Charlie Crist raised money in Tallahassee Thursday with a fund-raiser at the law firm of Parks & Crump, known for civil rights litigation and for having represented the family of shooting victim Trayvon Martin.
Speaking with reporters outside the event, the former Republican governor-turned-Democrat blasted Gov. Rick Scott for his appointments, ethics, voting rights decisions and refusal to accept federal money for a high-speed rail system.
"He's got his record and I've got mine," Crist said, and cited the record $1.7 billion fine for fraudulent health care billings imposed on Columbia/HCA, the hospital company Scott formerly ran. "What is fraud with a health care company? Basically it's called upcoding, which is kind of a fancy word for stealing. That's wrong. It's not the right thing to do."
He said Scott has "disappointed" Floridians, such as by proposing a $1.3 billion cut to schools in his first year and a $300 million cut to universities his second year. Scott has advocated $1 billion increases for schools each of the past two years.
"A disaster" is how Crist described the quality and turnover rate of Scott's appointments to state agencies.
Reporters reminded Crist that under Scott, unemployment in Florida is steadily dropping and state revenues are rising.
His response: "The turnaround started when we were still here." Noting his acceptance of billions in stimulus money, he said: "I did things to keep us from going further in the ditch."
On Scott's pick this week of former Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor, Crist said: "Carlos is a fine fellow but he's with the wrong guy. This race is about Gov. Scott ... He's the top of the ticket, and that's really at the end of the day what the race is about."
Crist allowed reporters inside the fund-raiser. Guests included Rep. Alan Williams; lobbyist Sean Pittman; Walt McNeil, who was Crist's secretary of corrections and criminal justice, and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, who said she was there as a courtesy and has attended similar events for another Democratic candidate, former Sen. Nan Rich of Weston.
-- Steve Bousquet