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Florida governor was investigated and cleared in 2001 flight flap

Charlie Crist has faced questions in the past about his use of private aircraft.

In 2001, the state Ethics Commission investigated whether Crist, then Florida's education commissioner, violated gift laws by accepting a flight to Washington on a developer's corporate jet. The commission ultimately cleared Crist.

Two months after the Jan. 23, 2001 trip, the developer, Alfred Hoffman of WCI Communities in Bonita Springs, declared the $563 flight an in-kind contribution to the Republican Party of Florida.

Crist told the commission he and Hoffman never discussed cost or payment of the flight from Tallahassee to Washington, where Crist attended an education meeting at the White House.

Hoffman told investigators that after the trip, Crist informed him he was facing criticism for the flight. "Mr. Hoffman acknowledged that they jointly decided that designating the flight as an in-kind donation to the party was a good method to deal with the criticism," commission records state.

The two gave different accounts of how the flight came about: Crist said Hoffman offered WCI's jet, which was traveling to Washington anyway. Hoffman said Crist or someone from his staff called his office the day before the trip and asked if he had a jet available.

Crist stayed in Washington overnight and returned the next day on a commercial plane.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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