Uh Oh: Corruption Allegations Threaten to Bring Down Charlie Crist’s Gubernatorial Campaign

Posted: Feb 07, 2014 2:30 PM

As if the guy isn’t already in over his head.

Former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist -- who has since changed his party affiliation twice and is now a Democrat -- is running again for the executive office he once held. He’s made plenty of enemies along the way, of course, but now he’s apparently in deep political trouble.

A lawyer has testified under oath that he was involved in a sort of unseemly quid pro quo agreement with Crist back before he went to prison. Yet despite the witness’ questionable credibility, the testimony does raise all sorts of questions.

From The Washington Times:

Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida now seeking his old seat as a Democrat, has received the worst type of attention at the start of his campaign: a jilted former fundraiser testifying under oath that judicial nominations were up for sale on Mr. Crist’s watch.

The testimony this week by Scott Rothstein, a onetime Crist fundraiser and prominent lawyer convicted of running a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, stunned court observers across Florida and rocked Mr. Crist’s nascent candidacy to oust Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott.

Rothstein did not appear in court for several years after his 2010 guilty plea but emerged as a defense witness in a former legal colleague’s trial. He wasted no time dishing the dirt on Mr. Crist, prompting furious denials from the Democratic candidate and his campaign.

Rothstein testified that as a fundraiser he had a “quid pro quo” relationship in which he was able to encourage Mr. Crist, then the Florida governor, to name judges to the bench in Broward County who would rule favorably for his law firm.

And there’s this:

“There wasn’t supposed to be outside influence through the governor’s office. But there was through me,” he told the courts.

Naturally, Crist is denying everything:

The former governor dismissed the credibility of his onetime confidant and fundraiser as a convicted con man.

Scott Rothstein fooled lots of people and, like many, I regret trusting him. But as for his false accusation, let’s remember, these are the words of a convicted felon and known liar serving a 50-year jail sentence,” Mr. Crist told The Washington Times.

That’s true. But is there any truth to those accusations? Let’s hope not, for his sake. But even if there isn’t, it’s hard to see how these accusations don’t affect the contours of the race.

Let’s not forget that Republicans in Florida especially loathe him -- not only for his Chris Christie-esque embrace of the president in ’09 -- but his tendency to change political parties at the drop of a hat. They see him as an opportunist who craves power above everything else. And they don't want him to win.

So, if these rumors turn out to be true, voters will make darn sure his dream of serving again as Florida's chief executive remains just that -- a dream.