The Florida Council of 100, a politically astute group of top business leaders, abruptly blocked a speech Thursday by Charlie Crist scheduled shortly after an address by Gov. Rick Scott, the Democrat’s successor and likely opponent in November.
The Republican-leaning group had invited Crist weeks ago to address its spring meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, and offered 30 minutes of speaking time.
On Tuesday, it withdrew the invitation, but Crist showed up anyway and listened to Scott’s talk. He then called a press conference and basked in the free publicity.
“It’s silly, childish and, frankly, rude,” said Crist. “It’s galactically stupid.”
The council gave no explanation for silencing Crist, who as a former governor is a lifetime member of the council. Two council leaders, chief executive Susan Pareigis and chairman Steve Halverson, did not respond to phone and text messages and emails.
Crist said Halverson told him Wednesday, “I owe you an apology. I was involved in that,” and that the reason was “we didn’t want it to be political.”
Halverson, a Jacksonville construction executive, has personally given $3,000 to Scott’s reelection campaign and $25,000 more to Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee.