Philanthropist David Straz endorses Crist for governor

Published April 2, 2014

David Straz, a retired banker and one of Tampa Bay's most prominent philanthropists, endorsed Charlie Crist for governor Wednesday.

"I intend to support him in a big way," Straz, a Republican and former Rick Scott supporter, said inside the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

"It is the responsibility of each of us to give back to our communities," said Straz, who has contributed an estimated $25 million to the Performing Arts Center. "Unfortunately some outsiders come to Florida and just take. Rick Scott took from Floridians as a CEO and he is still taking from out state. He took away high-speed transportation and jobs from the city of Tampa. He wanted to take away $4.8 billion from education and he took away access to affordable health care for 1.1 million Floridians."

Crist gave his own blistering assessment.

"David's a businessman. We've got a guy in the Governor's Mansion who calls himself a businessman — but not a good one in my humble opinion," Crist said. "You all know the story. His company had to pay the largest fine for Medicare fraud in the history of the United States of America at the time — $1.7 billion. What kind of company was it? It was a health care company, HCA Columbia. And what did they do? They took money from poor people. They upcoded. You know what upcoding is? It's a fancy word that means they charged too much. When you charge too much you're stealing. And you're stealing from sick people, and that's wrong. I can't believe he's governor. But in seven months we can fix it and get Florida back on track."

Young's donations

The late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's campaign gave away $103,000 to various organizations, including $25,000 to All Children's Hospital Foundation and Bayfront Health Foundation a piece. The donations close out Young's account.

Other recipients: Armed Forces Foundation ($22,000); St. Vincent de Paul ($3,000); Suncoast Hospice Foundation ($10,000); First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks ($5,000); Gold Shield Foundation ($5,000); Remember, Honor, Support Inc. ($1,000); Calvary Episcopal Church ($2,000); Cops for the Cause ($2,500).

Bush sighting

Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, attended a dinner with Michael Bloomberg on Sunday night in New York, Buzz hears. Bush is on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies and he and the former mayor have long worked on education reform.

At the same time, the visit comes as Bush has gained considerable notice as a potential 2016 candidate, including a visit to see Sheldon Adelson last Thursday.

Alex Leary contributed.