by Chris Bodenner
As Florida suffers from a $2-billion deficit, the governor sees Europe:

Gov. Charlie Crist took a pricey 12-day trip to Europe this summer, hitting taxpayers with a $430,000 bill amid a sagging economy, a newspaper reported. Crist flew to London, Paris, St. Petersburg and Madrid to drum up business in July on a trip that was supposed to cost $255,000, but the tab came in much higher, the Sun Sentinel reported today. Expenses included Crists' entourage of more than two dozen, including a photographer and nine bodyguards, who alone spent more than $148,000 on meals, hotels, transportation and incidentals.

State money was not used to pay for Crist's roughly $30,000 in expenses. Business executives who went on the trip picked up that bill - which included a $2,179 a night London suite, where he conducted meetings. First class tickets for about $8,000 round-trip, room service and minibar tabs of more than $1,300. And $320 on electric fans to keep him cool while giving speeches, the newspaper reported.

Crist's fiancee, Carole Rome, and her sister also went along. The couple met Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles at Clarence House and sipped cocktails with the British Foreign Office minister.