On Wednesday, a congressman from Louisiana was shot while practicing for a charity baseball game. The gunfire left him seriously wounded. His health deteriorated into “critical” condition.
Across the country, Republicans and Democrats banded together under a sense of unity. Violence, they said, would not divide them.
After U.S. Rep. Scalise was shot, they would come together. They would be stronger, together.
A little over 24 hours later, Charlie Crist saw an opportunity to raise a little cash.
On Thursday, the Florida congressman sent out a fundraising email.
“If there’s one thing I want you to know about me, it’s this: I represent all of my constituents (regardless of party affiliation) day in and day out,” Crist wrote. “I have a ‘people over politics’ approach.”
Crist, a Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat, then asked recipients to chip in $15 to “continue to bring people together, across party lines to get things done.”
The email thinly alluded to Wednesday’s shooting, which caused scores of politicians to stop debating and cross party lines to come together, at least for a little while. Congressmen encouraged others to do the same in the spirit of unity in the midst of a volatile and impassioned political climate.
“Listen, I know our nation’s political debates get heated,” he said. “It’s because we all care so deeply about our country. But when I vote, I vote for what’s right for the people — not what’s politically convenient.”
Politicians frequently use emails to ask constituents for money — in the last two weeks, Crist and his staffers have sent out nearly 10 different emails asking voters to pay up for his reelection bid.
Crist, who has been in office since January, is no stranger to fundraising, either. In the first quarter of 2017, he broke records when he raised $720,000 from January to March.
The email didn’t go unnoticed, though and feedback was less than positive.
“Not his finest moment,” wrote Tampa Bay’s “Reality Check” radio show host Ryan Gorman, who frequently covered the CD13 race last year.
Crist’s latest fundraising email also caught the attention of Republicans who said the timing of the email was less than coincidental — and they weren’t happy.
Former U.S. Rep. and Crist opponent David Jolly said the email was a callous move showing Crist was only focused on himself in the midst of a heartbreaking tragedy involving one of his colleagues.
“While Members of Congress have been promoting unity tonight, only a special few have found a way to raise $$ off of it for themselves,” wrote Jolly on Twitter.
Jolly is widely expected to face off against Crist once more for a grudge match campaign in 2018, though neither men have officially declared they’re in for the race just yet.
For now, Crist continues to send out emails.
“Our issues are complex and good solutions involve input from across the political spectrum,” he wrote. “In Congress, I’ll combine my ideas with others, no matter where they come from.”
Sunshine State News contacted Crist’s office to determine why the email was sent, but had not received a response at the time of this article’s publication.