Politics & Government

Use of private planes by Florida's Crist draws questions

TALLAHASSEE — Despite pledging to run the most open administration in Florida history, Gov. Charlie Crist will not fully disclose details of his political travel on private jets owned by special interests and wealthy Republican Party donors.

By law, he doesn't have to. But Crist has raised expectations by stressing total transparency in government and by requiring staff members to abide by higher ethical standards than the law requires.

In his two years in office, Crist has flown to events on planes belonging to Harry Sargeant, a Boca Raton businessman whose contracts to send fuel to troops in Iraq have been questioned by Congress; Dick Mandt of Tampa, a former publisher of shopper newspapers; and Daytona Beach home builder Mori Hosseini, among others. All are Republican Party fundraisers.

Taxpayers did not pay for those excursions. The owner donated the flight's cost to the party or the party reimbursed the plane's owner.

''The reporting of that is all adhered to in accordance with the disclosure laws the party abides by,'' Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac said.

"And when the governor travels for personal reasons, he personally pays for that travel.''

The Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reported Sunday that Crist has used private jets more than 100 times during the past two years.

His office said Crist uses corporate jets to fly to political events, and flies commercial at his own expense on personal trips, such as to his condominium in St. Petersburg.

The governor's office did not acquiesce to the newspaper's request that Crist document how he paid for all his travel.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com