Bad Times Charlie

Who is this guy Charlie Crist?

During the past few weeks, he's made headlines for all the wrong reasons. He flip-flopped on his anti-offshore drilling stance to prove he was vice presidential material. He's buying out U.S. Sugar for a whopping $1.75 billion. This is a horrible business deal that is burdening taxpayers with $1.75 billion debt as we fall into a recession (or worse). He pushed through a funky and ridiculous deal to line billionaire Warren Buffett's pockets (via his Berkshire Hathaway company) with $224 million of taxpayers' money. And his ill-conceived compact with the Seminole Tribe giving the Indians a monopoly on blackjack and other table games has been struck down by the Florida Supreme Court.

And now he's saying he's engaged to marry some divorced, surgically enhanced Hamptons socialite named Carole Rome. I already did my take on the relationship -- but now he's supposedly tying the knot. (You can read these three stories to see the reporting I've done on evidence/allegations he swings the other way).

The timing indicates this is really all about his relationship with another man -- John McCain. You get the sense this guy really wants to escape the governor's post, don't you? This may all work out for him, but I really doubt it. It looks like a lose-lose at this point. If he gets the nomination, he won't be able to save McCain and he will be exposed as a shallow opportunist. If he doesn't get the nomination, he'll have already exposed himself as a shallow opportunist. And he'll still be left with a state in a downward spiral and a populace that doesn't trust him and -- is it possible? -- just might not even like him anymore.

Clarification: I originally wrote that Crist has "always" been cozy with U.S. Sugar, but that isn't the case. His relationship with the Clewiston company has been a mixed bag. At times he's been pretty tough with Big Sugar. More recently, though, it's helped him mightily. In his run for governor, U.S. Sugar hamstrung his Democratic challenger, Jim Davis, with attack ads while contributing heavily to the Republican Party (hundreds of thousands of dollars). It also contributed $50,000 to Crist's ill-fated inauguration party (which the new guv ultimately cancelled out of embarrassment over its $2.5 million price tag, all of it raised from big money donors).

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman