Politics

Charlie Crist Calls for Eric Shinseki's Resignation; RPOF Attacks Him for Fundraising Off VA Crisis

By: Kevin Derby and Allison Nielsen | Posted: May 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist and Eric Shinseki

Charlie Crist and Eric Shinseki

Former Gov. Charlie Crist weighed in on the controversy surrounding the VA hospitals on Thursday but drew fire for his efforts from Republicans. Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott despite spending most of his political life as a Republican.

Crist called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Thursday. Earlier this week, Scott called for Shinseki’s resignation in light of reports emerging about secret wait lists at VA medical centers across the nation.

"I appreciate Sec. Eric Shinseki's service to his country, and while we don't know precisely what happened here, we do know that there must be accountability and confidence in leadership in order to get to the truth and provide veterans the medical care they've earned and deserve," said Crist. "That confidence is gone. I think it would be best if the secretary stepped down and allowed others to get the VA fixed once and for all."

Crist also took the opportunity to take aim at Scott.

"Moreover, if I were governor, rather than using this moment as a political tool, I would take immediate action to employ any and all resources needed to make sure that our veterans here in Florida get the care that they need and deserve," Crist continued. "I'd start by calling the Legislature back in a special session to expand coverage to the more than 41,000 Florida veterans who fall into the health care gap and are not currently insured due to Rick Scott and the Legislature's failure. This isn't an issue of left versus right -- it's a crisis that requires leadership."

But the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) noted that Crist was taking to Twitter to call for Shinseki’s resignation while asking Floridians to join his campaign with a link to a fundraising page. The RPOF accused Crist of trying to fundraise off the VA hospital crisis.

“Charlie Crist’s attempt to raise campaign cash off of the VA tragedy is a new low for him and his campaign,” said Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the RPOF. “Gov. Scott has worked hard to hold the VA accountable, while Crist has sat on the sidelines as the evidence piled up that the men and women who served our country have been treated with neglect. Crist is exploiting veterans to raise a few bucks while Gov. Scott is leading the charge against the VA’s unacceptable actions. That’s called leadership – something Charlie Crist wouldn’t recognize if it hit him in the face."


Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.


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