Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday announced a hard-hitting TV ad that attempts to tie his Republican U.S. Senate rival, Marco Rubio, with indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom.
"Both steered millions of taxpayer money into two colleges," a female narrator says, followed by a male voice that adds, "Then, received cushy jobs from the colleges."
Rubio's campaign called the ad sad and false.
The commercial dramatically shows the word "indicted" under Sansom's picture and the word "subpoenaed" under Rubio's — a reference to the fact that Rubio could have been called as a witness had a House inquiry of Sansom not been short-circuited by Sansom's resignation from the state Legislature in late February.
Sansom, R-Destin, got into trouble after he took a $110,000 job at Northwest Florida State College. A Times/Herald investigation showed how as then-House Speaker Rubio's top budget official, Sansom steered $35 million to the school.
Sansom took his job on the day he took over as speaker in November 2008. Rubio got a teaching job at Florida International University in Miami as he was leaving the Legislature that year. Budget records show that as speaker, he helped FIU get millions in funding. He has said he showed the school, among the state's largest, no special favor.
While Crist paints the two in a harsh light, the TV ad ignores that as governor, he had the ability to veto specific projects but did not.
That includes $6 million Sansom got for an airport building that one of his friends, Jay Odom, had wanted to use for his corporate jet business. That deal led a grand jury to indict Sansom; the case is ongoing.
"It's sad that Charlie Crist's political fortunes have fallen so far that he is willing to do and say anything to try to win this election," said Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos. "Only a candidate on his last gasp of desperation would run an ad so false and so over the top against a fellow Republican."