Judicial Watch • Fla. Gov. Bills State For Luxury European Trip

Fla. Gov. Bills State For Luxury European Trip

Fla. Gov. Bills State For Luxury European Trip

DECEMBER 08, 2008

In the midst of his state’s worsening financial crisis, Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for first-class travel to Europe with an entourage. 

A south Florida newspaper reports that Crist billed the ailing Sunshine State $430,000 for the 12-day trip to London, Paris, St. Petersburg and Madrid to supposedly drum up much-needed business with companies in those countries. In the meantime, his state is in the hole with a budget deficit of $2 billion. 

The trip was originally forecasted to cost around $250,000 but Crist and his posse of more than two dozen—including a personal photographer, nine bodyguards and a spokeswoman—blew off the budget. The perfectly tanned and notoriously fit governor also brought along his fiancé and future sister-in-law.

The clan flew first class, dined only at luxury eateries and stayed at the fanciest hotels which in some cases cost taxpayers in excess of $2,000 a night for a lavish suite. The governor’s body guards alone spent nearly $150,000 in meals, hotels and transportation. 

Other costs include about $8,000 in first-class plane tickets, room service and mini bar tabs in excess of $1,300, more than $600 on dry cleaning and $320 on electric fans to keep the governor cool while giving speeches. 

The state’s Law Enforcement Commissioner tagged along to sign a crime-solving agreement with British police and billed taxpayers $5,135 for less than 12 hours of official duties during four days.

Dozens of Florida business executives and lobbyists also went on the trip, including a pair of executives with ties to the sugar industry which was negotiating a multi billion-dollar deal with the state at the time. They paid their own way however, and picked up the tab for some of Crsit’s expenses.  

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