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RPOF to TV stations: Take down that ad

The Republican Party of Florida wants TV stations to stop airing one of Charlie Crist's ads.

The TV spot has drawn scrutiny because it was shot at Crist's alma mater, St. Petersburg High School, in violation of school board policy.

The Florida GOP also says the ad violates a state law prohibiting candidates from using government resources to further their candidacy. 

On Thursday, the party asked Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego to get involved.

The district reached out to Crist.

"The school district's legal office has reached out to Mr. Crist's campaign headquarters and has asked that campaign officials cease running the ad," school district spokeswoman Donna Winchester wrote in a statement. "The school district is taking this opportunity to clarify this particular School Board policy to all Pinellas County Schools employees."

Winchester conceded that a district administrator had given the Crist campaign permission to film at the school, but called the decision "an error in judgment."

On Friday, the party appealed directly to the television stations.

"Now that you are aware of the express wishes of Pinellas County schools and the Crist campaign’s apparent violations of Florida law in filming this ad, we request that you cease airing the ad immediately," RPOF Executive Director Juston Johnson wrote to stations in Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

The Crist campaign responded by providing a June 10 letter from St. Pete High's Assistant Principal for Facilities Darlene Lebo, acknowledging that the school had given them access to the campus for the purpose of filming a video. 

"This was done free of charge," Lebo wrote. "This is a service we would offer and provide to any candidate regardless of political affiliation."

Crist spokesman Brendan Gilfillan also noted a kerfuffle involving on-duty police officers who attended a campaign event for Republican Gov. Rick Scott last month.

"Unlike Rick Scott, who misled police officers to get them to participate in a campaign event, we requested and received permission from the school to shoot the ad," Gilfillan said. "The real reason the Scott campaign doesn't want Floridians to see this ad is because the truth hurts and they don't want folks to know that Rick Scott cut education by $1.3 billion and slashed Bright Futures scholarships in half."

Read the documents below.

Download RPOF_letter

Download StPeteHighLetter