Why was former state GOP executive director Delmar Johnson charging so many Charlie Crist campaign expenses on his party credit card? On July 7, Crist's campaign made a $16,676 payment to American Express for "reimbursement for expenses" that were on Johnson's card.
Crist campaign manager Eric Eikenberg said the reimbursement was for shirts, hats and other paraphernalia dolled out at a high dollar state GOP fishing tournament/fundraiser Crist attended in May. Initially it was billed as a Charlie Crist fishing tournament, but after he announced for the senate was switched to a state GOP fishing tournament with Crist listed as special guest.
Here's the thing, though: Under federal campaign finance law, state party are not allowed to contribute to federal candidates in a primary more than $5,000. And advances, loans, anything of value is considered a contribution.
"Even if a campaign were to pay the money back within 30 days, the Federal Election Commission would likely find that an advance in excess of $5,000 resulted in an excessive contribution being made during the intervening time period,'' said Chris Gober, a campaign finance specialist and the National Republican Senatorial Committee's former general counsel.But Eikenberg said the difference in this case is that "it was a party function. It was not a campaign function" and that the campaign merely helped pay for supplies and received no contributions from the tournament. Crist's campaign finance lawyer is Ben Ginsberg.
-- ADAM C. SMITH