In an e-mail sent Jun. 5, 2010, by the office of Governor Charlie Crist of Florida to Crist’s constituents, Crist uses the BP Gulf oil spill as an excuse to ask for campaign donations. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate.
The e-mail begins with the governor expressing concerns for the residents of Florida in this time of impending crisis related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He seems genuinely to care that, for many, this could be detrimental to their livelihoods and that it could have a devastatingly lasting effect on Florida’s ecosystem and economy.
In the e-mail, Crist says, “Carole and I had the honor of visiting with Floridians throughout the Panhandle last weekend. We visited with fishermen, restaurant and shop owners, Veterans and tourists who had come to visit our great state. As you know we are facing tremendous challenges in view of the BP oil spill which is now threatening our shores unlike anything we have ever experienced before. This spill is now being reported as the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history. As we begin our summer it’s important that we all come together to face this challenge. I want you to know that I have and will continue to do all that I can to protect our beautiful state and navigate us through the challenges ahead.”
The e-mail takes a turn after this paragraph. Crist says, “As you now know our campaign is about putting people ahead of politics. We are all tired of the same old excuses and politics as usual.
“I need your help to carry this message to Washington. Every dollar you contribute will make a real difference, and I want you to know how personally grateful I am for your support. Please take a moment to donate today. Our campaign to change the ways of Washington has powerful and extremist forces aligned against it. I know that with your support we can make a difference and break the partisan gridlock gripping Washington today. This is a fight we can win!”
Shameless Pandering or Good Career Move?
One Florida resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said of Crist’s e-mail, “You’d think the money he’s asking for could be better spent on relief efforts aimed toward the oil spill.” He has a point. While donations will help fund Crist’s campaign, what if Crist loses the election? How will that donated money help Floridians cope with the oil spill?
That is not to say that Governor Crist hasn’t been acting on Florida’s behalf since the oil well was damaged.
Crist Works to Help Florida
On Jun. 3, 2010, Governor Crist sent a letter to the president of BP America, Lamar McKay, asking for $100 million from BP “in this critical and time sensitive effort” to help Florida through what is to come. Crist explained to McKay that, “The Sunshine State has over 1,260 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Our coastal areas host our tourist destinations, fishing industries, and many natural areas. Collectively, they generate $526 billion for Florida’s economy. Importantly, they are home to some of the most sensitive and precious ecosystems in the world.”
The governor also sent another letter to McKay on that same day in which he thanked him for the resources BP had provided Florida, including a grant of $25 million. He explained that the initial grant, which was “provided pursuant” to an agreement they came to on May 6, 2010, had been exhausted.
On Jun. 4, 2010, according to a press release, the governor announced that his request for a Fishery Failure Determination for Florida has been granted by the United States Department of Commerce. As a result, affected fisherman and businesses can qualify for economic injury loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
It is difficult to say where donated monies would be utilized better: Crist’s campaign or oil spill relief efforts. One thing is certain, though, Charlie Crist wants your money, or at least some of it, for his campaign.