Columns

Hey, Charlie, Introduce Us to Your Nigerian Friend

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: July 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Onajite Okoloko, Charlie Crist, James Ibori

Onajite Okoloko, Charlie Crist, James Ibori

Charlie Crist's donors get stranger and stranger. The latest is Onajite Okoloko.

He makes Steve Mostyn -- the Houston trial lawyer-cum-fly-boy who donated $600,000 to support Charlie three states away -- look downright common-garden variety.

Onajite Okoloko, 48, is a Nigerian oil executive turned fertilizer manufacturer who has suddenly "emerged" as one of Charlie's biggest donors.  So far this year he has enriched Charlie's campaign by $100,000 -- contributing in $25,000 increments in January, February, May and June.

Okoloko has a $5.4 million oceanfront mansion under renovation in Boca Raton. And a connection not just to Charlie Crist's shadowy Broward pals like Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, but to Charlie's frat brother from his Pi Kappa Alpha days at Florida State -- billionaire diversified energy and shipping magnate Harry Sargeant III. 

Charlie Crist, Scott Rothstein Birthday Cake

He also has memories of 2008 and Charlie's very-Republican combination fundraiser and birthday bash at the Breakers in Palm Beach. He was one of Rothstein's invited guests, each of whom paid $5,200 for a candle. (Rothstein called it a birthday present for the governor.)

Okoloko's ties to another governor, James Ibori, a corrupt African politician serving 12 years in a London prison for embezzling millions of his constituents' money in Nigeria, has put his fertilizer empire under scrutiny, according to news reports.

I wish I could tell you I found all this out through my own careful sleuthing, but I did not. Jose Lambiet at Gossip Extra was way ahead of me. Read his exclusive Thursday story, "Charlie Crist's Mysterious Nigerian Connection Drops $100,000 in Florida Governor Campaign!" And then read the update

I Beg to Differ

Okoloko is not answering any of his five business numbers at the moment and the Crist campaign didn't return my phone call Thursday. What we do know about the Nigerian is, he spent seven years in the States, primarily in California working with energy companies and doing business with oil-rich Nigeria.

How deeply in trouble Okoloko is in his homeland is not fully known. British investigators say he is a 50 percent owner of Notore Chemical in Lagos. And the other owner is Ibori -- detested for his crimes against some of the poorest people in the world.

How close are Onajite Okoloko and Charlie? Why would a Nigerian standing in the shadow of the long arm of British law -- who does zero business in the state of Florida -- give $100,000 to a Florida gubernatorial campaign?

Lambiet answers that question in two words in his Gossip Extra story update: Harry Sargeant.

Why am I not surprised?

Sargeant, the archetype of a modern presidential money man, has bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks year after election year. In an interview in 2008 he told the Washington Post, "I have a lot of Arab business partners. I do a lot of business in the Middle East. I've got a lot of friends. I ask my friends to support candidates that I think are worthy of supporting. They usually come through for me."

He also told The St. Petersburg Times in 2013, “... I have Nigerian-American partners. I reached out to my friends and said, ‘Can you gather me up some checks?’”

Among those partners was Okoloko -- who contributed $155,000 to Sargeant’s candidates nationally in 2008.

Sargeant has always stepped up to the plate for his friend Charlie. Campaign finance records show he has donated more than $1.5 million to Florida politicians and the state Republican Party since 2000, the year Charlie ran for education commissioner.

Harry Sargeant in 2007

Harry Sargeant in 2007

And in 2006, just after Charlie was elected governor, he repaid Sargeant by making him finance chair of the state party. Sargeant resigned in 2009 shortly before one of his employees was indicted for making illegal campaign contributions to Crist and U.S. Sen. John McCain. The employee, Ala'a al-Ali, was listed as sales coordinator for Sargeant Marine. 

Federal Election Commission records show Okoloko was among those McCain refunded. He received a total $3,800 back.

Word in Tallahassee is, it was Sargeant who cut a deal with former state GOP chair Jim Greer to keep him from testifying against Charlie or anybody else -- in exchange for help with Greer's family while the former chairman served his prison time. Greer has said he still considers Sargeant a friend.

Between allegations of war profiteering and the illegal contributions, Sargeant was under a fair amount of scrutiny himself and was said to be "sitting out 2014, laying low to fight another day."

But now his friend Charlie -- still his friend, even as a Democrat -- needs help again, and a lot of it. No wonder he's peeking out of the weeds, rounding up the likes of Okoloko. 



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 


Comments (14)

Rik
3:36PM AUG 29TH 2014
As most people already know..."there is no honor among thieves". Charlie Crist is the perfect candidate going forward for the democratic alliance in Florida.

He was groomed by Mel Sembler, and is still loyal to the Sembler family (although he may not admit this fact publicly ..)

Either way, Sembler still has direct access to the Florida governors office and all of its perks and benefits...no matter which direction the election swings.

How convenient...its like Mel Sembler actually thinks he "owns" the state of Florida ;(

(I actually think that Mel Sembler has a "King Herod" complex)

That observation is only true...if YOU buy into Semblers logic....

"Get off you ASS and VOTE this November !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

- Mazel Tov
J Burkiewicz
10:45PM AUG 20TH 2014
Why anyone would vote for either one of the corrupt republican governors is crazy, vote for the good honest man for Florida Governor Adrian Wyllie.
Ken Willey
12:26AM JUL 20TH 2014
I have no concerns about Adrian Wyllie being under the influence of special interests, and that is one of the many reasons he has my vote.
REAL Florida Democrat
12:16AM JUL 20TH 2014
Let's do it right this year. Vote for Nan Rich, the True Blue lifelong Democrat who will be an excellent Governor for our state. She's been fighting to get her message in the "Media" more, but the Special Interest MONEY behind the other candidate has been attempting to run her over with a bus and blocking her at every turn, but she's a fighter for the State of Florida and they can't knock her down. She's hanging in there! Now WE owe the REAL Democrat in this race our loyalty by going to the polls on Primary Day and VOTING for Nan Rich. She HAS no baggage like Crist does that Scott is just salivating waiting to turn into a blood bath in any General Election campaign. VOTE for NAN RICH. Scott has NOTHING to throw at her except the fact that he's Tea Party and she's a Democrat. We'll FINALLY have a REAL Democratic Governor again if we ALL VOTE for NAN RICH in the Primary on 8/26 and make her our Democratic Nominee! Let's DO IT!
David
10:25PM JUL 19TH 2014
wow.. shocker. Charlie is a fraud. Who would've thought? (sarcasm) This is why I am supporting Nan Rich. I am a true democrat. I do not buy into this propaganda.... Charlie is not well liked by the democrats... just ask around. Dob't believe what you hear!
Ana Gomez-Mallada
9:19AM JUL 18TH 2014
Charlie "the Windsock@ Crist - the gift that keeps on giving.
JOE KREPS
9:15AM JUL 18TH 2014
I've been trying to tell Crist supporters who the man behind the curtain is for a long time. Their response "Yeah but Rick Scott is worse." We don't have to chose between the lesser of 2 evils. Democrats can do what's right and vote for Nan Rich in the Democratic primary in August. It's time to vote corruption out of office.
James R.
9:05AM JUL 18TH 2014
Sargeant has always stepped up to the plate for his friend Charlie. Campaign finance records show he has donated more than $1.5 million to Florida politicians and the state Republican Party since 2000, the year Charlie ran for education commissioner.

OMG Nancy you forgot to erase Republican Party!!
JOE KREPS
4:01PM JUL 19TH 2014
Political parties are inconsequential to Harry Sargeant. If Crist gets elected he will answer to one man only, Harry Sargeant.
Tom Bryson
7:28AM JUL 18TH 2014
When I ask "Why should we vote for Charlie Crist?", I frequently get the answer "He's not as bad as Rick Scott" or "We have to get rid of Scott". In your July 9 article titled "Jim Greer No-Shows His Scheduled Radio Interview: Why Would He Do That?", you described an exchange between Jim Greer biographer Peter Goldenbock and the show's hosts:

"Nevertheless, the author, an affirmed Democrat, spent much of the hour pardoning Charlie Crist -- no, not really pardoning, but painting him as "the lesser of two evils," the bigger evil being Rick Scott. In fact, when Kathy Scott pointed out that "the lesser evil" is still an evil, Golenbock said dismissively, "This is the reality of politics today.""

In a contest between two evils, the greater evil always wins. Democrats are being led into a trap.
Bob Burdge
7:18AM JUL 18TH 2014
Nancy, you got it all wrong.....Charlie got one of those emails saying his friend needs to get 100K from Nigeria to the US and if Charlie would help him get it from a bank account in Nigeria....maybe Charlie had to send 10K to Nigeria for the account number and then the money was released. Heck I get those emails all the time from Nigeria. Don't you.
floridalegal
6:57AM JUL 18TH 2014
Now that Charlie is a democrat, good luck seeing the Tampa Bay Times utter a peep about this....They will continue their streak of never endorsing a republican for statewide office in the history of the editorial page of the paper.
digging up bones
6:40AM JUL 18TH 2014
Hey Nancy keep on digging up those old Charlie bones and you'll soon get back to Bruce Carlton Jordan, Charlie's old Florida Funeral Home Assn lover that got a special deal on his criminal activities as well. Not to mention that Weatherington boy that claimed he and CharLIE was an item.

And let not not forget Charlie's father DR Crist claims CharLIE was groomed by Mel Sembler and was paired off with Sembler's son Brent for years!

OH, speaking of Mel and Brent Sembler yet another little Sembler pedophile opeartion like Straight, Inc. and Green Isle Boys Ranch has just surfaced.

In the midst of a swirling national debate about undocumented immigrant children crossing illegally into the United States, a federally funded shelter operated by Gulf Coast Jewish Community Services in Pasco County is housing boys from Central and South America and asking the county to double its capacity to accommodate more. .

"These children have fled persecution at the most terrible level," said Gulf Coast Chief Operating Officer Anne Marie Winter. "Some of them have been human trafficked into this country for sexual slavery."

REALLY? Well they ain't seen nothing yet because both Mel Sembler and his son Brent are pictured as major donors on their website and Sember is know as the king of pedophile farms, ranches and other child abuse facilities. Pulling the strings of ever politician in the USA with his Ben Franklin s!

The shelter has been quietly operating, under what amounts to a gag order from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, for about two months.

Now Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services is asking Pasco County's Planning Commission to double the capacity to 32 beds for undocumented boys ages 8-17 who have crossed the border to reunite with relatives in the U.S.

Governor Scott's office was apparently caught by surprise by the federally-funded shelter until contacted by for a comment to which he did not have any immediate response. But, after being advised what to say by Mel Sembler he released the following statement!

Governor Rick Scott issued this statement about the new influx of young refugees: "We have a humanitarian crisis with thousands of unaccompanied minors on our southern border and the Obama Administration has demonstrated incompetence in their failure to deal with it. The people of Florida, like all Americans, have compassion for the children involved. It's the adults who are failing. If the Obama Administration did its job and secured our borders we would not be in this mess."

We can't help but wonder why Mel Sember didn't bring Gov. Scott up to date on their pedophile operations when Scott was at Sembler's home on April 1, 2014 for his Ben Franklin sabatical. What a fitting day for these fools to meet. Their holiday April Fools Day!

Yes the facts support that Charlie Crist is a total piece of excrement! But, Rick Scott the Texas Bush family Oil and Hospital lawyer that Jeb brought to South Florida in 1987 to pick up the pieces of Jeb and Miguel Recarey's organized IMC Medicare Fraud and parlay it into the greatest Medicare Fraud in US history is no better. In fact Rick Scott the master denier of all crimes is much worse because he is of the "money changers." By the way he claims to work for us for one penny per month, where did he make that $40 million last year? And what is he doing drilling for oil in the Everglades? Could it be he's partners with Jeb Bush in that venture as well?
Dan Walsh
6:37AM JUL 18TH 2014
Yep... money controls all... unfortunately... only when the economy is brought to its knees will the system be cleansed and the "New Economy" will usher in..

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