Crist Wrote Recommendation Letter For Now-Indicted Lobbyist’s Son

We knew that Florida governor Charlie Crist was tight with indicted lobbyist and fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn. The politically connected eye doctor has raised big bucks for Crist, a Republican, and in 2006 was named to the governor-elect’s transition team as the director of healthcare issues.

But it turns out the two were so close that Crist also did a more personal favor for Mendelsohn. In February 2007, Governor Crist wrote a letter to the University of Florida’s admissions office, urging it to admit Mendelsohn’s son Benjamin to the university’s medical school. The younger Mendelsohn was later admitted, even though he hadn’t taken the MCAT and had been rejected by the university’s selection committee.Wrote Crist, in a letter copied to UF president President Bernie Machen:

I have known Benjamin and his family for several years and know that Benjamin’s affiliation with the University of Florida will mutually enhance the reputation of both Benjamin and the Medical Program,” Crist’s letter states.

The director of the medical school said he never saw Crist’s letter, and that “there was no political influence related to this thing.” He called Benjamin Mendelsohn “exceptional.”

Alan Mendelsohn was a key backer of Crist’s 2006 campaign — for example hosting a doctors’ fundraiser at his own home, that raised more than $100,000.