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Former GOP Lawmaker Stumps For Crist, Calls On Scott To Take Down Attack Ad

Sascha Cordner
Former Republican lawmaker Mike Fasano and former Department of Corrections Secretary under Charlie Crist, Walt McNeil, at a Tallahassee press conference Thursday. Both say they're disappointed in a controversial attack ad against Crist.

A former Republican lawmaker is taking fellow Republican Governor Rick Scott to task over an attack ad, and he along with another Charlie Crist supporter are calling on Scott to take it down.

Former Senator Mike Fasano and former Corrections Secretary under Crist, Walt McNeil, did so during a press conference at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee, attempting to set the record straight about the ad linking Crist to a convicted Ponzi schemer.

Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
On a sunny day, across the street from the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee, a group of young activists held up signs and chanted “Charlie Swindled Florida.”

Meanwhile, right across the street, a group of young activists held up signs and chanted “Charlie Swindled Florida.”

“It’s unfortunate to have those young persons out there, holding signs, misinformed, disillusioned, and deluded with misinformation,” said McNeil.

So, what's in the ad both sides are referencing?  An unnamed man states, “Scott Rothstein swindled a lot of people, me included. He bankrupted many families. Nobody was closer to Rothstein than Charlie Crist. I got swindled by both Rothstein and Charlie.”

The man in the ad has since been identified by the Miami Herald as a Fort Lauderdale investor with ties to Governor Scott. And, according to the Miami Herald report and other media accounts, there’s no evidence supporting his claims.

Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
Current Quincy Police Chief and former Department of Corrections Secretary under former Governor Charlie Crist stumping for Crist Thursday.

And, Walt McNeil, current Quincy Police Chief, says Scott needs to take the ad down.

“The real crime here is Rick Scott’s ads are against the intelligence of the citizens of Florida, and finally, as someone who knows a crime when he sees it, Rick Scott owes it to the citizens of Florida to take down these ads,” said McNeil.

That ad, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, has already had thousands of views, and just earlier in the week, Scott endorsed the ad himself.

“The ad is absolutely true. I mean this individual was a victim of both Scott Rothstein and Charlie Crist,” said Scott, speaking to reporter at a recent campaign stop.

While Scott’s campaign and the Republican Party of Florida have since backed down on that count, they are still saying “Charlie Swindled Republican voters and Floridians.”

Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
Former GOP Senator and current Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano stumping for Charlie Crist Thursday.

Still, former Republican Senator Mike Fasano wasn’t too happy with the ad. He says Scott’s ad would have been better off showing a scenario of a senior citizen who needed help.

“That ad, instead, portrays a victim, who by the way go every dime of his money back, who by the way, his attorney is a big supporter of Rick Scott, who’s gotten an appointment not only for himself, but for his daughter as a judge. This is as low as you can get Rick Scott with the type of ad and the type of lies that you’re putting out on the TV to every home in the state of Florida,” said Fasano.

Fasano is no longer in the Legislature, after he was appointed by Scott to take over as Pasco County Tax Collector last year. Now, calling himself a “Ronald Reagan” Republican, he says while he won’t change his party affiliation, he won’t be voting for Scott.

“I’m a lifelong Republican, and I support Republicans throughout the state,” he added. “But, I cannot support a gentleman, in my opinion, who has left behind the little guy and gal: the ratepayers, the premium payers, those who are struggling each and every day…”

Meanwhile, in a statement, House Speaker Will Weatherford responded to Fasano's comments:

“Charlie Crist swindled Republican voters and the state of Florida alike. He promised to fight for Florida but did nothing to help the 832,000 Floridians who lost their job while he was governor. He campaigned as a ‘pro-life, Ronald Reagan Republican we can trust’ and then abandoned the Republican Party when it was clear he was going to lose the primary against Marco Rubio and has become one of the most liberal Democrats in the country. And when asked what he would do with the money Republicans contributed to his 2010 campaign he said, with a wink, ‘I’m going to keep it.’ By any definition of the word, Charlie Crist swindled Florida and the Republicans who supported him throughout his career. It’s sad to see Mike Fasano has fallen so far as to endorse a serial swindler with no principles except personal ambition.”

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.