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3 posts from June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

Crist releases 10 years of income tax returns, urges Scott to do the same

Responding to criticism from Gov. Rick Scott's campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on Thursday released 10 years of federal income tax returns. (You can view them here.)

During that time, Crist drew a six-figure salary as a state employee and had virtually no debt, the records show. By the end of the decade, his net worth was approaching $500,000.

"Charlie is giving Florida families an unprecedented look into his life because they deserve to know their governor is looking out for them," his campaign manager Omar Khan said in a statement.

Crist did not, however, release his wife Carole's returns, as some Republicans have called on him to do.

Scott and his wife Ann released their joint tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 last week.

When Crist failed to do the same, Scott's political committee aired a TV spot that asked: "What's he hiding?" 

"I'm certainly disappointed that Charlie Crist doesn't believe in transparency," Scott said in a statement. "Ann and I released both of our tax returns and we asked him and his wife to follow our lead. He is refusing. Alex Sink released her tax returns and her husband's when she ran for governor. Jeb Bush and his wife released theirs. The question we are all asking now is, what is Charlie hiding? I don’t think the people of Florida will let him get away with it."

On Wednesday, Crist released his tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

He released returns dating back to 2001 the following day.

The campaign plans to release another 10 years of the candidate's tax returns soon, Khan said.

"[Crist] is calling on Rick Scott to release his returns going back 20 years as well," Khan said. "Given that Rick Scott hides his assets and has dodged personal accountability his entire career, we suspect he will hide his taxes, just as he has hidden all of the depositions from his days as a corporate raider."

Crist has been adamant that he will not release his wife's returns. The two file separately.

Bob Butterworth to receive Bar Foundation top award

Bob Butterworth, Florida's longest-serving attorney general, will receive the prestigious Medal of Honor Award from the Florida Bar Foundation Thursday in conjunction with the Florida Bar's annual convention in Orlando.

A Democrat from Hollywood, Butterworth served four terms as attorney general from 1987 to 2002. Known for having one of the most diverse resumes in the history of Florida politics, he served as a state prosecutor, county judge, circuit judge, Broward sheriff, executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and interim mayor of Sunrise.

During his time as A.G., Butterworth helped to lead Florida's legal assault against the tobacco industry. A Bar Foundation news release described his "game-changing leadership" as secretary of the Department of Children and Families in the term of former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, where he professionalized DCF's legal staff, improved transparency and gave a stronger voice to foster children.

Butterworth, 71, is of counsel to the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney/Fowler White Boggs.

He repeatedly rebuffed entreaties that he run for governor, and he lost his final bid for public office in 2002 in a state Senate race to Republican Jeff Atwater, now Florida's CFO. Butterworth was prominently featured in an early 2014 campaign video endorsing Crist for governor.

Why shouldn't the public see the investments of Crist's -- and Scott's -- wives?


Charlie Crist's campaign in recent days has been in full outrage mode, suggesting that Rick Scott and his allies have hit "a new low" in sleazy, negative campaigning. Why? Because Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee released an ad yesterday that featured an image of former First Lady Carole Crist and noting that the Crists are declining to release her tax returns.

"What's he hiding?" the ad asks, while Crist campaign adviser Kevin Cate contends targeting a candidate's spouse in a TV ad is unprecedented in Florida and beyond the pale.

But why shouldn't the public have a look at the investments of the woman Crist says has the greatest influence on his decision-making? Heck, why isn't the Crist campaign demanding to see more disclosure of the trusts Rick Scott put under the control of his wife?

Team Crist cried foul earlier this week when Progressive Choice, widely believed to be a GOP front group helping Scott, started airing radio ads that the Crist campaign claims associates Crist with slavery. Here's the script.

The old chain gangs. They were called barbaric, humiliating, reminiscent of slavery. Charlie Crist didn't care. As state senator he wanted to put Florida prisoners back in shackles, men chained together wilting in the hot sun as heavy leg irons dug deep into their skin. But to Chain Gang Charlie it didn't matter - as long as he was tough on crime and easy on guns. Guns? Crist opposed criminal background checks and the waiting period on gun purchases. As governor Crist went even further, stopping even the most sensible gun control bills - allowing weapons to flow into our cities and imposing some of the harshest sentencing guidelines in the country for non-violent offenders. Chain Gang Charlie said yes to guns and yes to the laws that would have put Floridians back in shackles. It's time Chain Gang Charlie answer for his record. Is he the real progressive he claims to be?  Florida deserves the answer. Paid for by Progressive Choice.

It's a tough spot. But while I'll leave it to PolitiFact to judge whether Crist suppported enacting the toughest sentencing guidelines in the country for non-violent offenders, everything else in the ad seems pretty accurate. Crist certainly didn't mind when the St. Pete Times derogatively labeled him "Chain Gang Charlie" in the early 1990s, when he wasn't courting African-Ameriican voters. He embraced the label then, and he owns it today.

I'm reminded of something a veteran Republican pol named Charlie Crist once said of to Marco Rubio when he was complaining about tough attacks: Welcome to the NFL.