Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Crist: I'll return donations from Rothstein's law firm

With polls showing his U.S. Senate rival on his heels, Gov. Charlie Crist reversed course Friday and said he would return all campaign donations from employees of the law firm formerly headed by accused con man Scott Rothstein.

Crist had previously returned only $9,600 from Rothstein and his wife. His campaign said Friday he was "in the process'' of returning $76,250 from 35 employees of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt Adler in Fort Lauderdale.

"I'm not clairvoyant," Crist told the Miami Herald editorial board. "But once you find out what has occurred, then you do have this duty to return it, and if there are others that are tied to it, return it as well, and we're going to do that."

Crist's change of heart comes more than two weeks after Rothstein was charged with multiple counts of racketeering. Federal officials said the law firm had been paying employees with tainted money and that some lawyers had been illegally reimbursed for making campaign donations.

But until now, Crist was unwilling to return money traced to the firm. At the same time, he was calling for a grand jury investigation into public corruption. The state Supreme Court approved his request on Dec. 2.

The Rothstein scandal has been playing out in a number of statewide races. A long-shot Democratic candidate for the Senate seat, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, has tried to gain traction in the race by decrying Crist's past refusal to return all money tied to Rothstein's firm. After Crist's announcement Friday, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink — the Democratic frontrunner for governor — said she, too, will give back money from Rothstein's associates, who contributed at least $7,025.

Senate President Jeff Atwater, who is running for Sink's job, said last week that he would return all money tied to Rothstein.

Crist's comments about Rothstein came during a broader conversation about public corruption, "particularly in South Florida, unfortunately." He said cracking down on corruption would be a priority for him during the 2010 legislative session and that the Florida Ethics Commission should have the power to investigate allegations raised in news reports. Currently, the commission cannot begin an investigation without a complaint.

Crist also responded to questions about the growing clamor for Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer to resign amid allegations of misspending. Some activists say Greer is dragging down party fundraising as well as Crist's chances to defeat his Republican rival, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

"I think they're wrong," Crist said. " I think he's doing a good job. People can get ginned up on an issue without having all the facts."

Crist listed jobs, public safety and public education as his top priorities for the upcoming legislative session. He said he was "grateful'' to receive federal stimulus dollars, which he said saved more than 20,000 education jobs this year. He added that he hoped Florida would get additional funding through the federal Race to the Top initiative, which could mean up to $700 million to Florida schools.

Miami Herald staff writers Marc Caputo and Kathleen McGrory contributed to this report.

Gov. Crist: I'll return donations from Rothstein's law firm 12/18/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2009 9:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101