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Rich's mailer uses Herald editorial that blasted Crist

A political committee formed by Democratic candidate for governor Nan Rich has dropped its first mail piece, blasting Charlie Crist for his refusal to debate her.

The mailing was financed by a political committee supported by unions, trial lawyers and Tallahassee lobbyists, who donated long before Crist entered the race.

Rich's statewide mailer is a reprint of a June 23 editorial in The Miami Herald and highlights key passages in yellow: "So what is Mr. Crist afraid of? Or is it arrogance? His refusal to debate the former legislator is unseemly and exclusionary. Of course, it's politics at its worst."

The heavy cardboard stock and typeface resemble earlier pro-Rich mail pieces financed by the mystery group, Progressive Choice Florida, that refuses to disclose details on donors. There's no mystery about Rich's piece, but there's an interesting history here, because her committee is funded in part by three statewide unions that now support Crist: the Florida AFL-CIO, Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Rich created Citizens for a Progressive Florida, a committee of continuous existence, in 2011, and the committee did most of its fundraising in 2012 when she was Senate Democratic leader. Last year the CCE's cash balance of $78,000 was shifted to a political committee with the same name (as listed on the disclaimer on the anti-Crist mailer): Citizens for a Progressive Florida PC, with a post office box from Rich's hometown of Weston (her husband, David, is listed as treasurer and registered agent of the PC).

Donors to the Rich committee included the Akermann Senterfitt law firm, $20,000; Southern Wine and Spirits, $20,000; AFSCME, $10,000; and Florida Justice PAC (trial lawyers), $5,000. South Florida gaming interests contributed another $10,000 and Tallahassee lobbyists Ron Book, Bob Levy, Bernie Friedman and Gary Farmer also wrote checks to the Rich committee.