Perhaps the only things not in dispute regarding Charlie Crist's Morgan & Morgan trial lawyer ads are that they ran recently in Tallahassee, they appear to violate campaign contribution rules and they're a headache for the Democratic candidate for governor now that the Republican Party of Florida filed an elections complaint over one of the TV spots.
Crist's employer, John Morgan, says the ads should have been pulled down long ago. And his firm has produced buy sheets from three months afo to show that WCTV, a Tallahassee CBS affiliate that aired the spots recently, was informed of such.
"If it ran it was an error by the TV station. All ads featuring Charlie were taken down the day he announced," said Morgan, a major state and national Democratic donor.
We've asked for comment from WCTV and await their response. As noted above, WCTV took responsibility for the error.
It's the second complaint Crist has faced over his employment with Morgan. The last one concerned billboards and, as with this TV spot, Morgan in that case said he had asked that the signs be removed before the complaint was filed.
The ads are a sign that Crist, who for more than a year had intended to run against Scott, effectively leveraged his post at the law firm to boost his already high name ID. This TV ad had little to do with the practice of law ostensibly and thanked two key constituencies, firefighters and police officers.
Now Crist has to deal with the fallout.
"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. 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," Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Juston Johnson said in a written statement.
Said Crist 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.”