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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Photo: Crist had Rothstein's cake and ate it, too

6

November

Charlie's Big Birthday Cake
Rich Text Area.

None of the powerful people had ever seen a cake quite like it.

It wasn’t the double layers of chocolate that had everyone abuzz, nor was there anything particularly special about the white chocolate placards that read: “Happy Birthday, Gov. Charlie Crist. From Scott and Kimberly Rothstein.”

Rather, the fact that Rothstein paid $52,000 just to have his name there surprised some of the lobbyists and honchos with the biggest special interests in Florida: Florida Crystals, The GEO Group, Mardi Gras Race Track and Casino, Disney, TECO, Floride Power & Light, etc.** They each paid a mere $5,200 each to sponsor just one of the candles on that beautiful July 24th day in 2008 at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach. Their donation is denoted in the little silver flags that stand by the candles of the special-interest layer cake.

Fresh off a trip to Europe with his fiancée, Crist was thanking the 40 or so folks in the Magnolia Room when a voice disturbed him.

It was Rothstein. He was talking so loudly while the governor was talking that Crist finally stopped and looked up from the microphone.

“Scott, if you want the mic, it’ll cost you $100,000,” Crist said in jest and remonstrance, according to three people in the room.

Rothstein shut his mouth and shut his wallet – something he rarely did. Still, Rothstein’s contribution stood out. So did the fact that he and Crist blew out the candles together. Rothstein posted that photo on the wall of his office.

"He spent money like it wasn’t his,” said one person who was there. “Now we know why.”

Indeed, Rothstein’s now at the center of an alleged Ponzi scheme in which he bilked investors for what some say could be up to $1 billion. Though many in the legal community had suspected Rothstein was up to something (he couldn't have that much disposable cash legally, they said), politicians and political parties didn't ask many questions. Big checks at the very least buy gratitude and a see-no-evil attitude in politics. Rothstein's $52,000 check from his law firm was the biggest single contribution for the Republican Party of Florida fundraiser, which raised about $1 million for the party.

** Here's the list of $5,200 donors who correspond to the fundraiser/cake:

THE GEO GROUP, INC.
DEGEORGE LAWRENCE
FLORIDA WHOLESALE SPIRITS CCE
LINTON TIBBETTS
JAMES PALMER
JDR COMPANIES, INC.
PREFERRED CARE PARTNERS, INC.
FLORIDA RESTAURANT ASSOC. PAC,
GUNSTER YOAKLEY
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, INC.
MICCOSUKEE TRIBE
FLORIDA CARPENTERS REGIONAL CC
DISNEY WORLDWIDE SERVICES, INC
TECO ENERGY, INC.
CC1 COMPANIES, INC.
FLORIDA CRYSTALS CORPORATION
MANUEL KADRE, P. A.
HOWARD GRUVERMAN
GEORGE LEVIN (a possible Ponzi victim of Rothstein's)
INTERNATIONAL OIL TRADING FZCO (The company of Harry Sargeant, likely listed as "H.S." in a separate federal indictment concerning illegal campaign contributions).
CENTENE MANAGEMENT COMPANY, LL
JONATHAN KISLAK
MOSAIC FERTILIZER LLC
OKOLOKO ONAJITE
THE HAGGARD LAW FIRM, PA
MURRAY GOODMAN

Here are the names we could read on the candles:

Don Yaeger
Emery and Margaret Wood
Armando Olivera
Southern Strategy Group
Bob Storm
Blake Casper
John Colon
Mark Kaplan
Murray Goodman
George and Susan Levin
Florida Carpenters
Mary Ann Portell
Dan Adkins
Disney
Sunshine State Health Plan
Fr* Karls* (???)
Joseph Caruncho (?)
Republica National Distributing Company
The Gee Group
Tom Grady
Peter S. Rummell (??)
Sh* Page
Lawrence De George
Cary and Elizabeth Hyden
Mr. and Mrs. William S. Williams
Dr. Charles and Nancy Crist
Julio and Marcia Martino (not sure on last letter)
Manny Kadre
Byron and Catherine Kennedy
Jay and Linda *rmer
Jim and Lisa Greer
Carole Rome
Howard Gruverm*
Harry Sargeant Jr.
George LeMieux
Annie Kadre
Dr. AK Desai
Jeff and Cyndie Kottkamp
Rob and Lynette Miller
Te* and Patty Mo*

-- Posted by Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:26pm]

    

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