Fla. Gov. Bills State For Luxury European Trip
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.