Gov. Rick Scott was sure to bring allegations that Charlie Crist has changed positions to Wednesday night’s debate in Davie, including the new Democrat’s stance on raising the minimum wage.
After former Gov. Crist said he supported raising the minimum wage to $10.10, echoing a plan by President Barack Obama, Scott attacked the newly minted Democrat.
"He voted against minimum wage when he was in the Senate," Scott said. "He didn’t think it was the right thing to do, so he voted against it."
We’ve looked into Crist’s record before on the minimum wage. There’s some evidence that earlier in his career, Crist opposed raising the minimum wage. But there’s no evidence to show that Crist voted on the minimum wage when he was a state legislator.
When the Republican Party of Florida accused Crist earlier this summer of voting against a minimum wage increase, he said that wasn’t so. "I haven’t taken a vote since 1998," he told us then. That year was the tail end of his term in the state Senate, a seat he won in 1992.
The GOP told us a commercial it had run attacking Crist for a vote against raising the minimum wage was referring to 2004, when Crist was attorney general.
That year, Florida voted in favor of a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $6.15 an hour. Before then, there was no state minimum wage, only the federally mandated minimum. After the measure passed, the state’s minimum wage went up and was tied to inflation. This year it went up 14 cents an hour and is now $7.93.
As attorney general, Crist had no say about whether the measure passed or not.
But he also was a board member of the state’s public-private economic development agency Enterprise Florida, which did take a position on the minimum wage. Meeting minutes showed that on Aug. 19, 2004, the board held a teleconference in which members voted unanimously to oppose the minimum wage increase. The voice vote was a statement of principle and was not binding. Attorney General Crist was present at the meeting.
Crist barely mentioned the issue until this year, and there is no record it has come up before now. Crist's campaign did not have any response to Scott's statement about Crist taking a Senate vote on the minimum wage.
Karen Woodall, executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, said there had been voting on the minimum wage in the House while Crist was in the Senate, but there were no votes in the Senate.
Miami Beach Democrat Jack Gordon had filed a bill in 1992, but that fight ended before Crist was elected. Another bill was filed in 1994 by Howard Forman, D-Hollywood, but it died in committee with no action taken. The House filed a bill with no Senate companion in 1997, but that also failed.
The Scott campaign did not clarify Scott’s response, instead pointing out the 2004 vote. With no evidence the issue came up during Crist’s Senate term, it’s possible the governor meant the 2004 voice vote for Enterprise Florida. There’s no evidence of any Senate action between 1993 and 1999, when Crist was there.
Scott said Crist "voted against minimum wage when he was in the Senate."
Crist served on the board of Enterprise Florida when the group opposed an increase to Florida’s minimum wage in 2004. At the time, he was attorney general. But there’s no evidence that Crist ever voted on minimum wage legislation as a state senator.
It’s entirely possible Scott misspoke, but there’s no evidence of any such vote during Sen. Crist’s term. We rate the statement False.
Florida gubernatorial debate, Broward College, Oct. 15, 2014
Orlando Sentinel, "Voters Might Get Say On Minimum Wage," March 3, 1992
PolitiFact Florida, "Charlie Crist voted against minimum wage hike, Florida GOP says," July 17, 2014
Interview with Greg Blair, Scott spokesperson, Oct. 16, 2014
Interview with Karen Woodall, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy executive director, Oct. 16, 2014
Interview with Cynthia Hernandez, Florida International University Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy researcher, Oct. 16, 2014
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