Crist Decides Against Inaugural Ball

By Victoria Langley
December 11, 2006 7:11 p.m.

Crist said he didn’t think the pricey bash would send the right message at a time when Floridians are struggling to pay high insurance bills.

Republican donors and Jeb Bush supporters danced and dined at a lavish $2 million inaugural ball in 2003. But Charlie Crist bagged plans for a similar soiree after catching flack last week for the hefty $100,000 and up donations his planning committee was soliciting from Florida’s deep pockets.

Barney Bishop is president of one of the state’s biggest business lobbying firms. Frankly he’s a little disappointed he doesn’t get to throw around some cash for the ball, but he says it was the right move.

"And I think people around the state get cynical about the appearance of money and about what the influence is going to be, so starting out an administration this way sort of puts his own sort of independent stamp on the way they’re going to do things."

Even critics greeted Governor-Elect Crist’s decision with applause. But they’re still a little skeptical about whether this administration will really be doing things differently.

Ben Wilcox with the watchdog group common cause points out Charlie Crist wasn’t shy about raising nearly $20 million for his campaign, but he’s willing to give him a little credit.

"I hope it sends the message that Florida is not for sale. Unfortunately, we know that it is and the fact that we've come off the most expensive governor’s race in Florida history indicates that."

Crist is still taking donations for inaugural festivities but only for events open to everyone.