The shiny new Charlie Crist-sponsored racer in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway has drawn the critical eye of the Republican Party of Florida. The GOP filed a formal complaint claiming the sponsorship's market value far exceeds the $3,000 limit for an in-kind contribution to a statewide candidate.
"Nice try," said a Crist campaign spokesman, Brendan Gilfillan, who said the GOP got its facts wrong: The sponsorship was an in-kind contribution to Crist's political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida, which is not subject to the $3,000 limit. "We appreciate them drawing more attention to the car, though," he said.
Driver Josh Wise's No. 98 Ford will be covered with Crist for governor artwork during the nationally televised race on TNT.
Wise's car is owned by Mike Curb, a musician and record company executive and former lieutenant governor of California (one of Crist's friends, Mitch Bainwol, is a former Washington lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America). The complaint, filed by RPOF executive director Juston Johnson with the Florida Elections Commission, says a previous corporate sponsorship of a Josh Wise car cost $55,000. Johnson also quotes an online post by Wise in which the driver said, "We try to get 55-60K per race."
It's the fourth election-law complaint Republicans have filed against Crist.