The Rick Scott campaign and state Republican Party, eager to find any form of scandal they can pin on Charlie Crist, have been taking some wild swings lately, a couple of them directed at faux scandals about Crist’s and his wife’s residences.
One of the wild swings came from the new state GOP chairman, Leslie Dougher.
“Where in the world is Charlie Crist?” was the headline on the Scott campaign’s most recent Crist revelation.
The revelation: The woman who owns the St. Petersburg waterfront condo Crist has rented for years had applied for a homestead exemption on it. Because rental property doesn’t qualify for a homestead exemption, that suggested there was a false homestead application, or that Crist wasn’t living there any more.
An email from Scott campaign spokesman Matt Moon raised ominous questions:
“Where is Charlie Crist’s official permanent residence? Has Charlie Crist failed to change his address with the DMV and with the Supervisor of Elections in a timely fashion? Did he list the wrong address on his qualification papers, including his financial disclosure? (See Florida Statutes, Chapter 97.1031.)”
The explanation was a bit less sensational. According to the Crist campaign -- and a couple of published reports -- the condo owner decided she wanted to move in, which she did when his lease expired in June. He moved to another unit in the same building at 1 Beach Dr. Crist also has rented a place in Fort Lauderdale because of numerous campaign stops in South Florida, he has told reporters.
That hasn’t stopped the Republicans from continuing to push out news releases.
“Where in the world is Charlie Crist -- Day 4,” was the most recent headline, complete with video of a GOP tracker at a Crist news conference shouting persistent questions about where he lives.
That follows July revelations from the state GOP about the sale of Crist’s wife’s former residence on Fisher Island.
“BREAKING: Uncovered – Charlie Crist Signature on Sale of Miami Property Never Before Reported” read the bright red headline on a statement from Dougher reporting the party had found Crist’s name on the deed for the sale of the property.
“Why was this home never reported before on Charlie Crist’s financial disclosure paperwork?” Dougher demanded. “Why was the sale of this home never reported on his income taxes? Was Charlie part owner of this home to help establish a homestead exemption in Florida?”
Again, the answers aren’t complicated or mysterious. Crist’s wife owned the place before they got married and had a homestead exemption on it. According to real estate lawyer Todd Marks, that meant her spouse’s name had to be on the sale deed even though he had no financial interest in the property.
Previous deeds on the property, when Carole Crist and her former husband bought it and when he deeded it to her after their breakup, which would have shown an interest in by Crist, don’t bear his name.
After sending out news releases on the Fisher Island deed, the party followed up with calls to reporters urging them to investigate and report on the issue.