Carlos Beruff, the primary challenger to Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, was called out Wednesday night for attending a Charlie Crist fundraiser after the former Florida governor left the Republican party, according to video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Beruff supported Crist after he mounted an independent bid against Rubio six years ago, attending a 2010 fundraiser for the ex-governor’s campaign even though he had already severed membership with the GOP.
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A reporter confronted Beruff about the appearance after an event Wednesday hosted by the Pasco Federated Republican Women’s Club. Beruff brushed the question aside.
"I know that back in 2010 when Charlie Crist was running against Rubio for the Senate seat and Charlie was the Independent, Marco was the Republican, you attended one of Charlie’s fundraisers," the reporter said.
"I have lots of friends that invite me to very nice houses and I went," Beruff intervened.
Beruff gave two donations totaling $4,800 to Crist’s campaign in 2009, according to FEC filings. Nearly a year later, Crist announced he was abandoning the Republican party to run against Rubio as an independent candidate.
Several Republicans demanded and received refunds for their donations after Crist switched parties, Beruff did neither.
Instead, he attended the 2010 Crist fundraiser at the home of his friend Gary Kompothecras, a Florida chiropractor who came under scrutiny by the FBI and Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud in 2011 over business practices.
"If Dr. Gary invites me to something at his house, I go, unless I am out of town," Beruff told the reporter Wednesday. "He’s a good friend, even though we don’t share political roadways all the time."
The reporter countered: "Even though, of course Marco was the Republican candidate at the time?"
Beruff responded that he stopped donating to Crist after the former governor left the GOP, telling the reporter to "follow the money."
Beruff will face off against Rubio in the Republican Senate primary Aug. 30. The former Republican presidential candidate is leading Beruff by more than 60 points—71 percent to seven percent, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
Rubio, who entered the race last week after walking back an earlier pledge that he wouldn’t run for reelection, has already moved to point out Beruff’s support for Crist in the 2010 Senate race.
"He’ll have to answer for that," Rubio told Politico the day of his announcement.