our environment and dignity for our seniors.

Because that’s who I am, that’s what I believe in and that’s what I’ll do if given the honor of returning to the People’s house.

My record is pretty clear — putting the people first. Going back to the days when I was blessed to serve the good people of the Tampa Bay area in the State Senate, I’ve always tried to do what is in the best interests of the people I served.

Continue reading "The speech Charlie Crist didn't give is here" »

Florida GOP fires back at media

Earlier today Crowley Political Report told readers about a lawsuit challenging the use of blind trusts as part of required financial disclosure statements. Florida Governor Rick Scott has some of his personal holding in a blind trust. See details about the suit here

The lawsuit has ticked off the Florida Republican Party which notes that the media, which is joining the suit, praised the passage of legislation toughing ethics and disclosure laws. That of course does not mean the media supported blind trusts.

Here is the GOP response.




Florida Press Sues On Ethics Law They Crafted And Endorsed One Year Ago

Orlando Sentinel“Several news organizations, including the Associated Press, the Miami Herald, and the Florida Times-Union have signed on to support the challenge, said Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation, an open government group supported by the media.”

STATEMENT FROM RPOF COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR SUSAN HEPWORTH:  “It is the height of hypocrisy for Florida media outlets, which claim to be unbiased, to join in a lawsuit against a law they endorsed one year ago. This lawsuit is a shameful partisan hatchet job."

Continue reading "Florida GOP fires back at media" »

Rick Scott's blind trust targeted in lawsuit

Below is a press release about a lawsuit challenging the use of blind trusts as part of required financial disclosure statements. Florida Governor Rick Scott has some of his personal holding in a blind trust. The lawsuit argues that blind trusts usurp Florida's Sunshine Amendment. 

Note: The First Amendment Foundation supports the lawsuit. Brian E. Crowley is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation.

The release:

Askew’s chief of staff challenges

blind trust financial disclosure

         TALLAHASSEE, FL – Saying he was motivated by protecting the late Gov. Reubin Askew’s legacy, Askew’s former chief of staff filed a lawsuit Wednesday urging the Florida Supreme Court to prohibit using blind trusts in place of full financial disclosure.

             “Governor Askew’s commitment to full and public financial disclosure is a major part of his legacy,” said former chief of staff Jim Apthorp.  “Florida voters supported full disclosure when they overwhelmingly passed Askew’s Sunshine Amendment in 1976.  Blind trusts circumvent the full public disclosure mandated by the Constitution, and we’re asking the Supreme Court to prohibit officials from using them to shield sources and amounts of income from the public.”

            Apthorp’s petition urged the court to prohibit the use of blind trusts in financial disclosure and order Secretary of State Ken Detzner to refuse to accept the qualifying papers of any candidates who attempt to use blind trusts.  It also asked the court to invalidate a 2013 law allowing blind trusts in financial disclosure and displace two Ethics Commission opinions saying that blind trust are an acceptable form of disclosure.

             Officials who have used blind trusts in lieu of full public financial disclosure include Gov. Rick Scott and former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Continue reading "Rick Scott's blind trust targeted in lawsuit" »

Rick Scott campaign responds to Florida Democratic Party

Well that didn't take long. A couple of hours ago Crowley Political Report posted a Florida Democratic Party video questions Republican Gov. Rick Scott's promise about creating jobs.See it here. Now we have the Scott campaign response:

Good afternoon,

 Does the Florida Democratic Party really want to get in a debate about jobs?

 After discussing manufacturing at his Cabinet meeting today, Governor Rick Scott just mentioned this fact in his press gaggle: Of the over 800,000 jobs that Florida lost while Charlie Crist was governor, over 100,000 were manufacturing jobs.

Continue reading "Rick Scott campaign responds to Florida Democratic Party" »

ACLU files suit to stop single sex classrooms in Hillsborough

Well this is one to mull. The ACLU says Hillsborough County is violating the law by allowing all-boy and all-girl classes. The organization wants to stop all schools from doing this because the "practices of separating boys and girls in public schools (is) based on discredited science about boys’ and girls’ purportedly different brains and learning styles."

Here's the ACLU press release:

ACLU Files Federal Complaint Challenging Single-Sex Class Program Rooted in Stereotypes at Florida’s Second Largest School District

CONTACT:  ACLU of Florida Media Office, 
[email protected](786) 363-2737

TAMPA, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights calling for a federal investigation into Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, stating that the district’s single-sex classrooms program violates Title IX. The complaint, with evidence primarily from information discovered by ACLU requests under Florida’s public records law, states that the district’s program is based on stereotypes and discredited notions about how boys and girls learn and develop, and that the District has misled parents about how sex-segregated classrooms were working in the district.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is the second largest school district in Florida and one of the ten largest school districts in the United States. Since 2009, the District has provided sex-segregated classes in at least sixteen schools – including one high school and fifteen elementary schools – as well as operating two exclusively single-sex middle schools. The complaint states that the justification for such a program was based on sex stereotypes and discredited notions about “biological differences in boys and girls that affect learning.”

Continue reading "ACLU files suit to stop single sex classrooms in Hillsborough" »

Marco Rubio wonders if you can spare a dime

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is apparently still not very fond of former Governor Charlie Crist. We hear the two had a falling out.

Now Rubio would like you to give a few bucks to help keep Governor Rick Scott in office - and to crush is former buddy.

From the Republican Party of Florida:

Good Afternoon,

Charlie Crist announced his candidacy for the United States Senate five years ago yesterday. Helping us mark this anniversary is Senator Marco Rubio, who just sent out the following fundraising appeal for the Republican Party of Florida. The message from Senator Rubio is clear: it’s time to re-defeat Charlie Crist. 




Five years ago, Charlie Crist announced that he was running for the U.S. Senate. At the time, I was 20-30 points down in the polls. No one thought I had a chance. But with your support, things changed, and Floridians were exposed to the phony that is Charlie Crist.

 Today, I’m asking you to help the Republican Party of Florida re-defeat Charlie Crist.

 Five years ago, Crist sold himself as a conservative Republican, but he sure didn’t act like one. As Governor, he raised taxes by $2.2 billion, increased state debt by $5.2 billion, and oversaw an economy that lost 832,000 jobs.

 Now, Charlie Crist has switched from Republican to Democrat, with a pit stop as an independent.  He’s running out of parties.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio wonders if you can spare a dime" »

Florida Democratic Party video challenges Rick Scott promise on jobs

During a 2010 debate with Democratic candidate Alex Sink, Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott was asked about his pledge to create 700,000 jobs on top of the expected job growth durinig the first term of the new governor.

Scott's campaign bet heavily on this pledge and he repeated it during the debate: "So our plan is 7 steps to 700,000 jobs and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be."

At that point, some economist were predicting as many as 1 million new jobs would be created as the economy continued recovering. So the moderate said:  "You are going to add 700,000 jobs on top of what normal economic recovery would bring. We're talking about in 7 years about one million, seven hundred thousand jobs."

Scott would repeatedly make that pledge during his campaign. Later, he started to back off but what was more troubling was that he claimed he never made such a statement.

After the campaign when Scott was asked by the Associated Press whether he said he would create 700,000 jobs on top of predicted job growth, Scott said, "No, that's not true."

This Democratic video comes after former Florida Governor Charlie Crist told the program Fusion that he left the Republican Party during the 2010 U.S. Senate race because some members of the GOP were being racist in their opposition to President Barack Obama.

Of course, that is nonsense. Crist left the GOP because his campaign for the Republican nomination was collapsing and running as an independent appeared to be the only way to save his political hide.

What is remarkable about Crist and Scott is they both have the ability to look you in the eye as they each try to recreate political history.

Follow on Twitter - @crowleyreport


Marco Rubio and peeing in the pool

Some things just seem like common sense.  Let’s consider a community pool and pee. The community hires folks to keep the pool pristine. They encourage people to shower before entering. They build nearby restrooms.

Little Billy is having fun in the pool. So much fun, that getting out of the pool and trotting off to the restroom seems a bother.  Billy is not alone.  Others find the convenience of staying in the pool hard to resist.

Many swimmers will think it is disgusting. They will be worried about health issues. They will believe the water has become unsafe. Scientists agree. A recent study found the combination of pee and pool chlorine “causes dangerous chemical reactions.”

Some will believe that a few people peeing in the pool is not a big deal, does no harm and is silly science.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio appears to be one of those folks who thinks peeing in the pool is no big deal. Only he takes it to a much larger scale - the entire planet.

 For thousands of years human beings dumped very little into our skies and waters. Then we had the industrial revolution.  For more than 250 years, humans have been adding countless elements to our skies and waters that were never there before.

We peed in the pool.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio and peeing in the pool" »

Florida GOP using Steve Schale to attack Charlie Crist

Online political videos can be so much fun. This one by the Republican Party of Florida features Charlie Crist advisor Steve Schale speaking in 2009 about how he would love campaigning against Crist.

At the time, Crist was Florida's Republican governor. He had just announced that he would be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Things would not go well.

In this video, Schale says, "I may be one of the few people out there who would actually love the idea of a matchup with Crist."

Schale sounds a bit like Gov. Rick Scott when he notes that during Crist's tenure as governor there is "double digit unemployment in this state, no growth. Education system, hardly any changes at all. . . "

You get the idea. Here is the video:

Rick Scott has a question

 In Florida Governor Rick Scott's latest campaign video, the Republican candidate for reelection asks voters: "Do you want somebody who talks or somebody who acts?"

His Democratic opponent - former Governor Charlie Crist is likely to offer an answer soon.

 The video: 


A photo history of dropping the hanky at sine die

Note: Crowley Political Report first offered this to readers at the close of the 2013 Florida Legislature. With today being the last day of the 2014 session....we revisit the history of hank dropping.

Each year at the close of Florida's 60 day legislative session, the sergeants of each chamber go the Rotunda to drop a handkerchief signaling the end of the session. It doesn't always work out. There have been times when one chamber has left early, sometimes in a huff, which makes a mess of the hanky drop.

The whole thing got started when the Senate President and House Speaker had no other way to signal the end of the session. There was a time when the chambers did not face each other. That got remedied when the chambers were aligned. Then of course with the advent of phones the whole ceremony became simply symbolic. 

In one of these photos one might spot a young Ron Book looking on. And you will also see when one chamber sergeant dropped a tablecloth instead of a handkerchief. Is is also interesting to note that until fairly recently, spectators were not roped off.

Sine die 19551955 - House Sergeant-at-Arms Amos Davis dropping handkerchief.


Continue reading "A photo history of dropping the hanky at sine die" »

Are GOP donors dumping Chris Christie for Jeb Bush

This morning the New York Times is reporting that a number of top donors and fundraisers are saying that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christies bridge problems are forcing them to back away from him and get behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should he decide to run for president in 2016.

From the Times:

In private conversations that are now seeping into public view, some of them are signaling to Mr. Christie’s camp that, should Mr. Bush enter the race, their first loyalty would be to him, not to Mr. Christie, according to interviews with more than two dozen of them.

Many of those who, because of geography and personal ties, were expected to line up behind Mr. Christie say they now feel torn. 


“I have great affection for Christie,” said Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate developer and Bush donor who is among the top Republican fund-raisers. “He’s done an amazing job as a Republican governor in a Democratic state. But I have great loyalty to that family because they brought me into the political arena, and I’ll be supporting Jeb Bush if he decides to run.”

Read more of the NYT story here.