To Europe with Crist: $11,315 per person
Gov. Charlie Crist, fiancee Carole Rome and dozens of business leaders, state officials and others leave Miami for London Saturday on a 10-day mission to the U.K., France, Spain and Russia. The trip includes a visit to the Farnborough Air Show, meetings with Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, a tour of a French plant that processes nuclear waste and visit to the "other" St. Petersburg -- in Russia.
In all, 94 people are going on Crist's third overseas trip. The state pays travel expenses for state officials including Crist's aides, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Crist's official state photographer, while others, including Rome, pay their own way.
It ain't cheap, either. Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership paying the governor's way with public and private money, said Crist's travel costs total $23,269 (agency spokesman Stuart Doyle confirmed figures first reported by The Miami Herald). Crist also is staying in hotel suites, with work areas, that cost up to $1,800 nightly, and his round-trip American Airlines airplane ticket was donated by Express Travel, a Coral Gables agency that coordinated arrangements.
The Buzz asked Enterprise Florida for a breakdown of the expenditure cost, which averages out to nearly $1,000 a day, or $11,315 per person for the trip. The Florida Democratic Party blasted Crist for taking a trip when so many Floridians are hurting economically. Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said: "I don't see how pictures of Crist and his fiancee visiting Buckingham Palace or standing in front of the Eiffel Tower are going to help sell Florida tourism. Guess we'll have to wait for the proofs."