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High court strikes down Crist’s bid for grand jury

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court on Monday denied Gov. Charlie Crist’s request to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate public corruption.

In a 6-1 decision, the court said the governor’s petition did not meet the minimum allegations required by statute and failed to specify general crimes. Justice Charles Canady, one of four Crist appointees on the court, was the lone dissenter.

The governor’s office filed an amended petition almost immediately.

Crist, who is leaving office after one term to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, made his request Oct. 14, just two weeks after a top campaign contributor, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn of Hollywood, surrendered to the FBI on charges he ran a fraudulent multimillion-dollar fundraising and lobbying operation.

Three prominent politicians in Florida’s second-most populous county, Democrat-controlled Broward County, were arrested in September on federal corruption charges, accused of accepting thousands of dollars in cash from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen seeking illegal favors.

Crist said he’s removed 30 public officials from office for wrongdoing during his three years as governor.