Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist's travel on lobbyist's plane raises governor's race intrigue

TALLAHASSEE — Is someone stalking Charlie Crist?

The former governor last month hopped on a private plane owned by Tallahassee lobbyist Dave Ramba, who runs an air charter service. Crist was invited to fly on the plane chartered by Fowler White, a Tallahassee law firm.

Nobody but Crist and the law firm even knew about the flight.

Ramba said he was surprised when he was later asked by a client who came to his office demanding to know, "Why are you flying Crist around?"

Ramba then checked the flight calendar and realized the plane had been, in fact, leased by the Tallahassee law firm of Fowler White. But he didn't know who was on the flight. "Somebody had to have been tracking Charlie for it to have come back to me," Ramba said.

Ramba wouldn't disclose who asked him about the flight but believes "somebody saw (Crist) get on the flight and took down the tail number" to track it to Ramba's air charter service.

The law firm says it chartered the plane to take Linda Shelley, a Democrat and former chief of staff to former Gov. Lawton Chiles, to Fort Lauderdale from Tallahassee. She was there for law firm business and then attended an environmental forum at St. Thomas University School of Law. Crist was at the same forum along with former Govs. Bob Graham and Buddy MacKay.

Shelley, who was traveling back to Tallahassee, asked Crist if he needed a ride back to his home in St. Petersburg. Crist accepted.

"It was fairly last minute," Shelley recalled. "He said he had never been in a plane that small. He called it a mosquito."

John M. "Mac" Stipanovich, a Republican lawyer in Fowler White's Tallahassee office and a Scott supporter, said that with Crist rumored to be a potential candidate for governor again, this time as a Democrat, it would not be unusual for potential opponents to be tracking him.

"I would be more surprised if the governor's campaign team isn't keeping track of Bill Nelson and Charlie Crist," he said.

Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said she "had no idea" whether anyone associated with the governor was involved and referred questions to the Republican Party of Florida. Calls to party officials were not immediately returned.

Crist says he has heard of tracking candidates "but tracking a noncandidate is taking it to a new level."

He said he remains surprised that the Republican Party of Florida ran ads against him last fall. "Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by anything,'' he said.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com.

Crist's travel on lobbyist's plane raises governor's race intrigue 03/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Wrong-way driver on Courtney Campbell Causeway intercepted by police, faces DUI charge

    Public Safety

    A woman driving in the wrong direction on the Courtney Campbell Causeway early Monday morning was intercepted by Tampa Police officers and faces a DUI charge.

  2. Relative 'devastated' after shooting kills 8 in Mississippi

    Nation

    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — Head in hands, his voice strained, Vincent Mitchell sat outside his little yellow home and tried to make sense of how a family dispute led to a rampage that killed eight people, including the deputy who tried to keep them safe.

    Christianna May-Kelly, center, is supported by family members as she cries after answering reporters questions outside her parents' home in Brookhaven, Miss., Sunday. May-Kelly said her parents and mother were among the people gunned down during a shooting in rural Mississippi Saturday night. [AP photo]
  3. Forecast: Sunny, clear Memorial Day ahead of increased rain chances throughout the week

    Weather

    If you're planning on heading outside today for Memorial Day activities, the weather shouldn't get in the way.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  5. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.