Sen. Gaetz trashes Crist at Cabinet meeting on oil leak responseby Dara Kam | May 25th, 2010
GOP Senate leader Don Gaetz blasted Gov. Charlie Crist at this morning’s Cabinet meeting for failing to adequately respond to a possible economic crisis in the Panhandle caused by the thousands of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico each day.
“It’s in days like this that I miss Jeb Bush,” Gaetz, R-Destin, told reporters after criticizing the governor during an impromptu Cabinet appearance.
Gaetz demanded that Crist do something with the $25 million British Petroleum gave the state to advertise that the state’s beaches are clean and the fishing season is in full swing.
“I’ve been getting confusing answers out of the governor’s office for days. There’s been no response to President Atwater’s letters asking for specificity. Where’s this money? How’s it being deployed?
We’ve not seen a timely response. We’ve not seen an effective response. And jobs are being lost as a consequence,” a frustrated Gaetz said.
Gaetz said that informal reports show that hotel bookings at Panhandle resorts dropped from 80 percent last year to between 20 and 30 percent.
“That’s substantial,” he said.
Gaetz criticized Visit Florida’s $2 million emergency ad campaign launched this weekend.
“It’s day 35. We have not had an effective, timely response yet to deploy resources that the state has now…Instead we have two poorly crafted ads that were thrown together it seemed to me at the last minute in somebody’s basement,” Gaetz said.
Gaetz also bashed the newly independent Crist, renowned for his adept use of the media, for failing to use his bully pulpit to draw tourists to the state still unaffected by the oil spill.
“The governor of Florida is a national media figure by virtue of his position. And Charlie Crist is a national media figure by virtue of the way that he’s used the media and his political positions. My question would be, if I was a reporter, show me the number of requests that Gov. Crist has made to be on national media to talk about the fact that Florida is open for business. I think the bully pulpit ought to be used. It’s in days like this that I miss Jeb Bush,” Gaetz said.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole, in charge of the state’s preparation for the disaster, will give an update on the Deepwater Horizon situation shortly, as will Visit Florida President Chris Thompson.