Who Is Progressive Choice? The Mysterious Group Race-Baiting Charlie Crist

Categories: Politicks

Just days after launching a radio ad in the Orlando market blaming Charlie Crist for "for a lost generation of African-Americans," the mysterious political group Progressive Voice is back with a new ad running in North Florida that calls one of Crist's marquee political efforts as a Republican state legislator "reminiscent of slavery."

The thing is no one has any idea who is behind this group.

See also: The Ads in Charlie Crist-Rick Scott Race Are Getting Ugly

The latest ad rips into Crist for his former nickname of "Chain Gang Charlie." It was a nickname he earned back in the '90s for introducing a bill that would reintroduce literal chain gangs into the Florida penal system. It was a nickname he embraced during his 2006 gubernatorial race, then, obviously, as a Republican, when some in his former party were attacking him for being too moderate. (In retrospect, they did have a pretty good point.)

The Orlando Sentinel points out that at the time then-House Speaker Peter Wallace, a Democrat, dismissed the chain gang bill as dredging up images of slavery. The bill never passed, and Crist made no effort to actually reintroduce chain gangs during his governorship. He was, however, tough on punishment throughout his single term.

So who is Progressive Florida, the group running the ad?

Well, they're a group that claims to represent progressive voters nationally, though they've only been active in Florida, mostly attacking Crist. (They also sent out a mailer this week claiming that Crist and Rick Scott are "one in the same.") They're also incorporated out of Delaware, and, through campaign finance law loopholes, they'll never have to divulge who their donors are as long as they stop running ads a month before Crist's Democratic primary. They're not voluntarily releasing that information either. They say, in part, because they fear their donors will face retaliations from the mainstream Florida Democratic establishment. That's the story anyway.

The only name publicly associated with the group is Jamie Fontaine-Gansell, who is identified as a spokeswoman. According to her LinkedIn, she's based in Baltimore. In 2007, she spent six months as the national political director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. She has since worked at her own firm, Fontaine & Company.

She's also white but seems adamant about discussing important racial issues that are pertinent to Florida's African-American community, which apparently includes chain gangs.

"Conversations about race are difficult -- but they are necessary," she told the Orlando Sentinel in an e-mail. "Ours is an effort to create a dialogue around important issues that are not being discussed -- or debated -- across the country. This is particularly true right now in Florida, where residents would benefit from real conversation and debate on these issues."

The group also supported a petition calling for Crist to debate his Democratic primary challenger Nan Rich.

There's, of course, two pretty obvious theories as to who is behind the group:

  • Actual Florida (or at least national) progressives who do have real concerns with Crist (as one would expect with a former Republican) and would like to see Rich as the nominee. The problem with that is that one would assume those same progressives would be funneling more money into Rich's actual campaign, or at least created a shadowy out-of-state group that supported Rich.
  • Republicans who are hoping to turn African-American voters off Charlie Crist with the goal of lessening overall African-American voter turnout in November.

For what it's worth, the Crist campaign believes the latter, calling the latest radio ad, "a new low for Rick Scott and his special interest donors."

Floridians, however, may never know the truth.

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I would wager a bet that the group has no affiliation with anything resembling the Democratic Party.  It's obviously a propaganda ploy to turn people from voting for Charlie Crist. Ultimate goal; more of a "should-a-been felon in the Governor's Mansion.


1st of all these ads are kind off low, so please consider the possibility below;

Mr. Crist has stated that Governor Scott is going to "try and bully him with his 100 million checkbook". As it appears that we will NEVER know who placed these ads, it is possible that it could be friends of Mr. Crist,  in a extremely misguided attempt to prove the above statement correct.

I say this because, Governor Scott's record stands on it's own against Crist, Mr. Scott could take the high road in this election and  win on merit alone, he would not need to run a negative ad campaign. Further, Mr. Scott has denied any involvement with these ads.

However,  Mr. Crist has run some extremely ugly and incorrect ads against Scott and his involvement with a health care facility well over a decade ago  and further blaming him for the deaths of 40 children.

I guess we will never know, but in politics, don't rule anything out.


Someone should check out Crist old man actions served on the Pinellas County School Board ... I have heard stories about his old man and his thoughts on the world


@JeffreyLaufferDC  Where did Tea Party idiot, Scott, get the 65 million he used on his last election? He got it from overseeing the largest Medicare fraud in history. He is a crook and I have no doubt the ads are his. Look at the illegality of the 2012 election when he brought in a voter registration firm that trashed any registration forms of Democrats. Scott then came up with thousands of names of people he claimed were ineligible to vote but election supervisors found they were eligible. Then the crook cut early voting times so many voters had to stand in line for 8-10 hours. All this to delegitimize voters and suppress voter turnout. This will be fresh in peoples minds this November. Scott is a crook through and through. After the 2012 election debacle I vowed I would never vote for another Republican.


@JeffreyLaufferDC If anyone running for office committed a crime 10 years ago and got away with it, in part by taking the 5th Amendment 75 time, that would seem to be relevant today.


@Punter5 What does his father have to do with him or his qualifications?



Ginger, please review your facts. The pleadings of the 5th were in a civil case over a contract dispute, not criminal. Mr. Scott has never been charged with a crime.


Dear Ginger,

Your silver knight on the horse, Charlie Crist, is a political opportunist as documented in a revealing article published by this paper:


Crist's dad abused his position of power as a member of the Pinellas County School Board to gain favorable standing and position for his son including the removal of a teacher, a football coach, and the transfer of his school principal.

Have you ever heard the old saying that the apple does fall near to the tree? Crist learned from his dad in practicing discrimination against minorities.

Crist's actions as a state senator, attorney general, and governor have disfranchised African-Americans, GLBT persons, and other minorities in enjoying equal rights and opportunities. The voters of Florida, especially Democrats, should forget these previous actions by Crist because of Charlie's sudden change of heart (I.e. More like political party so he can assume power again as an elected official).

Let's give a chance for the voters of Florida to decide their party nominee by Mr. Crist's acceptance in a series of debates with Nan Rich. If not, you will see the biggest fiasco for the Democrat Party as voters will abandon Crist just like his failed attempt as an independent candidate for US Senate. Plus, Crist's political opportunist actions helped the career of Marco Rubio and prevent a fair campaign by Kendrick Meek against Marco Rubio.

In simple words, Charlie Crist is a political whore who is willing to sell his soul with no true convictions!


@Punter5 Thank you for pointing our this article to me. I just read it. It's only that I don't think that changing one's heart and mind makes that person a political whore; just a thinking person. I know the writer of the article wanted to paint Charlie Crist in the worst possible light, but dis-enfranchising voters, either by voter suppression or even by not restoring voter rights to felons who have paid their dues to society, is much more damaging to minorities than anything the article highlights about Charlie Crist. During Crist's governorship, the voting rights for those previously incarcerated were restored at an accelerated pace. Florida is one of only a few states which continues to punish by disenfranchising voters.

I do welcome, as you suggest, the debate between Charlie Crist and Nan Rich so that we are making a valid and informed choice in this important decision for Governor.

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