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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist's Voting Record Isn't Bulletproof



Democrats have dusted off a 13-year-old vote by then-Sen. Charlie Crist in an effort to undermine the Republican nominee for governor's record of supporting public safety.

Crist was the only legislator from either party to vote no on a 1993 bill that would have provided money for bulletproof vests for police officers with a $3 increase in the fee for criminal background checks on gun buyers. The bill's sponsor was Democrat Ron Silver of North Miami Beach, who was a vocal advocate of stricter gun control laws.

Crist considered the fee a tax and voted no.

Among those voting yes were four senators who are now in Congress: Republicans Ginny Brown-Waite, Mario Diaz-Balart, Mark Foley and Robert Wexler and Toni Jennings, now lieutenant governor.

The Democratic Party's criticism is based on a 1994 St. Petersburg Times article in which his Democratic opponent, Dana Maley, tried to make the bulletproof-vest vote a campaign issue. Times reporter Curtis Krueger's 1994 story quoted Crist as defending the vote by saying: "I cannot see any justification for tax increases because I don't believe we're getting a dollar's worth of services for a dollar's worth of taxes."

Democrats fault Crist for calling the bulletproof-vest funding source a "tax," when Crist has frequently defended his support for other revenue measures by calling them "fees."

The Democrats' criticism comes on a day when Crist is scheduled to campaign with first-responders in Fort Lauderdale along with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:47pm]


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