Crist asks BP for $35 million for ad campaign to combat lies about Fla beachesby Dara Kam | May 12th, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist wants BP to give the state nearly $35 million for an ad campaign to lure tourists scared off by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back to the Sunshine State.
Crist asked BP to fork over $34.75 million – $10 million more than BP pledged to the state to offset initial clean-up and preparation costs – for a “marketing campaign to counter the negative, widespread and false information potential visitors to Florida are receiving about the oil spill’s impact on Florida’s beaches and waters,” the governor’s office said in a press release.
This morning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service incorrectly reported that tar balls had washed up on the beach in Destin. Not true, local officials said.
As Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s campaign staff pointed out, Sink (the Democratic candidate for governor) beat Crist to the punch this weekend by formally asking BP to pay for the ads. Sink also asked Crist earlier this week to get the federal SBA disaster loans to help out small businesses.
It’s been an oily week for the newly-independent governor and U.S. Senate so far, and it’s only Wednesday.
Crist, who is shortly going to officially abandon the Republican party by changing his voter registration, visited the Panhandle this weekend and took a leisurely ride with reporters on a charter fishing boat to spread the word to visitors that Florida’s beaches are beautiful, fish are biting and the water’s clean.
Also today, Crist asked federal officials for an economic injury disaster declaration for the 19 counties abutting the Gulf Coast from the Panhandle south to Sarasota so local businesses can get emergency loans to tide them over until BP fills their damage claims.
Yesterday, Crist created the “Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force” to keep track of the economic impact of the disaster, something state and local officials have not yet estimated.
Crist also said yesterday he plans to call lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot asking voters if they want a moratorium on offshore drilling in Florida. GOP legislative leaders, including House Speaker Larry Cretul and Speaker-to-be Dean Cannon gave a less-than-tepid response to the suggestion, both saying it’s unnecessary and a waste of money.
And on Monday, Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum, a leading GOP candidate to take Crist’s place, tapped former attorneys general Bob Butterworth, a Democrat, and Jim Smith, a Republican, to head a legal team in charge of possible and current lawsuits against BP and other companies associated with the April 20 Deepwater Horizon blast.