Kottkamp hits the road -- by car
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp headed to the Panhandle on Thursday to publicize the Crist administration's "Cover Florida" affordable health insurance program. But Kottkamp went the old-fashioned way -- by car, not plane -- in the aftermath of a string of stories questioning his extensive use of state-owned aircraft to fly not only to events, but to his Cape Coral home.
Kottkamp planned to hold news conferences at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City and the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Gov. Charlie Crist's spokeswoman, Erin Isaac, said Kottkamp went by car for logistical reasons. One state plane, a King Air, flew CFO Alex Sink to Tampa; the other, a Cessna Citation jet, was being held for Crist to travel to Tampa overnight Thursday, the Department of Management Services said.
A day earlier, Republican Sen. Don Gaetz of Niceville made a joke about "Air Kottkamp" during a legislative hearing on aviation taxes (the hearing was broadcast on the Florida Channel). Asked at the end of a news conference Thursday to defend Kottkamp, Crist said only: "We're just trying to do what's right." Asked if Gaetz's crack is a sign of trouble for Kottkamp, Crist said: "I don't think so. I don't think so."
Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, a friend of Kottkamp's, said the Kottkamp travel stories have illustrated the difficulty of quickly getting from Tallahassee to Southwest Florida. But he added he was disappointed to see such intense media focus on Kottkamp's flights. "It has undermined the importance of our lieutenant governor," Aubuchon said.