A prominent ethics watchdog group claims Florida Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist has been taking advantage of pandemic-related proxy voting accommodations in order to spend more time on his gubernatorial campaign and is now asking for a House ethics investigation to commence, as Breitbart reports.
The request for a formal probe of Crist’s actions was contained in a complaint filed last week by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), and the group alleges that Crist utilized proxy voting capability 107 different times for reasons not sanctioned by House of Representative’s policies.
According to rules promulgated by the House Clerk in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of Congress were afforded the option of casting their votes by proxy if the “public health emergency” prevented them from appearing in person.
Though Crist is said to have submitted letters of explanation to the House Clerk indicating that he remains “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency, the continued use of the excuse over the course of many months strains credulity, according to FACT.
As the group’s complaint noted, Crist voted by proxy over 100 times between January and early April of this year, casting votes in person just 18 times over a span of just four days in March.
Rather than the result of pandemic-related woes, the watchdog organization contends, Crist’s absence has far more to do with his busy schedule back home as a candidate running for governor of Florida, a claim seemingly bolstered by the fact that on days the congressman voted by proxy, he was seen in public at campaign events.
Indeed, the Crist camp has not seemed terribly bothered by the appearance of impropriety, with spokesperson Chloe Kessock declaring, according to Politico, “the Congressman has two important missions: representing Florida’s 13th District in Congress and giving Floridians, exhausted by Ron DeSantis’ never-ending culture wars, a clear choice in November.”
Kendra Arnold, FACT’s executive director, blasted the congressman’s conduct, saying, “In this case, both public and on the record, evidence leaves little room for doubt that Rep. Crist is taking advantage of a rule passed for a national health emergency in attempts to further his political career.”
Joanna Rodriguez of the Republican Governors Association agreed, opining, “Charlie Crist has shamelessly abandoned his responsibility to Floridians he represents in Congress as he desperately chases a promotion that will once again remain out of his reach,” and according to recent polling, even if he were to emerge from his party’s primary, he indeed stands little chance of unseating Gov. DeSantis.