Election Complaints Filed Against Rick Scott and Charlie Crist
Around the State
Democrats and Republicans exchanged electoral complaints in the Florida gubernatorial race this week.
Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, filed a complaint last week with the Florida Elections Commission insisting Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign broke the law when it shifted almost $27.4 million from Let’s Get to Work, a group backing Scott, to a new group. Earlier this month, Let’s Get to Work was dissolved and its funds forwarded to a new group backing Scott.
“Rick Scott is no stranger to breaking the law,” the Florida Democrats insisted on Monday. “The Florida Democratic Party is holding Rick Scott to account for his illegal campaign tactics.”
Tant talked to the Associated Press on Monday explaining her decision to file a complaint over the transfer.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) fired back on Tuesday, as it lodged a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission regarding how trial attorney firm Morgan & Morgan is running billboards across the state featuring former Gov. Charlie Crist’s face plastered on them. The ads usually offer generic public service announcements ranging from thanking teachers to urging people not to text and drive.
"We just wanted to say thank you, John Morgan, for helping with the Republican Party of Florida’s complaint with the state election commission," said Matt Moon, a spokesman for Scott. "John Morgan confirmed that the billboards featuring Charlie Crist were still up after Crist filed to run for governor, representing a clear and continuing violation of campaign finance laws by both his firm, Morgan & Morgan, and the Crist campaign.
"On top of that, John Morgan’s admission contradicts the explanation of the Crist campaign’s lawyer, Mark Herron, who claims that the complaint is frivolous because the billboards served 'a legitimate business purpose.' If that were true, why did John Morgan order them to be taken down?" Moon continued. "'Big Mouth Morgan' let the truth slip out. Crist’s trial lawyer friends illegally advertised on his behalf and the Crist campaign hid it from ’the people.’"
Despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November. Crist worked for Morgan & Morgan when he left office after the 2010 elections and appeared on billboards and commercials for his new employer.
The RPOF insisted the billboards are an “unreported in-kind contribution that far exceeds the statutory contribution limit of $3,000 per person.”
Juston Johnson, the executive director of the RPOF, offered his take after filing the complaint.
"I guess it should be no surprise that trial lawyer Charlie Crist is being helped by his trial lawyer partners at Morgan & Morgan, but his campaign's failure to report their help is a violation of the law,” Johnson insisted on Tuesday. “Morgan & Morgan billboards with Charlie Crist's face on them while he was a declared candidate qualified as a reportable contribution.”
Johnson even used the firm’s “for the people” phrase against it on Tuesday.
“Failing to report the billboards is a clear breach of the law and a promise to work 'for the people," Johnson insisted.
John Morgan, of his namesake law firm, insisted the billboards should have been taken down months ago and refused to classify them as a donation to Crist.
Tant called on Tuesday afternoon for television stations in Florida not to run any ads from Let’s Go to Work.
“Following the law isn’t hard for most Floridians, but apparently Rick Scott just doesn’t care,” Tant said on Tuesday. “Florida’s leaders need to set an example, and unfortunately Rick Scott is just an example of everything Floridians dislike about politicians. Rick Scott just doesn’t think the rules apply to him, and that’s why he’s lost the trust of Floridians.”
The RPOF fired back Tuesday night, "Let’s Get To Work purchased the TV ads March 11. Under section 106.1437, FS, the 'Families' spot as sponsored by a political committee is a miscellaneous advertisement. Therefore, the spot has the correct disclaimer, including the required oral voice over of the statement of sponsorship.
"Instead of wasting their time and energy trying to be election law lawyers, the Florida Democratic Party should focus on winning races and figuring out how they’re going to help their Obamacare-embracing favored candidate, Charlie Crist, win in November. After all, that didn’t work so well for Alex Sink."
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.