Governor's Trade Trip Draws Heat

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Governor Charlie Crist isn’t answering questions about his pricey overseas trade mission to Europe.

In July taxpayers picked-up a 430,000 dollar tab for Governor Crist and 25 state employees to travel England, France, Russia, and Spain. The goal of the trip was to bring jobs to Florida. Some say the trip was a waste of taxpayer money.

This summer Governor Charlie Crist mingled with royalty, met with foreign business leaders, and sat down with overseas journalists. The cost: 430,000 dollars. Eric Jotkoff says Florida Democrats are outraged and have asked the governor to refund the money.

“Since he’s been there we’ve lost 48,000 jobs and 150,000 people have lost their homes. It’s completely indefensible and he should reimburse the treasury.”

The governor’s expenses, including a one night stay in a 2,000 dollar hotel suite and a 1,300 dollar mini-bar tab, were paid for with private dollars. But tax dollars paid for nine FDLE agents, four staffers, a spokeswoman and a photographer to tag along.

The governor’s office denied our request for on on-camera interview to discuss the expenses. Instead, they released a statement highlighting Florida’s relationship with the countries. England, France, Russia and Spain operate more than 900 companies in the state and employee 50,000 Floridians.

Dan Krassner of the Florida Chamber of Commerce says the trip will help boost the state’s economy.

“We want to see those Florida companies add jobs. We want to see them expand and the governor’s trip overseas provided a great opportunity to get dialoged going with those companies.

And while talk is cheap, traveling Europe is anything but. One of the oddest expenses of the trip: 320 dollars spent on electric fans. Governor Crist uses fans to stay cool while giving speeches.

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