Monday, December 08, 2008

Karen Thurman Letter To Charlie Crist

Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman asked Charlie Crist to repay $430,000 the Governor spent on his lavish summer trip.


The Honorable Charlie Crist
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor Crist,

As you know, Florida is facing a major budget crisis. After cutting billions of dollars from vital education, healthcare and public safety programs last year - cuts that hurt Floridians struggling to get by during these tough economic times - our state still face larger and ballooning deficits.

This weekend, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that your trip this summer cost taxpayers a total of $430,000. They reported that taxpayers footed the bill for your entourage of more than two dozen, including a photographer and nine bodyguards. They write about your accommodations and expenses that, “His London hotel suite, originally estimated to cost $1,800 a night, actually was $2,179, the Sun-Sentinel found. He flew first class for about $8,000 round trip, courtesy of a Miami travel agency. He ran up room service and minibar tabs of more than $1,300. And he spent $320 on electric fans to keep him cool while giving speeches.”

This news comes at the same time you are calling on Floridians to make sacrifices and ordering government agencies to cut spending. With tours of Buckingham Palace and visits to the Eiffel Tower on your agenda, it was clear at the time that your trip served as a taxpayer financed vacation. While some positive results may come from the trip, the lavish accommodations and first class travel were beyond excessive. The same results could have been accomplished should you have stayed at more modest accommodations than the Presidential suites of five-star hotels, while creating huge saving for taxpayers.

While your office continues defending your trip, claiming it has helped Florida’s economy the statistics are clear: since your trip more than 48,000 Floridians have lost their jobs, over 145,000 Floridians have received foreclosure notices, and our tourism industry has seen a major decline in the number of visitor. Additionally, since your trip we have learned that our state’s deficit has grown by more than $2 billion.

To show that you are a responsible steward of Florida taxpayers’ hard earned dollars, you should reimburse the state’s treasury the costs associated with this trip.

Sincerely,

Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party


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