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Whatever the motivation for Morgan & Morgan offering Charlie Crist a job at the law firm, and whatever the reasons the former Republican governor decided to take the job, there’s no real question that it helped Crist keep his name out there as he decided whether to run for his old job — this time as a Democrat. Crist’s face was on billboards and he was in television commercials — as he was again this weekend in an ad that, according to the Republican Party of Florida, ran on a Tallahassee CBS television station this weekend.
The jaded observer will note that the commercial doesn’t do much to sell the viewer on the services of Morgan & Morgan. Indeed, it consists mostly of Crist speaking to the camera about the dedication of law enforcement officers, firefighters and correctional officers. The lines include this not-so-subtle reminder of Crist’s time as the state’s chief executive: “As your governor, I understood the great work you did for Florida, sometimes at great risk to yourself.”
According to the RPOF, the ad crosses the line between the business and the political. The party announced today that RPOF Executive Director Juston Johnson has filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission. According to the RPOF, the ads represent an in-kind contribution to the Crist campaign.
“It appears as though trial lawyer Charlie Crist continues to receive unreported help from his trial lawyer partners at Morgan & Morgan, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Johnson said in a statement released by the party. “Like the Morgan & Morgan billboards featuring Charlie, these TV ads are a clear violation of the law because as a declared candidate they qualify as a reportable contribution. Failing to report the TV ads is a clear breach of the law and a promise to work ‘for the people.’”
It should be noted here that Gov. Rick Scott — the Republican incumbent that Crist aims to knock off — has faced questions about whether he is using his day job to promote his campaign. More than once.
It’s also worth noting that it’s just April. The election is still almost seven months away. The accusations have only begun to fly.
UPDATE, 6 p.m. ET: The Crist campaign released the following statement from spokesman Eric Conrad:
Typical Rick Scott — attacking others — in this case a small business for making an honest mistake, while he is allowed to plead the 5th 75 times. He is the last person who should be lecturing someone else for a mistake — especially one that was thanking law enforcement officers and firefighters for their work.