Thursday, September 21, 2006

Charlie Crist controversies?

The previously bulletproof Charlie Crist campaign has been smacked with two simultaneous episodes of some serious dirt being exposed on Charlie and Jeff Kottkamp, his running mate.

The first controversy concerns the investigation into the 1951 assassination of Florida civil rights leader Harry Moore. Specifically, the controversy is about Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist's handling of the investigation.

The investigation by Attorney General Charlie Crist into the 1951 assassination of Florida civil rights pioneer Harry T. Moore and his wife is flawed and the probable killers were named without enough evidence, an expert in the case said.

Ben Green, author of "Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America's First Civil Rights Martyr" and chief consultant on the 2001 PBS documentary on Moore, said the conclusions announced by Crist at a news conference last month contradicted the results of earlier FBI investigations and the work of Crist's own staff.

On Monday, Green sent a critique of the report to Allison Bethel, who ran the 20-month investigation as chief of the Attorney General's Office of Civil Rights.

Crist and Bethel said they stand behind the conclusions and the naming of four long-dead Ku Klux Klan members as involved in the plotting and murder of the Moores.

Granted, this isn't big-time stuff. But hold on, there's more...

Crist's running mate in the Governor's race, FL. Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, is in the center of a bigger political faux pas his vigorous support of a 2001 state bill that would have kept the Confederate flag flying above the Florida Capitol. Kottkamp is, of course, denying that the bill had anything to do with a Confederate flag. He says the bill addressed "...historical monuments. “I don’t ever remember the flag being mentioned.”

The 45-year-old trial lawyer added: “I think it was primarily to preserve historical monuments, like Confederate monuments and World War I monuments. I don’t think there was anything to do with flags in that bill.”

It was all about the flag. The bill (HB 591) was filed by Rep. Bev Kilmer, a Quincy Republican, weeks after Gov. Jeb Bush discreetly ordered the stars and bars removed from the Capitol at a time when memories of a flag controversy in South Carolina were still vivid.

Outraged black lawmakers met with House Speaker Tom Feeney and demanded that the proposal be withdrawn to cool racial tensions. The bill sped through two House committees and then quietly disappeared.

Crist is likewise taking the controversy in stride.

“Why wouldn’t we want to protect monuments in our state?” Crist said. “I mean, I don’t see the big deal.”

I'm sure that sentiment is strictly for the benfit of the public. Internally, the Crist campaign is probably in full damage control mode, readying to address the flood of queries that this info is sure to generate. Like, how can Crist court the black vote (his strafing of Jim Davis for his vote against Pitts-Lee restitution was clearly that) when his runnning mate supports the Confederate flag? This issue may tarnish Crist's "happy sunshine" image and, with the race getting very close, may allow Jim Davis to steal some of Charlie's momentum.


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