Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist says bill proves he paid for Disney trip, calls audit a sham, but won't elaborate

Gov. Charlie Crist, here speaking at a conference in May in Fort Lauderdale, called on the state Republican Party to release Marco Rubio’s financial records.

Associated Press

Gov. Charlie Crist, here speaking at a conference in May in Fort Lauderdale, called on the state Republican Party to release Marco Rubio’s financial records.

ST. PETERSBURG — Gov. Charlie Crist lashed out at Florida Republican Party leaders Saturday over "a sham" internal audit that suggested party donors may have funded personal vacations and expenses for him and his family.

But his hastily called news conference, and its abrupt end, raised as many questions as it answered.

"The Republican Party bosses have attacked my family and my family's integrity but also perpetrated a fraud on the people of Florida with this report," Crist said. In support of his assertion, he released a bill showing that first lady Carole Crist paid more than $4,700 for a June 2009 Disney vacation singled out in the report.

That internal investigation by the Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird noted that former state Republican Party chairman Jim Greer charged more than $13,400 to the party for a four-day "personal trip" to Disney with his family and the Crist family. They stayed at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

Crist released a Disney bill showing Carole Crist paid $4,712.82 in Disney charges, including more than $2,900 for four nights at the Contemporary Resort, dining expenses, and arcade and gift shop charges.

He fielded just two questions for about a minute outside his campaign office in St. Petersburg. He said he did not know his friend Greer was charging anything to the party on that Disney trip, and he did not know how the Greers managed to spend so much money over those four days.

Then he headed to a waiting car and drove away.

Crist, who has become anathema to the GOP after quitting the party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, named Greer as his personal choice to head the state Republican Party in 2007.

Greer was ousted as party chairman in January amid controversy over lavish spending and alleged mismanagement of party finances. After revelations that he had created a secret company being paid by the party for fundraising work, Greer was indicted on grand theft, fraud and money laundering charges.

"The Republican Party bosses owe my family and I an apology for this, but much more importantly, an apology to the people of Florida,'' Crist said of the report that cost the state party at least $150,000. "This campaign has 45 days left to go. I'm not going to continue to discuss their sham report, this cockamamy thing that's pretty ridiculous.''

Crist went to Disney with his wife and her two daughters, and their bill indicates they spent roughly $645 a night on their Disney rooms.

The Greers, who live in Oviedo — about 45 minutes from Disney World — appear to have spent about $2,000 per night on their rooms. Under current pricing, that would correspond to a two-bedroom presidential suite at the Contemporary hotel.

Left unanswered is whether Greer covered any expenses such as meals and entertainment for the Crists during those four days. For instance, the Disney bill Crist released shows less than $200 for three dining charges in four days, and mentioned no park tickets.

The GOP audit report, though, notes that Disney donated park tickets valued at more than $1,000, which is common practice.

"We're not going to start nickel and diming this sham of a report,'' Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said when asked about expenses that appear to be missing from Carole Crist's Disney bill. "These records clearly show the governor and first lady covered their personal expenses, as they always do. That's more than can be said for Marco Rubio."

Rubio used to have a party credit card that he often used for personal expenses. After the Times/Herald revealed some of his credit card statements, he wound up reimbursing the party about $2,400 for plane tickets that had been improperly double-billed. He has declined to release earlier credit card statements from the period when he was traveling as leader of the GOP state House campaigns operation.

"If they wanted to do something productive, they should release all of speaker-designate Rubio's records. That would be helpful to the people of Florida before this election," Crist said.

GOP chairman John Thrasher had this to say Friday about Crist's and Greer's expenses: "Whether he paid for it or not, the point of this whole audit was to show the excesses and the absolute lack of responsibility that Jim Greer showed, and Charlie Crist was right by his side for three years. He had to have known it was going on. If he didn't, he's incompetent.''

Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report. Adam C. Smith can be reached at

Crist says bill proves he paid for Disney trip, calls audit a sham, but won't elaborate 09/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 18, 2010 10:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]