06 June 2005

Crist botches Jeb's veto of crime bill

This past session, the Florida Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would have provided enhanced penalties for crimes committed during states of emergency and would have extended prison sentences for those who commit burglary following a natural disaster, with some sentences reaching 30-year terms. The legislation was prompted by looting during last year's busy hurricane season. House Bill 207, sponsored by Representative Holly Benson (R-Pensacola) passed the House 111-0 and the Senate 40-0. The Senate sponsor of the bill was Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres). Unfortunately for law-abiding citizens, Governor Jeb Bush vetoed the bill last week, stating that it was too broad. Ironically, Attorney General Charlie Crist, who strongly supported the bill during the 2005 session because it allowed him to look tough on crime to news reporters, was unaware of the governor's veto and issued a statement praising the "new law." Woops! That's pretty sloppy investigative work from the state's top law enforcement officer.

At 9:41 AM on Thursday, June 2nd, the Attorney General's office issued a statement by Crist praising Governor Bush for signing the anti-looting bill. Crist said, "This legislation sends a strong message to those depraved enough to steal from disaster victims. There is only so much we can do to limit nature's ability to create victims, but this new law shows we are committed to making sure criminals don't revictimize our citizens."

Apparently Crist's office was unaware of the veto message, issued by Governor Bush to Secretary of State Glenda Hood, which stated that the governor had vetoed the bill because it was too broad and could inadvertently enhance penalties for all burglars. "I am vetoing the bill because I am concerned that the scope of the bill is overly broad. The enhanced penalties would have application beyond just looting in the days following a disaster," wrote Bush. "Although the bill is well-intentioned, it creates a significant unintended consequence."

Crist's office learned of the mistake and sheepishly issued a retraction. At 1:49 PM on the same day, Crist's office distributed a release entitled "Regarding Action on Legislative Bills". The statement shifted the blame to the Governor's office by saying, "Please disregard and retract the earlier statement from this office regarding HB 207, the anti-looting bill. The Governor's Office has recently issued a revised list of Bill Actions taken over the past 24 hours."

The Governor's office later admitted to sending out word that he had approved the bill, blaming the mixup on a computer glitch. Crist refused to state whether he disagreed with the governor's veto of HB 207.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, Attorney General Charlie Crist, who strongly supported the bill during the 2005 session because it allowed him to look tough on crime to news reporters, was unaware of the governor's veto and issued a statement praising the "new law."

Haha! That is funny. Everything is so staged with this guy. What a phony!

12:33:00 PM  
Blogger BlueDawgDem said...

You'd think Bush would at least give Charlie a heads-up. Guess not.

1:16:00 AM  
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