Interview FL Attorney General Charlie Crist
and Jupiter Flag Man George Andres
Transcript of ‘Scarborough Country’ - May 23, 2003

 SCARBOROUGH: And this is, of course, where we tell you the crazy ways that local liberals and national liberals try to infringe upon your rights. Now tonight, the Indian Creek Home Owner’s Association in Jupiter, Florida, continues to battle local veteran George Andres, and they have done it for over a year because of a flag. That’s right. An American flag. A former Marine, George Andres, wants to fly an American flag on a pole in his front yard. But his homeowners association said, no. And get this: A judge decided in the neighborhoods association’s favor and now they want to foreclose on his house to collect legal fees. It’s unreal, right? No, wrong. 
       Unfortunately it’s very real. But now for good news. Governor Jeb Bush, Attorney General Charlie Crist and the state legislature have all sided squarely with Andres, going so far as to pass a law over-riding the court’s decision. So is the Indian Creek Homeowner’s Association ever going to admit they are wrong? Fat chance is what they told us today. “The association’s position has been right all along. The only issue is whether we will go ahead and foreclose on the house. It has never been about the flag. It’s always been about the flag pole.”
       So what is the story? With us from Florida now are attorneys-are Attorney General Charlie Crist, and convicted flag flier George Andres. Like to welcome you both. Let me start with you, George. You are the former Marine. Of course, Marines tell me you are never a former Marine. You are always a Marine. But you are the Marine who tried to put a flag up in your front yard and you have got judges, homeowners associations, liberal lawyers trying to evict you. What is behind this fight? It sounds surreal. Sounds like something that I have never heard of in my life. 
       GEORGE ANDRES, WANTS TO FLY FLAG ON HIS LAWN: Well, it’s a bunch of people who think that their laws are more-are over the state law. In 1992, a state law was written saying that homeowner’s associations were prohibited from prohibiting the flying of the American flag, regardless of any rules, regulations, or bylaws except if it says size, safety and location, as adopted. Well, this association had no rules adopted that said anything. And they took me into court and a judge said that the homeowner’s rules overruled the state law. 
       SCARBOROUGH: And this judge actually talked about foreclosing on your house. Taking your home away because you, as a former Marine, decided to fly your flag. And then of course, that is how Charlie Crist got involved. Mr. Attorney General, let me ask you, for Americans that are following this story and can’t believe what is happening, I understand the Florida legislature did pass a law supporting George Andres. The homeowners association and a judge denied it. Now another judge has overturned it, but I understand that they will continue to fight on. How did you get involved in this case? 
       CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, we got involved, Joe, because we thought it was an important issue. This is an issue about freedom. And thanks to the governor Jeb Bush’s getting involved along with the legislature-you had it absolutely right-and the tenacity of George, this great patriot, this great ex-Marine who simply wants to fly the American flag at his home. He ought to have the right to do so. We felt that the Attorney General’s office ought to get involved and so we have. And we had a very good ruling today that gives him that right, at least for the time being. It stopped the foreclosure proceeding that was going to happen next week, which was just an eyelash away, on the weekend of Memorial Day weekend, where they were going to foreclose on his home because he was flying the American flag. 
       And it’s unbelievable type of scenario. Fortunately that is now forestalled. Now we have the opportunity to make, hopefully, some good common sense arguments to help this man, this brave man, George. 
       SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Florida governor, Jeb Bush, was so outraged by the homeowner’s decisions, he spent last Flag Day at George’s house and he brought him a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol. And let’s listen to what he had to say. 
       GOV. JEB BUSH ®, FLORIDA: This is a great neighborhood. This flag is not offensive and the Florida legislature passed a law, and I would ask people to put aside their differences and let this guy fly his flag. Give us a break. 
       (END VIDEO CLIP) 
       SCARBOROUGH: You know, Charlie, again, you are the attorney general for the state of Florida. You are charged with interpreting laws. The governor there says that the law is on George’s side. Why then are the courts and lawyers in the homeowner association still going after this man and his flag and trying to get him out of his house? 
       CRIST: Well, it does defy common sense. It really makes you wonder, but I have to give credit again to Governor Bush and to George. He has fought this thing tenaciously. 
       It’s an honor to have the opportunity fight with him, side by side with him to try and bring about and try to right this wrong that has happened down in south Florida. But we believe that it’s going to happen. 
       SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you though, Mr. Attorney General, again, you are in charge of enforcing the laws, interpreting laws when is you look through conflicts. Tell me, what is the current status of Florida law? Is Florida law on George’s side or is it on the homeowner’s side. Is it even close? 
       CRIST: It’s not even close, Joe. It’s not even close. It’s clearly on George’s side. The legislature changed the law just to accommodate people like George who wanted to fly the American flag. You know, Marines were able to raise the American flag at Iwo Jima, but he is having trouble raising it at his condo. And that is just not right. It is something that I think we are going to be successful with. I am confident that we are. He has the legislature on his side, the attorney general on his side, Governor Jeb Bush on his side. Most importantly, George is fighting very hard on his own. I think that we are going to be successful. And on this Memorial Day, the ruling today was a great one for him. 
       SCARBOROUGH: George, let me wrap up with you with a question. Again, a former Marine, a great hero. You fought this. The homeowner’s association say they are still going to try to get you out of your house house. What is next and how are you paying for all of these legal bills? 
       ANDRES: Well, I-the first attorney I had I paid $40,000. I have been fighting this for four years. The attorney that I have now, Barry Silver, has been doing this pro bono, and he plans to continuing his fight until we win. The state is behind us. The state law is behind us. If the people read the state law and understand the state law, they will understand that the attorney general and the governor is 100 percent right in what they feel, and I know that I am 100 percent right in what I feel, because they are not going to tell me to take the flag down. The judge told me the last time, you take that flag down and the flagpole down, and I said, well, I am not going to do that. And so she hit me with $100 a day fine and I owe $8,700 on that now. 
       SCARBOROUGH: All right, Well, George, you are a great American man. Keep it up. Have a great Memorial Day. And Charlie Crist, thank you so much for being on the side of right in this case. I know everybody in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY appreciates the stand that you and Governor Bush took. 
Man Fights for Right to Display Flag
Date: 05-28-2003; Publication: Hannity & Colmes (Fox News Network); 
Author: Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes

But first ex-Marine George Andres almost lost his home because the American flag is flying in his own backyard. His homeowners association says the flagpole is not allowed and they're trying to make George pay their legal fees of more than $20,000.

Joining us now in Boynton Beach, Florida, George Andres. George, welcome to the program.


COLMES: I on the one hand think you should listen to the homeowners' association, since there are rules, but I also think it's insane that they're trying to take your home away from you over this. Tell us what's going on.

ANDRES: Well, the homeowners association back in 1989 gave me permission 
to put the flagpole up because they knew it was a state law and it was covered under the Constitution of the United States.

A new board came in in 1999, several months later, and wrote me a letter and said I was in violation of the homeowners' documents. Now I've been in that homeowners' association for a long time and I have never seen nothing in the documents. And I told them show me the documents, where it is, and next thing I know I get a letter from their lawyer telling me that if I don't take it down he is going to take me into court.

COLMES: Now do other homes have similar displays of the flag, are they all attached to the house with a bracket as the homeowners' association suggests?

And there's your flagpole we're showing right here.

ANDRES: Right. Well, the flagpole is the only one in phase 3-B, but there are 15 subdivisions in Indian Creek where I live and there are quite a few flagpoles standing in the other places because the people -- the homeowners' association allowed them.

Our homeowners' association has no rules or regulations, which the state law says they're supposed to have, and they have no rules or regulations. So I put the flagpole up to Title 36 USC-10 which is part of the United States...

COLMES: We just showed Jeb Bush, the governor, who apparently has come to your support here, had him out to your home.

Tell us what happened. How could you lose your home here over this?

ANDRES: Well, the lawyer for the homestead -- for the homeowners' association took me into court and I went to -- had a judge tell them that they could go ahead and foreclose on my house. That judge violated my state law on the homestead exemption.

In the state of Florida the homestead exemption says that there's only three ways a house can be foreclosed, and the lawyer's fee was not one of the ways that it could be foreclosed. The state attorney general's office stepped in to protect the homestead law and at that time they brought their lawyer into the courtroom and their lawyer explained to the judge what the homestead law is, and three days later the judge reversed his findings.

HANNITY: Hey, George, Sean Hannity here, my friend. You're a great American. You can live next to me anytime you want, George, and fly that flag any way you want, buddy.

I'm glad that Governor Bush got involved. I'm going to see him, we' re going to be interviewing him for this program on Friday night. I'll be down in Florida. And I'm going to ask him about your case.

But I mean, it was a pretty gutsy thing for him and the attorney general to get involved in. How did that happen?

ANDRES: Well, back in 2001 the governor -- I was on a lot of radio stations and my story was all over the United States in the newspaper.

Local newspaper that we had actually did a big story on me and it got all over and the governor had over 4,000 e-mails and tons of letters from people from all over the United States telling him...

HANNITY: How are many members are doing this to you, then?

ANDRES: Just the board.

HANNITY: Just the board?

ANDRES: My neighbors -- just the board members. In fact, there's only three of them that are doing it. I got 15 of my homeowners that belong to the association who are suing the board for what they're doing.

HANNITY: Well, let me just remind people, I want to go through just a couple of little facts here.

You got permission to fly it in '98. You knew there was a state law that says a homeowners' association cannot prohibit the flying of a flag.

That's in part there.

You've had to spend $40,000 of your own money. They got $4,001 out of your account, they took your social security checks, your pension checks, and you had to fight to get your own money back, right?

ANDRES: That's right. And they still have the $4,100 because the judge said that they could have that money. And the judge who did that was in violation of the state law.

HANNITY: Yes. Now how are you financially? Are you OK or is this bankrupting you?

ANDRES: Well, it put me into some pretty rough shape and I had some friends of mine who took care of me. But we had it pretty rough when they took our social security, took my wife's and mine.

HANNITY: But you got it back, though, right? You got your money back and you're living large again for the most part and you're just fighting?

ANDRES: Well, if you call living on your social security living large, yes.

HANNITY: I'm kidding. I'm just teasing.

COLMES: Well, we hope you have a happy resolution here. And this is crazy to have your home taken away over this. Insane. We hope we can have a happy ending to this story.

HANNITY: You're a great American, buddy.

COLMES: Thanks for being with us.

ANDRES: As long as the attorney general does his job there we'll be OK.

COLMES: All right, sir. Thank you for being on our show.

ANDRES: Thank you.

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