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Fearful of offending Gov. Rick Scott, Council of 100 cancels Charlie Crist speech


The Council of 100 has canceled former Gov. Charlie Crist's scheduled speech on Thursday morning, which he had planned to give just hours after his political opponent and successor, Gov. Rick Scott, appeared.

The reasons for the cancelation are unclear, but sources familiar with the incident say the business group felt nervous about the political ramifications of upsetting the current incumbent at the council's Spring General Membership Meeting in Orlando.

The council's president and CEO, Susan Pareigis, didn't return calls, a text message or an email. Spokespeople for Scott couldn't be reached, either.

When asked for comment, Crist spokesman Kevin Cate confirmed that the Democrat's 11 a.m. speech was canceled and suggested it was done with Scott in mind, as one council member privately told The Miami Herald.

"It’s unfortunate that Rick Scott is apparently using every ounce of political pressure he has left to stifle healthy dialogue about the future of our state. He is clearly scared of the People’s Governor and the people’s will coming in November,” Cate said in a statement.

Crist still plans to attend the meeting -- all former governors are members -- and at least one member of the council privately said that he hoped the decision to block Crist from speaking would be reversed.

"This is a non-political organization," a member said.

But it's the first time the organization, or Florida, have seen a governor's race pitting an incumbent against his predecessor.

At past spring events, a member said, the governor usually kicks off the meeting at reception, which took place tonight. But Scott had a fundraiser with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in New Smyrna Beach. So Scott was scheduled to appear at 8 a.m.

Following Scott: former House Speaker Allan Bense and his son-in-law, current House Speaker Will Weatherford, who said he will be unable to attend. Political strategist Mike Murphy, an advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks at 9 a.m., followed by PBS News House political analyst Mark Shields at 10 a.m.

Crist was supposed to speak next, according to the schedule.

The Council of 100 Crist cancellation isn't the first time that Scott critics have encountered turbulence.

In March, Florida State University professor Diane Roberts – an occasional Tampa Bay Times opinion writer and frequent Scott critic -- was briefly dis-invited from speaking at state-run Mission San Luis. One worker threatened to resign and accused “Scott’s cronies” at the Secretary of State’s office of censorship.

The office declined to comment on the allegations, but reversed its decision and invited Roberts to speak.

Early this month, the Department of Environmental Protection removed from its website pictures taken by outdoor photographer John Moran, an environmental critic of the agency and Scott’s policies over the condition of Florida’s springs.

The Tallahassee Democrat unearthed an agency email suggesting Moran’s photographs were specifically targeted for removal, but a DEP spokesperson said they were taken down to make way for a state park photo contest.

Here's the program: Download Council of 100