Though he officially declared his "independence" by leaving the Republican Party on May 12, 2010, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he won't return money contributed to his U.S. Senate campaign while he was running as a Republican.The letter in question can be found on opponent Marco Rubio's site, stating the following:
"People gave to a good cause, and we're going to spend it on a good cause,'' Crist said minutes after switching his voter registration. "That's why I'm going to keep it. It's important to be able to get our message out and communicate with the people of Florida.''
The next day, in a wide-ranging interview with the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times, the refund talk resurfaced.
Dear Governor Crist,PolitFact points out that 9 of those who signed the letter did not contribute to the Governor's senate campaign, indicating that some had donated in previous elections.
As longtime and loyal contributors to Republican causes and your many campaigns, this letter is not easy for us to write. But your actions have forced us to take action.
We are both saddened and disappointed in your decision to abandon the Republican Party during this important election. Republicans across Florida and America are again rallying around the fundamental values that have sustained our party for more than 150 years. As a party we are more united than ever.
For years you have been one of the Republican Party’s most outstanding and vocal leaders. But now, because of simple self-interest and political calculation, you are walking away from the people and principles that you often told us defined you “to your core.”
We helped to support, and yes to bankroll, your political career. For years you have been asking us for money. And for years we have put our names and credibility on the line by asking our friends to donate to you. Those days are over.
As part of your transition into this new phase of your political career, we respectfully request that you return every penny of donor money from every donor who asks for a refund. For those of us who have donated to your Senate campaign, you can start by refunding in full the contributions we have made.
Recent reports with the Federal Elections Commission indicate your campaign is sitting on a stockpile of approximately $7.6 million dollars in contributions.
Charlie, that is not your money.
That money represents 7.6 million promises you broke to the people who entrusted their money to you in the hopes that they were supporting a leader who would stand on the common values all Republicans share.
Every dollar represents a contributor who believed you when you promised to serve proudly in the Party of Reagan, Roosevelt and Lincoln. Every dollar represents someone who sacrificed during these difficult economic times to contribute to a Republican they thought they could trust.
You have asked the voters of Florida to believe you when you insist your sudden change of heart is sincere, and not a last ditch effort to prolong your political career. Honoring the trust you entered into with the people who contributed to your campaign, and who are now asking for their money back, is absolutely necessary to prove your willingness to abide by your own words when you said, “I probably would give a donor his money back,” as well as adhere to a higher ethical and moral standard.
You used to be fond of quoting Abraham Lincoln. While you no longer belong to his party, hopefully you can still appreciate his words when he said, “If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
Thus it is that we hereby request all donations be returned to those of us who contributed to your Senate campaign, and call upon every one of your Republican supporters to request the same.
Bill Becker, Vero Beach, FL
Wayne Berman, Washington, D.C.
Al Cardenas, Miami, FL
Sid Dinerstein, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Ed Easton, Key Biscayne, FL
Peter Feaman, Boynton Beach, FL
Gay Gaines, Palm Beach, FL
Phil Handy, Winter Park, FL
Mike Hightower, Jacksonville, FL
Charlie Hilton, Panama City, FL
Ambassador Al Hoffman, North Palm Beach, FL
Congressman Gary A. Lee, Ft. Myers, FL
Anita Mitchell, West Palm Beach, FL
Tom Petway, Jacksonville, FL
Ambassador John Rood, Jacksonville, FL
Peter Rummell, Jacksonville, FL
Frank Schwerin, Naples, FL
Jason Steele, Satellite Beach, FL
Chris Sullivan, Tampa, FL
Jason Unger, Tallahassee, FL
The analysis showed that of the 20 people listed on the letter, only nine actually donated to Crist's Senate campaign, and of the nine -- Hoffman -- got his contributions back in February 2010 (Hoffman asked for his money back in February over allegations of excessive spending by the Republican Party of Florida and Crist's hand-picked chairman Jim Greer).Why would these individuals lie about donating to Crist's campaign?
PolitiFact Florida checked Bender's reporting by searching the Federal Election Commission's electronic campaign database and came up with the same number. Here's a list of the signers and how much they contributed to Crist's campaign.
- Bill Becker, Vero Beach, FL - $0
- Wayne Berman, Washington, D.C. - $0
- Al Cardenas, Miami, FL - $4,800
- Sid Dinerstein, Palm Beach Gardens, FL - $0
- Ed Easton, Key Biscayne, FL - $2,400
- Peter Feaman, Boynton Beach, FL - $500
- Gay Gaines, Palm Beach, FL - $0
- Phil Handy, Winter Park, FL - $0
- Mike Hightower, Jacksonville, FL - $0
- Charlie Hilton, Panama City, FL - $0
- Ambassador Al Hoffman, North Palm Beach, FL - $4,800
- Congressman Gary A. Lee, Ft. Myers, FL - $0
- Anita Mitchell, West Palm Beach, FL - $0
- Tom Petway, Jacksonville, FL - $2,400
- Ambassador John Rood, Jacksonville, FL - $4,800
- Peter Rummell, Jacksonville, FL - $4,800
- Frank Schwerin, Naples, FL - $0
- Jason Steele, Satellite Beach, FL - $0
- Chris Sullivan, Tampa, FL - $4,800
- Jason Unger, Tallahassee, FL - $2,400