The Florida Council of 100 claims to be nonpartisan and devoted to public policy. It failed to meet those standards by welcoming Gov. Rick Scott to speak and rescinding its invitation to former Gov. Charlie Crist. The influential business leaders acted more like a political committee than a broad-based organization with the state's best interest at heart.
The incumbent Republican governor spoke to the Council of 100 Thursday at an Orlando hotel, promoting job creation and tax breaks. Crist, the Republican-turned-Democrat expected to face Scott in November, also was invited to speak. He was told earlier this week the invitation was rescinded. The decision involved Council of 100 chair Steven Halverson of Jacksonville, who just happens to have contributed $25,000 to Scott's political committee.
Crist was the only Democratic candidate on a two-day program that in addition to Scott includes Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the lieutenant governor and the incoming state Senate president. That is a lot of preaching to the choir for a group whose board of directors includes several prominent Republican fundraisers and advisers. (Tampa Bay Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash is a member of the Council of 100. He said he was not consulted about the decision to disinvite Crist and takes "strong exception" to it.)
The business executives missed a substantive speech by Crist, who left their meeting shortly after Scott's speech. Crist's prepared remarks include his plans to improve public education, offer incentives for graduate school students in key areas, expand foreign trade and embrace mass transit. He appears more open-minded for being willing to speak than the business leaders who refused to listen.