FLORIDA GOP RAPID RESPONSE

Official Rapid Response Tumblr Account of the Republican Party of Florida

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Darren Soto’s Crist Cover-up

Governor Scott’s 2014 budget supported Florida’s middle class and invested in state priorities like education, the environment and transportation. Just ask Senator Darren Soto.

Senator Soto voted for Scott’s 2014 budget, which included record funding for education and $500 million in tax cuts for the middle class.

But now, in a desperate attempt to cover up Charlie Crist’s failures, Darren Soto is criticizing the very budget he and his colleagues VOTED FOR.

IT’S WORTH ASKING SENATOR SOTO: Since you voted for Rick Scott’s 2014 budget, do you think record total funding for schools and tax cuts for the middle class are “broken promises?” And if that budget you voted for was full of broken promises, how would you describe Charlie Crist’s promise not to raise taxes, which he broke by raising taxes $2.2 billion?

The Obama/Crist Spend-Then-Tax Policy

Governor Scott kicked off his “Let’s Keep Working” Tax Cut Bus Tour yesterday, noting that Charlie Crist is a lot like Barack Obama when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

What happened the last time President Obama’s binge spending policies were implemented in Florida? In 2009, Charlie Crist promised that Barack Obama’s liberal, free-for-all stimulus would “help avoid tax increases.”

Just 84 days later, in true Charlie Crist form, he raised taxes by $2.2 billion. What’s worse? Charlie Crist bragged about raising taxes to his liberal buddies at MSNBC, and said he would do it again.

Florida can’t afford the Obama/Crist Spend-Then-Tax policy. That’s why Governor Scott repealed Charlie Crist’s tax increases on auto registration, and he isn’t done yet.

Harmful

  • Nothing To Celebrate”
  • “Prevent Some Students From Getting A Higher Education”
  • “Harmful”
  • “Shortchanging”
  • “Long And Exaggerated Laugh”

Who said these things? Some of Charlie Crist’s friends – former Democratic state legislators like Dan Gelber, Tony Hill and Steve Geller. 

And what are they in reference to? Charlie Crist’s cuts to education.

What’s clear is that no amount of shape-shifting can whitewash a chalkboard full of Charlie Crist’s failures on education. Don’t believe us? Just ask his closest allies. They’ll tell you the same thing.

BACKGROUND

In 2008, Dan Gelber Said Crist Cutting Education By $1 Billion Was “Nothing To Celebrate”. “…’This is not a budget that warrants celebration,’ said Gelber, of Miami Beach. ‘A budget that cuts $1 billion from public education at a time when our high school graduation rate is already the worst in the nation is nothing to celebrate.’” (Bill Kaczor, “Crist Signs $66 Bil. State Budget,” Associated Press, 6/11/08)

  • And Said Crist’s Tuition Increase Would Prevent Students From Getting Education. “…He said the budget, which includes a 6 percent tuition increase for community college and university students, also will prevent some students from getting a higher education and deliver ‘a disproportionate amount of pain’ to disabled children and nursing home patients.” (Bill Kaczor, “Crist Signs $66 Bil. State Budget,” Associated Press, 6/11/08)

In 2009, Gelber Slammed Crist For Proposing Additional Cuts To Education. “’He needs to draw a line in the sand,” Gelber said. ‘I don’t know that a budget that’s closing schools and firing teachers and gutting programs is a hold-harmless budget. I think it’s a harmful budget.’” (Steve Bousquet, “Budget Decisions Await Crist,” St. Petersburg Times, 3/29/09)

Jacksonville State Senator Tony Hill Said Crist “Shortchanging” Kids With Budget. “…State Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, said Florida isn’t providing well enough for the education of its children and hasn’t been for years. ‘We’re shortchanging them,’ Hill said.” (Mary Kelli Palka, “Will Our Kids Pay The Price?,” Florida Times-Union, 3/15/09)

Steve Geller Gave A “Long And Exaggerated Laugh” In Response To Crist’s Education Budget In 2008. "Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, and House Democratic chief Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, followed Crist in addressing the AP conference. When asked about Crist’s education budget, Geller said, ‘Here is my response,’ then paused dramatically and tilted back his head, giving a long and exaggerated laugh." (Bill Cotterell, "Crist Urges More For Education," Florida Today, 1/18/2008)

From the Archives: Gelber Rips Crist on Education

In response to Governor Scott’s announcement that next year’s budget will include record per-pupil funding for K-12 education, the Crist Campaign rolled out former State Senator Den Gelber as their surrogate.

The problem is, Dan Gelber consistently trashed Charlie Crist while he was governor, particularly on his education budget.

Here are some snippets from a 2009 Tampa Bay Times story on Charlie Crist’s 2009 budget.

On education, Crist’s “hold harmless” argument doesn’t wash with lawmakers.

"He says he doesn’t want to cut services, but he doesn’t want to increase taxes. It’s hard to navigate that," said Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. "At some point he’s got to say: Cigarette tax, yea or nay? Tax exemptions, yea or nay?"

"He needs to draw a line in the sand," Gelber said. "I don’t know that a budget that’s closing schools and firing teachers and gutting programs is a hold-harmless budget. I think it’s a harmful budget."

Gelber produced a document prepared by the Senate education staff showing that $1.4 billion has been cut from the public schools over the past two years, for a net drop in per-pupil funding of $445.43 during that period, which also coincides with Crist’s tenure as governor.

"He does need to engage, because he’s going to be saddled with the result. People are going to turn to him and say, ‘How did this happen, and why?’ ” Gelber said.

Ouch.

Charlie Crist Running Away…Again

  • Nan Rich (actual Democrat)
  • Debate panelist (tough questions)
  • Families with popcorn (carbs?)

If you’re wondering: that’s a list of things that strike so much fear into the heart of Charlie Crist that, instead of answering their questions about his record, he turns and runs. First he refused to debate Nan Rich. Then he bullied a panelist out of a debate. Now he’s bailing on a local chamber rally because someone might have asked a question he didn’t want to answer. 

"A political rally was held Thursday night at the Bartow Civic Center with the oft-repeated question: "Where’s Charlie?” Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democratic candidate for governor, was supposed to have come to the Bartow Chamber of Commerce’s rally….But Crist did not come…Did the planned Republican protest scare the candidate away? Or was the Crist campaign playing a campaign trick on the Republicans? The trouble is that the campaign didn’t tell the Bartow chamber. ‘No one bothered to tell us,’ Virginia Cordello, the chamber’s director of communications said Thursday…The Bartow chamber provided the rally without charge, which increased the number of families and children learning about politics. Popcorn and drinks were free and food could be purchased at the snack bar.”(Bill Rufty, “Charlie Crist a No-Show at Bartow Rally Where GOP Activists Were Waiting,” Lakeland Ledger, 8/22/14)

Charlie Crist sure seems to run away a lot. Why is he so scared? Could it be that he’s afraid someone will figure out he stands for nothing and no one but himself? 

We look forward to learning the answer…whenever he comes out of hiding.

Fuzzy Math

NEWSFLASH for Charlie: Gubernatorial terms are four years long, not one year. Or, does he have amnesia when it comes to his total education record vs. Governor Scott’s?

EDUCATION FUNDING BY THE NUMBERS

When taking Charlie Crist’s ENTIRE term into account:

  • His last and final budget provided K-12 schools $550 per student less in state funds than his first budget.

When taking Rick Scott’s ENTIRE term into account:

  • His latest budget provides $370 per student more in state funds than Crist’s last budget.

And today, Governor Scott announced that in the next legislative session he will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to be the highest ever in Florida history.

When it comes to education funding, Charlie Crist gets an F: for his record, his fuzzy math and his revisionist history.

Mixed message

Last Monday during a press conference after voting early, Charlie Crist’s running mate was asked about her position on Florida doing business with Cuba.

Annette Taddeo’s response?

“I don’t think we should be doing business with Cuba.”

But what is Charlie Crist’s jobs plan?

“…to open the markets of Florida businesses just 90 miles from our coast.”

Just one week ago, Crist’s running mate contradicted a major piece of his jobs plan for Florida. It’s just another mixed message from a ticket that can’t figure out what its message is.    

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

200 days of ducking

200 days. That’s how long it’s been since Charlie Crist first refused to debate lifelong Democrat Nan Rich. 

And when asked repeatedly about his refusal, he recently said he “doesn’t have the time.” 

As the Tampa Bay Times noted, “And now there is no campaign spin imaginable that will excuse the way Crist has ducked Rich.”

Charlie’s refusal shows how little respect he has for a woman who has been a champion of the party he only recently joined. But that’s nothing new. The fact is, Charlie has never cared about anyone but himself. 

He could show some respect to all Democrats, and the voters of Florida by being open about his positions and accepting a debate with his opponent.

Instead, it’s just been 200 days of ducking. 

It’ll Cost You

The Obamacare embrace continues for Charlie Crist, despite a round of new bad numbers – that show Floridians will be paying higher out-of-pocket costs for their Obamacare premiums next year – to the tune of a 13.2% average monthly increase.

What does Charlie Crist think is “great?” 

Check out these headlines:

Tampa Tribune: “Obamacare premiums rising 13.2 percent in Florida”

National Journal: “If You Like Your Obamacare Plan, It’ll Cost You”

The New Republic: “The Next Obamacare Glitch”

Politico: “Consumers’ next Obamacare challenge: Tax forms”

Wall Street Journal: “Small Firms Hit by Big Changes in Health Coverage”

Jobs just aren’t his thing

Yesterday, Charlie Crist did his best Barack Obama impression (he even borrowed the teleprompter) announcing his “policy” plan for jobs.

Only problem? Crist’s “major policy announcement” was nothing but rehashed, desperate attacks and a “copy-paste” of President Obama’s failed economic plan that made little reference to job creation. That’s right – pages and pages of attacks on Governor Scott – but light on policies that will create jobs.

The Miami Herald even said: “Crist’s jobs event in Ft Laud[erdale] was largely a repeat of his attacks on Scott about ed[ucation] cuts and Medicaid expansion.” Yep, Crist is stealing a page right out of Obama’s blame-everyone-else playbook.

Charlie Crist’s “jobs” plan? Implement proven job-killing policies.

  • Embrace President Obama’s failed health care law, which has raised premiums for the middle class? Check.
  • Circumvent the constitution and the legislature by mandating policies through executive order? Check.
  • Ignore any ideas that promote actual job creation? Check.

With a record of 832,000 job losses, you can’t fault Crist for playing the blame game. Jobs just aren’t his thing.

ICYMI: Charlie Crist’s Stance On Candidate Debates Is ‘Grand Hypocrisy’

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Times’ John Romano blasted Charlie Crist’s “grand hypocrisy” on debates. As Romano notes, “there is no campaign spin imaginable that will excuse the way Crist has ducked Rich.”

Excerpts below:

“When it was announced that Scott had agreed to three statewide debates this fall, Crist immediately released a statement blasting the governor for not taking part in additional debates. A “disservice to voters” is the way Crist phrased it.

To be honest, I’m baffled as to what factors might have led to this statement. It could have been an abundance of enthusiasm. It could have been excess hubris. It may have simply been a case of sudden-onset-stupid.

Though the actual reasons are up for grabs, the result is not:

It was grand hypocrisy.

For months, Crist has ignored calls to debate his lesser-known Democratic rival Nan Rich

And now there is no campaign spin imaginable that will excuse the way Crist has ducked Rich.

Thanks to his “disservice to voters” line, Crist has reminded us all that we deserve a chance to hear candidates in (relatively) unscripted moments. And his refusal to debate Rich was a disservice to 4.5 million registered Democrats in Florida.

Too many voters are wary of his past views. Too many worry that his embrace of the party is further evidence of his opportunistic ways.

The complete disregard of Rich’s candidacy showed a certain lack of humility on Crist’s part. It offered no self-awareness that he was the one who arrived late to their party.”

Click Here To Read The Full Story

An open “thank you” letter from polluter James Finch to Charlie Crist

Dear Charlie,

Thank you so much for letting me take you to that environmental press conference last Friday in Tallahassee. I know the trip from Gainesville to Tallahassee is short and most people would have opted to just drive – especially since your press conference was on “the environment!” ;) But, I really needed to be a part of that skillful messaging … you truly are a great speaker, by the way.

You see, times have been tough since my company, Phoenix Construction, was fined TWICE for violating those pesky Department of Environmental Protection regulations. Those DEP tree-huggers fined me $1.7 million in 2009 for polluting! Can you believe that? Almost $2 million just for some storm water pollution…

Anyhow, being a part of your “environmental press conference” where you committed to protecting the environment will hopefully go a long way to reforming my image. I was a little afraid on Friday when a reporter asked you about my pollution record that you wouldn’t want me involved with transporting you and your campaign anymore (not to mention that whole NASCAR debacle, LOL). But, Charlie, you are a true friend. And, it was a privilege for me to fly you again yesterday as well. I do love St. Pete!

Your friend,

James Finch 

PS – I attached some photos from our time together. Let’s make some more memories soon.

PPS – Don’t let those annoying campaign finance limits stop you from using my plane! Those are really more of “suggestions” and no one really looks into your flight records anyhow. 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR PARODY LETTER ABOVE

Miami Herald Last Friday: “Charlie Crist Flies To Enviro Press Conference – On Jet Of Developer Fined For Pollution” “Democrat Charlie Crist flew to an environmental press event [Friday] on the private jet of a developer fined for pollution.Almost as soon Crist stepped off the 2005 Cessna 560XL, Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign had photographed its tail number and traced its ownership to developer James Finch, whose company Phoenix Construction was fined at least twice for violating environmental rules …”  (Marc Caputo, “Charlie Crist Flies To Enviro Press Conference – On Jet Of Developer Fined For Pollution,” The Miami Herald, 7/28/14)

  • Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo:“[M]aybe He Could Have Held The Event In Gainesville, Where The Governor Had Flown From. That’s Less Than A Three Hour Drive From Tallahassee. It Would’ve Saved Fuel. And The Drive Would’ve Spared Crist A Bad Headline He Didn’t Need.”(Marc Caputo, “Charlie Crist Flies To Enviro Press Conference – On Jet Of Developer Fined For Pollution,” The Miami Herald, 7/28/14)

Phoenix Construction, Owned By James Finch Was Fined $1.7 Million By Department Of Environmental Protection For Polluting Waters Near Panama City Airport Construction Site. “The Department of Environmental Protection is fining Phoenix Construction $1.7 million for environmental permit violations at the new airport under construction near West Bay. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) notified the company Friday. The DEP’s judgment follows an investigation over runoff violations from heavy rains this spring that already resulted in airport fines of $250,000 and $200,000 in fees for an outside environmental consultant.” (Pat Kelly, “Phoenix Fined $1.7 Million: Officials Say Issue Will Not Affect Opening Date, Recruitment Of Low-Cost Airline,” Panama City News Herald, 9/19/09)

  • DEP Said Phoenix Construction Was Cutting Corners On Best Management Practices. “The DEP calculated that Phoenix cut corners in what the industry calls ‘Best Management Practices,’ saving itself $964,500, according to a DEP investigation conducted by complaints and enforcement manager Jessica Kleinfelter, who did not return calls for comment Friday.” (Pat Kelly, “Phoenix Fined $1.7 Million: Officials Say Issue Will Not Affect Opening Date, Recruitment Of Low-Cost Airline,” Panama City News Herald, 9/19/09)
  • DEP Said Phoenix Construction Was Disregarding Its Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. “Phoenix didn’t follow its Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) by covering the soil with a synthetic covering or hydroseeding ‘for at least a period of three months,’ according to Kleinfelter. The average cost of seed and mulch is $1,500 per acre, according to EPA guidelines.” (Pat Kelly, “Phoenix Fined $1.7 Million: Officials Say Issue Will Not Affect Opening Date, Recruitment Of Low-Cost Airline,” Panama City News Herald, 9/19/09) 

Charlie Crist Was “Audibly Annoyed” With Questions About His Ride On Private Plan Owned By James Finch, Who Has Contributed $150,000 To Crist’s Campaign. “Minutes before the meeting began, a staffer from Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign showed up to hand out information about Crist’s ride to the event: a private jet. The plane is owned by Crist donor James Finch, a Panama City developer whose company has faced fines in the past for violating water pollution laws.‘That is not the issue of today,’ said Crist, who was audibly annoyed by the question … Finch has contributed $150,000 to a committee supporting Crist and given the campaign flights on his plane worth $2,268, according to the most recently available campaign finance reports.” (Matt Dixon, “Governor Candidate Charlie Crist Working To Formulate Climate Change Policy,” Naples Daily News, 7/25/14)

Finch Sponsored NASCAR Vehicle For Crist’s Campaign Before It Was Stripped Away By The Team’s Owner. “Charlie Crist is out of the race — at least the Coke Zero 400 … The Republican-turned-Democratic candidate for governor’s name was going to appear on Josh Wise’s No. 98 car, but his decals were removed Friday after the Republican Party of Florida filed a complaint earlier in the week alleging the sponsorship broke campaign finance laws, said car owner Phil Parsons and Mike Curb, the car’s entrant and associate sponsor … James Finch, a Panama City businessman, told The News-Journal Thursday he brokered a roughly $25,000 deal with Parsons to promote Crist during the nationally televised Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. Curb put the deal’s value at $50,000. Parsons declined to discuss how much the sponsorship cost.” (Skyler Swisher and Chris Graham, “Charlie Crist’s Name Stripped From Race Car,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, 7/4/14)

By the numbers…nothing to see here

If Charlie Crist and Florida Democrats want to talk  about “dodging,” here are a few numbers to remember:

35:      Days since Charlie Crist DODGED Governor Scott’s challenge for full transparency by refusing to release his and his spouse’s tax returns.

177:    Days since Charlie Crist first DODGED debating Nan Rich.

259:    Days since Charlie Crist announced his candidacy, yet has DODGED releasing a single policy initiative. 

When it comes to Charlie Crist’s campaign, there’s nothing to see here. 

It’s Been One Month…

Floridians have waited 30 long days for Charlie Crist to be fully transparent after he was challenged by Governor Scott to release his and his spouse’s tax returns.

After Crist’s campaign promised to release both his and his spouse’s tax returns, we’re still waiting.

Florida has a tradition of transparency for candidates running for statewide office, yet Charlie refuses to give the voters what they deserve – a clear and accurate picture of his finances. Instead, he and Florida Democrats resort to baseless attacks to try and distract from his broken promise of transparency.

And, with yesterday’s uncovering of a deed document with Charlie Crist’s name but never reported on his income taxes or personal financial disclosure, we have to ask, what’s he hiding?