Charlie Crist puts his wife on the payroll
Carole Crist has been a key political adviser to Charlie Crist since their marriage in 2008 when he was still a Republican star nationally and Florida's governor. Now that Crist is a newly elected Democratic congressman representing south Pinellas County, Mrs. Crist's role seems to becoming more official: She is now on his campaign's payroll.
Campaign reports show the wealthy former New Yorker, 47, received two payroll payments in December totalling $6,500, and another $417 payment.
"She's a great woman, my best friend, smart, loyal and driven and plays an integral part in this campaign," said Rep. Crist, describing his wife as the "campaign director" who also plays a big role in raising money.
Anti-nepotism rules bar members of the U.S. House from hiring family members for official staff positions, nothing prevents them from from using political committees to hire relatives.
In 2013, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found at least 75 members of congress paying family members to work on their campaigns, and 10Weather WTSP reported those in the Tampa Bay area included Republican U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Vern Buchanan of Sarasota.
Mrs. Crist, a millionaire who used to help run her family's New York-based wholesale costume business, has been closely involved in running her husband's campaigns for Senate, governor, and congress since 2010 but on an unpaid basis.
In 2015, she opened Goddessey Boutique, a resort wear shop off Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, but it closed last year. In
The Crists have been scaling back on their real estate holdings in recent months. In June, she sold for $825,000 a 2,200 square foot condo in Fort Lauderdale Beach she bought less than two years earlier for $879,000. On Jan. 12, she and Charlie Crist sold for $1.03 million a St. Pete Beach house they bought together in July 2015 for $906,250.
Crist unseated Republican Rep. David Jolly in November, 51.9 percentn to 48.1 percent, but Jolly has signalled he is seriously considering running against Crist again.