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Fact-check of RPOF's ad about Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein buying Charlie Crist's judicial picks

Florida’s famous Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein now lives in a federal prison, but Republicans hope that he can help smear the reputation of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Back when Crist was a Republican, Rothstein and his Fort Lauderdale law firm donated generously to Crist and the Republican Party of Florida, as well as several other politicians.

In 2010, Rothstein was convicted in a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Rothstein’s testimony in a related case provided fodder now being used by Republicans to attack Crist in a TV ad.

"Convicted swindler Scott Rothstein bought expensive things with stolen money. He even bought a governor," says the narrator. "Rothstein boasted about contributing huge sums of money to the campaign of then Gov. Charlie Crist and the influence it gave him over judicial appointments. Now cooperating with prosecutors, Scott Rothstein admits he gave hundreds of thousands of campaign cash to control Crist’s appointments of key state judges."

Florida newspapers have extensively covered Rothstein’s case over the years. We wanted to know if the facts matched up with the ad’s brief description. To do that, we reviewed everything we could find on the case and conducted new interviews of people who had dealings with Rothstein on judicial appointments.

What we found doesn’t reflect well on Crist, who took Rothstein’s money and placed him on a key commission that selected judges.

But we also failed to find hard evidence that Rothstein actually controlled Crist’s judicial appointments as the ad claims. Those who served on a judicial nominating commission with him painted a portrait of someone who was all style but not much substance. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our rating and the full fact-check.

Comments

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Can't take anymore

Team Scott will tell any lie, twist any fact and get as low as a slug's belly in their efforts to get their weird looking, known crook boss re-elected. Charlie's no saint but his relationship with Rothstein was about the same as a dozen other Republican politicians and their state party apparatus. They know they can't argue policy or personality with Charlie so rely on the GOP tradition of the Big Smear. Somewhere the ghost of Richard Nixon is smiling at them.

Highly paid Republican operative

True Rothstein was one of us!

Jim Johnson

Charlie Crist is a slimy one. Buddying up with Rothstein is Charlie's style. Crist is s total flip-flopper. Just like a fish on a deck of of a boat. Don't trust anyone who changed their position on a subject as quickly as they change socks.

Pink Mango

Dear "Can't take anymore" -- Your argument would be more salient if you left out "weird looking"--it doesn't help your argument and reflects poorly on you.

dano bivins

But...he IS weird looking. Everyone I know refers to him as "skeletor". Have you seen his navy boot camp photo? A picture says a lot.
But of course it's his policies and the disastrous effects they've had on Florida tht really count. We all know that.

Twitstrum

Haven't you all realized by now that most professional politicians are sociopaths. You choose between the gun, the knife, or the pile of poison.

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