Crist Revises Corruption Grand Jury Request
Gov. Charlie Crist is providing the Florida Supreme Court with a few more specifics about potential public corruption in making his second request to justices that they impanel a statewide grand jury.
The court Monday rejected the governor’s petition filed in October, finding that it failed to “meet the minimal allegations,” demanded by state law to launch such an inquiry. Firing back an amended request Monday night, Crist sought to bolster his claim that a deeper probe was needed of possible wrongdoing by government officials.
Crist added that his request followed consultations with state attorneys, the statewide prosecutor, local law enforcement officials and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“Public officials have abused their powers gained by virtue of their positions,” Crist wrote to justices in a six-page amended petition. “A need exists to examine this type of criminal activity and identify whether Florida’s prosecutors have sufficient resources and statutes to effectively combat corruption in Florida’s communities.”
Crist said that in some cases, the offenses span multiple court circuits. At other times, the crimes may be confined to one circuit, but the underlying reasons for corruption and the laws used to combat them are the same statewide.
“As such, a statewide grand jury is an appropriate vehicle to identify any deficiencies in current laws, punishments or enforcement efforts and to make detailed recommendations to improve our anti-corruption initiatives,” Crist concluded.
The governor initially made the request after several Broward County officials were charged with money-laundering and public corruption and a politically connected South Florida eye doctor, Alan Mendelsohn, was indicted in a fund-raising and lobbying scheme.
Since then, Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein’s law firm collapsed after he was charged with running a Ponzi scheme built on investments in phony settlements. Rothstein had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to Florida politicians and political parties, forcing many to spend part of November scrambling to return contributions and distance themselves from the disgraced lawyer. Rothstein was arrested Monday and federal officials filed racketeering charges against him.
Crist was a benefactor of both Mendelsohn and Rothstein. Although he did not address such personal connections, Crist said he had wearied of the mounting toll of public officials ensnared by corruption.
“Florida’s state attorneys have done tremendous work to rid our state of corruption, yet the fact that I have suspended Florida’s 33rd public official in less than three years is clear evidence that more can and must be done,” Crist said.