Scott and Crist Using the Same Ponzi Scammer in Commercials: A PolitiFact-Check

Sep 29, 2014
Originally published on September 13, 2014 12:30 pm

The battle for the Florida governor's office is fully engaged now.  

And, oddly, both Republican Governor Rick Scott and his challenger, Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, appear to be using some of the same ammunition.

Both the Republican Party of Florida and the Crist campaign have recently cited convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein in ads slamming their opponent.

The Republican Party of Florida was the first to use Rothstein in an ad targeting Crist's connections to the man who is now serving a 50 year sentence.

The ad said Rothstein "gave hundreds of thousands of campaign cash to control Crist’s appointments of key state judges."

"PolitiFact Florida rated this one half true," said PolitiFact's Josh Gillin. "Scott Rothstein was well know for giving political contributions. He gave millions of dollars to both Republicans and Democrats. And he gave a lot of money to Charlie Crist.  And Charlie Crist did appoint him to the nominating commission for the Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach."

But did Rothstein control judicial appointment there?

"We talked to a number of people who were on that panel," Gillin explained. "They remember Rothstein as a kind of wannabe big shot who liked to talk about how much money he had and how much influence he had. They don't remember Rothstein having all that much influence. He showed up. He voted on a couple of people. But as to whether he had any undue influence, there was no record of that at all."

Charlie Crist followed the Republican Party of Florida ad with his own commercial, trying to connect Governor Scott with Rothstein.

That ad said that Scott has "teamed up with a felon convicted of running a Ponzi scheme to smear Charlie Crist."

"We found this one false," said Gillin. "As to whether or not Scott knew Rothstein at all, there's no evidence of that whatsoever and we think this is just some kind of hyperbole that says they are using that attack and not that Scott and Rothstein were in cahoots together, so we called it false."

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