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A paycheck without a job

Published Sep. 10, 2005

It's not surprising that Charlie Crist could find the time to raise such an enormous amount of money for his campaign for attorney general. After all, Crist doesn't have a real job anymore, so his schedule is wide open for fundraisers.

Oh, Crist is still pulling down a nice paycheck, compliments of Florida taxpayers. He still holds the title of state education commissioner. He just doesn't have any real work to do. On July 1, former legislator Jim Horne took over as Florida's education secretary, with responsibility for the massive reorganization of the state's public schools, community colleges and universities. Horne, not Crist, is in charge, and Crist's fellow Republican lawmakers haven't even been particularly subtle in making that point.

Even before Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Horne, Crist was a lame duck who hadn't exactly established a reputation as a hands-on education administrator. Crist knew when he ran for education commissioner last year that the job would be eliminated in 2002, so he was plotting a campaign for his next job before he had even started his current one.

By his own count, Crist already has held about 30 fundraisers for his 2002 attorney general race, and he has raised $744,538 _ more than current Attorney General Bob Butterworth spent on his entire 1998 campaign. Crist is proud of having already amassed such a pile of money and attributes his success to "hard work," among other things.

It's too bad none of that hard work is related to the disappearing job Floridians are still paying him $119,000 a year to perform.