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Charlie Crist: Rothstein pay-to-play allegation 'absurd'

Cristrothstein

Maurice Ferre, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, today called for an investigation into Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign, claiming that accused Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein had a habit of contributing money to the Republican Party of Florida when Crist approved judicial picks that Rothstein supported. Rothstein was appointed by Crist to the Judicial Nominating Commission for Broward County.

Asked about the allegation and call for an investigation, Crist said "It's absurd."

Said Ferre's campaign: "State campaign finance records show a troubling pattern of large contributions from Mr. Rothstein and immediate and subsequent appointments of Judges to the Fourth District Court of Appeals," said Ferre, a former six-term mayor of Miami. "Is this pattern a coincidence? Could it indicate real corruption in the Judicial nominating process and raise legitimate questions about a possibility of Crist's integrity and his fitness to govern?"

Rothstein's  law firm gave $52,000 to the state GOP on July 28, 2008, the same day that Crist appointed Jay Hurley to the Broward County court. A day later Rothstein's firm donated another $25,000 to the party.

Crist appointed Rothstein to the 4th DCA Judicial nominating commission on August 25, 2008, four days before Rothstein contributed $140,000 to the RPOF.Rothstein and his firm gave $100,000 to the RPOF on January 26, 2009. Crist appointed Judges Carlos Rodriguez and Barbara McCarthy two days later. Ferre also questioned Crist's appointment of Spencer Levine to an appellate judgeship in the 4th circuit, saying Rothstein pushed his appointment despite lack of judicial experience.

"Are all these incidents just coincidence?" asked Ferre. "Perhaps the U.S. Attorney's investigation into corruption in South Florida should be expanded to include the Governor's possible auctioning of judicial appointments in Broward County.  We need to know what Charlie Crist knew and when he knew it.

In the case of Levine, though, it's not unexpected that Crist appointed him. Levine headed the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit when Crist was attorney general.

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