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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist: GOP "audit" is a sham; Party bosses owe me an apology



Charlie Crist held a hastily called press conference Saturday afternoon at his St. Petersburg campaign headquarters to denounce the Florida GOP's internal investigative report that suggested party donors spent more than $13,400 on a Disney vacation for Crist, his wife, her two daughters and former GOP chairman Jim Greer and his family.

He released a Disney bill to Carole Crist showing she paid for $4,712.82 in expenses, including more than $2,900 for four nights at the Contemporary Resort, dining expenses, and arcade and gift shop charges. Here's the bill.

Crist called the party audit report "literally a sham."

"My family paid for our personal expenses. I have a copy of a bill to my wife that was paid for by my family as it relates to the Disney trip. Clearly, the Republican party bosses have attacked my family and my family's integrity, but also perpetrated a fraud on the people of Florida with this report."

Crist answered two questions for barely a minute: He said he did not know how Greer was using any party money to pay for anything on the June 2009 trip and could not say how Jim and Lisa Greer managed to spend more than $13,000.

Left unanswered is whether Greer covered any expenses for the Crists during those four days, such as meals and entertainment. For instance, the Disney bill Crist released shows less than $200 for three dining charges in four days and no park tickets.

"We're not going to start nickel and diming this sham of a report,'' Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said when asked about expenses that appear to be missing from Carole Crist's Disney bill. "These records clearly show the Governor and First Lady covered their personal expenses, as they always do. That's more than can be said for Marco Rubio."

Crist also noted that Rubio has not released many of the credit card statements from when he was using a state GOP credit card as incoming state house speaker.

 "If they wanted to do something productive, they should release all of speaker-designate Rubio's records. That would be helpful to the people of Florida before this election," Crist said. "The Republican party bosses owe my family and I an apology for this, but much more importantly an apology to the people of Florida. This campaign has 45 days left to go. I'm not going to continue to discuss their sham report, this cockamamie thing that's pretty ridiculous. I'm going to focus on the issues that matter most to the people of our state - issues like jobs and the economy, education and the environment."

Dan Conston, spokesman for the state party, said no apology is coming:  “Time and again Charlie Crist was present while Jim Greer was blowing through hundreds of thousands in Party money. Crist wants us to believe he didn’t benefit from Greer’s spending. But does he really expect anyone to believe he didn’t even notice it?”

-- Adam Smith, Times Political Editor

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:29pm]


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