Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida now seeking his old seat as a Democrat, has received the worst type of attention at the start of his campaign: a jilted former fundraiser testifying under oath that judicial nominations were up for sale on Mr. Crist’s watch.
The testimony this week by Scott Rothstein, a onetime Crist fundraiser and prominent lawyer convicted of running a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, stunned court observers across Florida and rocked Mr. Crist’s nascent candidacy to oust Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott.
Rothstein did not appear in court for several years after his 2010 guilty plea but emerged as a defense witness in a former legal colleague’s trial. He wasted no time dishing the dirt on Mr. Crist, prompting furious denials from the Democratic candidate and his campaign.
Rothstein testified that as a fundraiser he had a “quid pro quo” relationship in which he was able to encourage Mr. Crist, then the Florida governor, to name judges to the bench in Broward County who would rule favorably for his law firm.
“For certain contributions, people were appointed to the bench ,” Rothstein said in testimony reported by local news media. “I was able to convince him to do a lot of things. He knew how that game was played. I expected him to do certain things in exchange for large contributions.”
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