Responding to a "rash of crimes" by public officials, Gov. Charlie Crist announced Wednesday that he wants to empanel a statewide grand jury to root out corruption.
Crist's call for a grand jury comes on the heels of multiple public-corruption cases last month in Broward County, culminating with the arrest of fundraising powerhouse Alan Mendelsohn, a Hollywood eye doctor and one-time Crist supporter. But Crist said he's not issuing the call solely because of Mendelsohn's case.
"Since I have been governor, unfortunately, I have had to remove over 30 people from public office," Crist said. "That's almost one a month. And it's obvious to me that something's wrong with the system."
Crist's request for a statewide grand jury is just that, a request. The Florida Supreme Court must approve the petition. The statewide grand jury isn't limited to any part of the state and can examine almost any case or aspect of the law it wishes for the next year.
The most recent major public corruption indictment, handed down by a federal grand jury last month, charged political player Alan Mendelsohn with 32 counts of fraud and wrongdoing for allegedly attempting to sell his access to lawmakers -- including Crist.
Mendelsohn, who has pleaded not guilty, had even claimed he could bribe Crist, a charge that prosecutors investigated and declared false. Mendelsohn this year held a fundraiser for Crist's fellow Republican and rival for U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio.
Still, Mendelsohn's political ties with Crist ran deep. Mendelsohn held fundraisers at his home for Crist's 2006 governor's race and had used secretive political committees to boost Crist and attack at least one rival.
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