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Crist defection could produce backlash from former buddies

We're hearing that longtime Gov. Charlie Crist supporters and perhaps a former member or two of his inner circle aren't just getting mad that he might bolt the party.

They're about to get even.

So if Crist decides to bolt the GOP primary v. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio, be prepared for emails, credit-card statements and on-the-record anecdotes that would tightly link the governor to his former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer and a federal investigation underway into the party's finances.

This morning, Jason Gonzalez, general counsel to the Florida GOP (and Gov. Charlie Crist's former general counselhas issued an opinion that no party officials are allowed to endorse Crist if he runs as anything other than a Republican - and they must ask for contributions to be refunded.

Crist called the memo "premature." Here's the FULL MEMO.

... In sum, Republican Party of Florida Rule 9 prohibits any member of the Republican State Executive Committee or of any County Executive Committee from “actively, publicly, or financially” supporting a candidate running with no party affiliation over “the Republican candidate” chosen in the primary election. Any member who fails to formally revoke his or her public support and request the return of any contributions made to a candidate running against the candidate of the Republican Party would be in violation of the RPOF Rules and would be subject to removal from party office and membership on Republican executive committees.

Some Republicans are worried about the effort, however.

"The more I think about the Republican Party of Florida’s memo the more angry I get.  How dare anyone at the State Party tell us who we can and cannot support,'' said state Sen. Mike Fasano, a staunch  Crist supporter. "This is a dangerous message the party establishment is sending to Florida Voters. It’s because of this type of bullying and threatening tactics that encouraged so many Floridian’s to distance themselves from the two parties. I was walking precincts and making phone calls as a volunteer for Republican candidates when  leaders of today’s GOP establishment were registered Democrats."

Even former state GOP chairman Tom Slade, a vocal critic of Crist ("He's deader than the day before yesterday," he said of Crist political future),  said it was a bad move. "That's going a step or two too far," Slade said. "Organized political parties can do some stupid stuff from time to time ... That loyalty oath doesn't make any sense to me."

The memo, incidentally, was written by Jason Gonzalez, former general counsel to Jim Greer and Charlie Crist.