“Hispanics In Louisiana, Florida Elections”
November 4th will see myriad candidates in both parties in different states fall to voter perceptions of out and out corruption. Two in particular come to mind, a Louisiana Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Florida Democrat (formerly Independent and before that a Republican governor, state attorney general and state senator) Charlie Crist who is running for governor again.
Hispanic voters in both states could elect or defeat these two politicos.
Their “corruption” is basically the same and revolves around free or donated executive jet plane rides.
In Senator Landrieu’s case, she stole $34,000 worth of charter plane rides around the South that her campaign or personal accounts should have paid for; they were in fact paid for with taxpayer money. Forty-three trips costing $34,000 since 2002. No one knows if she stole any taxpayer-paid-for plane rides between her 1996 election and 2002 when rules were adjusted by the government. Chances are she used charter planes illegally paid for with public money for those six years.
Give her credit, after being nailed by Republican opponents about her flying around on the taxpayer’s dime, she commissioned a law firm, Perkins Coie, to audit her travel expenses since 2002. They found 43 instances of travel that should not have been paid by tax payer money.
One wonders how many more flights would have been discovered by an outside auditor or the Government Accounting Office.
She, of course, apologized and turned over a check for the $34,000 after announcing the audit and check late on a Friday afternoon when Congress is home, not in Washington.
Does the story end there? No. It seems that her constituents aren’t that happy about her 12 year-long rip-off of their hard earned tax money. Polls taken after this damning information was released show Senator Landrieu running behind.
In Florida the situation is different because Democrat governor nominee (former governor) Charlie Crist hasn’t been officially caught by any governmental agency or through a personal admission or audit. He simply glosses over charges that he benefited by possibly millions of dollars in free plane rides by criminals serving time in jail or office seekers he appointed to office.
When Charlie was elected Florida’s Attorney General (AG) in 2002, his minions stopped a two-year long investigation into the business affairs of boy band promoter Lou Perlman of Orlando. A Crist appointed deputy attorney general personally ended the Perlman investigation and announced that he had looked over two years worth of investigation and found “no violations of law.”
Perlman contributed up to $10,000 to Charlie’s AG campaign and let AG Crist use his private skyboxes in Orlando and Miami and jetted Charlie around on his private jet at no cost. Once, when someone noticed, Charlie wrote a check for $450 to pay for the air fare using a commercial rate one would have paid to a regular airline. But that was just once. How many other free trips did Charlie receive from Perlman?
“No violations of law” was the declaration by Charlie’s assistant AG when he closed the case on Perlman. Funny, Ha, Ha! Crist closed the case and the United States Attorney announced a 28 count indictment that was so complete that Perlman pled guilty and is in prison for 25 years. But Charlie couldn’t find any “violations of law” by his friend and contributor Perlman.
Fast forward four years and Republican Charlie Crist runs for governor to replace term-limited Jeb Bush and Charlie wins.
Back to free air plane rides.
In his first two years as governor, Charlie used over 100 free flights around the state that he never accounted for with names, dates and cost. He never claimed them as campaign donations, nor on his income tax forms as gifts. It took a massive multi-reporter effort by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel to pinpoint who “donated” the flights to Charlie.
Three specific men paid for most of the trips. Charlie appointed one to the governing board of the University of Florida; he appointed another to the governing board of Charlie’s alma mater, Florida State University (FSU) and his wife was appointed by Charlie to the governing board of Daytona State College. The third man is a fraternity brother of Charlie’s from FSU and he negotiated state contracts with Charlie’s administration for his oil business.
He has also been raked over the congressional coals by congressional committees for charging excessive prices for oil/aviation gas for use by our troops in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. He also allegedly bribed Jordanian officials to name him and his Jordanian partner as the only licensed transporter through Jordan to Iraq as required by U.S. government regulations.
Will voters cast their ballots on November 4th for Senator Landrieu as a reward for ripping them off for 12 years? Will Florida’s one-million Hispanic voters reward Charlie Crist for hiding his millions of dollars in free flights by people he appointed to high office or rented out state properties to?
We’ll find out November 4.
Contreras’ newest book, CHAIN GANG CHARLIE: THE CHARLIE CRIST UNAUTHORIZED POLITICAL STORY is available at amazon.com