I’m switching to Democrat–For the People
It is no secret that for at least the past eight years, I have been exposing Charlie Crist as utterly unprincipled, opportunistic, and corrupt.
My belief that he was a menace even compelled me to privately vote against him in the 2006 General Election, which marked the first time I had ever voted for a Democrat in a major election, or perhaps ever.
For the first few years of his administration, I and a small group of principled activists in the Republican Party openly criticized Charlie Crist and his minions like Jim Greer and other bootlickers for running amok and personally profiting off their mutual mischief and were exiled from our party for doing so.
Our issue was not necessarily Crist’s public policy pursuits–although the disagreements were numerous–or his incessant pandering, or even his countless flip-flops. Our main objection to Crist was what he was doing with the instrumentalities under his direct control. That is, the irresponsibility with which he conducted himself as head of Florida state government and titular head of the Republican Party.
During the Crist administration, just about every decision, initiative, public policy agenda, appearance and remark was nothing more than a calculated PR stunt to personally ingratiate himself to the demographic or audience du jour in preparation for his next run for office regardless of its implications to the state and the very people he was pandering to.
This is a man who has never run for reelection to any of the various statewide positions he has held, including the one he now once again aspires to. Instead of spearheading a meaningful initiative or shepherding a necessary reform that would have left a lasting legacy, he has used each office the people entrusted him to as a trampoline to jump to the next office: While he was Education Commissioner, he was running for Attorney General; during his one term as Attorney General, he was running for governor; and during his four short years as governor, he dedicated his time pursuing two federal offices–Vice President in 2008 and U.S. Senator in 2010.
He was a perpetual candidate that neglected the duties he was elected to perform and the challenges the people he so often invokes entrusted him to address. His term as governor was particularly marked by dereliction of duty, corruption and abuse of power. Some highlights:
- Crist shamelessly used taxpayer resources to promote himself during many of these runs, most notably while he was running for US Senate travelling the state as governor for phony “bill signings” and other such de facto campaign photo-ops;
- He inserted his corrupt cronies into key positions for his own political gain as he did when he nominated his friend and bagman, the now-disgraced ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein to the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) so other cronies and donors could be elevated to judge (more on that later);
- He and his entourage (including his then-fiancée) jetsetted around Europe “in style,” racking tens of thousands of dollars worth of bills for extravagant meals, first-class airline tickets, mini-bar tabs, and luxurious presidential suites paid for in part by taxpayers at the height of Florida’s recession;
- He skipped over respected and proven leaders and opted instead for his own campaign manager and chief-of-staff George LeMieux to fill a vacant US Senate seat, thereby allowing a proxy to fundraise and build support in DC for his US Senate bid;
- He even carelessly played with people’s lives by vetoing long-standing essential budget items that the state’s most vulnerable relied on–exclusively for political payback, which was eventually UNANIMOUSLY overridden by the Legislature; and
- His rampant absenteeism, nonchalant disengagement, and overall reckless neglect of the office the people entrusted him with earned him the nickname “Empty Chair Charlie” by the very Florida Democratic Party whose nomination he now seeks (Ironically, this nickname is based on a 2006 Crist for Governor ad attacking his Democratic rival Jim Davis for having a poor attendance record in congress).
However, Crist’s recklessness and mischief were not limited to state government. These also extended to the Republican Party under his direct control, which eventually landed in prison the very chairman Crist handpicked for the post:
The day after the 2006 primary for Florida governor, Crist’s minions drove from Saint Petersburg to Tallahassee to set up shop at the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) headquarters to begin the transformation of the party into a personal PR firm for Crist and a slush fund for his cronies.
To solidify his hold on the party, Crist foisted Jim Greer on Florida Republicans as their new chairman despite him having never served in any official capacity at the local or state Republican party. He was a shady character whose only qualification was being a personal friend and crony of Charlie Crist and someone who would carry out his orders and do his dirty work without question. This became a recurring theme during the Crist years.
The shenanigans at the RPOF under Crist, Greer, and others is well-documented. Greer consequently was indicted and convicted of the various crimes he committed in his capacity as chairman of the party. Just Google it for more details.
However, months before Greer’s indictment, when it was patently clear that he was unethical at best, and criminally corrupt at worst, Crist refused to expel him from the party. Instead, he ordered Greer to resist repeated calls for his resignation by Republican activists, party officers (and more party officers), donors, (and more donors), and elected officials.
Crist not only tolerated criminal behavior at the RPOF and elsewhere; he enabled and encouraged it.
Make no mistake: No amount of platitudes, rhetoric or sunny disposition by Crist while he pursues power can erase his behavior when he had it. As Lincoln said, “if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Crist failed that test miserably.
As such, because Charlie Crist is such a proven corrupt, reckless disgrace, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing as he attempts to retake the position he squandered and the office he cut and ran away from when things got tough here in Florida no thanks to his rudderless administration and perpetual distractions.
Therefore, I have decided to switch to the Democratic Party to not only cast a vote against Charlie Crist in that party’s primary in 2014, but also to do anything and everything I legally can to ensure that the Florida Governorship is never again diminished by the kind of blindly opportunistic hack politician that he embodies. I did not arrive to this decision lightly, since I have been a registered Republican since 1996 when I turned 18.
This is not about supporting a weaker candidate to help the Republican incumbent. Indeed, if Charlie Crist was still a Republican, I would be equally opposed to his candidacy. This is about stopping someone who has already proven himself to be a complete disgrace in every way possible, a man who is the antithesis of a statesman, and someone whose recklessness and careless, vindictive nature poses a real threat to Floridians. The Democratic Party can do better.
Therefore, I call on everyone, regardless of ideology, to join me in condemning and exposing someone who should NEVER be placed in a position of trust again.
Charlie Crist must be defeated.