When news broke that Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp had a pricey travel habit footed by taxpayers, we thought it was suspicious it came only a few weeks after rumors began circulating that Gov. Charlie Crist might be thinking of resigning to run for Senate in 2010, leaving the governor's mansion to the more conservative Kottkamp. We're sure Dems were pleased the little-known lieutenant now came with a bit of prepackaged controversy should he ever find himself in higher office.
Well, the travel-expense meme worked so well that now a controversy has arisen over Crist's private plane habits. Except there's hardly any controversy there. For official business, he uses two state-owned planes. For personal trips, he picks up his own tab, and for political party business, he flies on the dime of the Republican Party of Florida. And he does so all well within state law.
Of course, there are all sorts of shady ethical dilemmas that could be happening here, except no news agency has been able to dig one up with concrete evidence. But the Miami Herald reports that back in 1997, then-state Senator Crist criticized Gov. Lawton Chiles for similar travel brouhaha. Shades of irony? Sure. Shades of controversy? Not yet.
How can you blame ol' Charlie for preferring air travel, anyway? Florida is a horrible state to travel through any other way. We suppose, unless someone finds a bombshell, the best thing that could come of this is that once in a while, Crist might actually have to (gasp) travel around Florida by car and realize what a dismal transit system we have here. Then maybe he'd get around to doing something about it.
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[Herald: Charlie Crist shields details of his travel on private jets]
[SunSentinel: Who buys when Gov. Charlie Crist flies?]