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A videotaped sworn statement has surfaced that bolsters the contention that Florida Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist had a recent romantic relationship with a convicted felon and former travel aide to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris.
Last week, I reported that 21-year-old GOP staffer Jason Wetherington had claimed to credible sources that he had a sexual relationship with the 50-year-old Crist and had identified the frontrunner's "long-term partner" as Bruce Carlton Jordan, who remains on state probation after serving a 30-day jail sentence for a conviction on grand theft and forgery charges.
Crist has repeatedly denied that he is gay and, with the election looming next week, has recently become more vocal in his stance against adoption by gay couples and in support of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Crist's campaign spokeswoman, Vivian Myrtetus, responded to my questions with an e-mail: "Wild, false rumors like this one are a sad commentary on the politics of personal destruction which is so hurtful to the political process," she wrote. "This is a completely false story from a convicted felon."
Evidence, however, is piling up that he and Jordan, whom the GOP candidate claims not to remember ever having met, had a relationship and that his Republican opponent Tom Gallagher knew about it prior to the September 5 primary vote.
Much of the information surrounding the relationship came, unwittingly and somewhat ironically, from the Harris U.S. Senate campaign, where Jordan worked as the congresswoman's personal travel aide not long after his release from jail in February.
It was while he was employed in that capacity that another traveler on the Harris campaign, Dee Dee Hall, befriended him. that I obtained over the weekend, Hall swears that Jordan confided to her that he had an ongoing romantic relationship with Crist.
On the tape, Hall sits in a sharply collared blue blouse and talks about a Fourth of July outing with Harris on the wealthy island enclave of John's Island near Vero Beach.
As the evening wore on, Hall says that she began talking with Jordan, whom she had already befriended on the campaign trail, about romantic relationships. She says she wanted to set up Jordan, whom she knew to be gay, with a friend.
"He said that he was involved with Charlie," she says on the tape after she was sworn in by a court reporter. "I was like, 'OK.' He just stated his first name. He said, 'Maybe you've heard of him.' He said Charlie Crist."
She then asked Jordan what it was like to have a romantic relationship with "such a public figure."
"And he said... Charlie was apparently having some issues with that and trying to keep it under wraps and just trying to deal with it in general, you know," she said, later adding that Jordan seemed troubled that Crist was seeking counseling. "He was kind of quiet about it after that point, like he was concerned about Charlie's decision to seek counseling."
I couldn't reach Hall for comment, but Vass, who is well-known in state Republican circles, confirmed that she gave the statement and said that Jordan also confided in him about the relationship.
Vass has been a pilot for top Republican politicians in Florida for nearly a decade. He's flown Gov. Jeb Bush, most every member of the state Cabinet, and a veritable who's who of GOP bigs, including Crist, whom Vass knows personally. His company, Celtic Air, is represented by major Tallahassee lobbyist Wilbur Brewton.
Speaking from his manufacturing company's office in Live Oak, Vass not only confirmed Hall's sworn statement but also added that Jordan had told him of his romantic relationship with Crist as well and that he too had given a sworn statement to that effect.
"It's the truth," said Vass.
Vass, who is a registered Republican, said that while he was serving as the pilot for the Harris campaign this summer, he spent many hours with Jordan. He said that during that time, Jordan told him and other Harris staffers that he was dating Crist.
The pilot also said that Jordan and other Harris staffers were matter-of-fact about the relationship and treated as a fact that Crist is gay. He recounted the evening of June 20, when he was at the Blue Martini bar in Tampa with Jordan and Harris campaign scheduler Jennifer DeBord.
Vass said that DeBord was aware of the relationship - and had seen e-mail exchanges between Jordan and Crist and that the 42-year-old Jordan admitted it to him.
"I couldn't believe they were so open about it," says Vass. "I asked him, 'Aren't you afraid of this coming out?' And Jordan said, 'It will come out sooner or later, and just as long as long as it comes out after the election, I don't care.'
"Everybody knew that Charlie was gay and what absolutely floored me about it was they made no attempt to hide it or disguise it."