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Of Brooks Brothers problems and debate-ducking; Connie Mack hit from right and left

Rep. Connie Mack will probably cruise to vcictory in the Aug. 14 Republican primary, but Democrats and his fellow Republicans aren't letting him rest on his likely laurels.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

A Jacksonville lawyer has filed an FEC complaint against Connie Mack's campaign for allegedly violating federal election law through the purchase of Brooks Brothers clothing.

The purchases, about $470, were reported last week by the Buzz. Mack's campaign has blamed it on an unnamed staffer and said the charge was taken care of.

Attorney Clyde Collins -- former Duval County Democratic chairman -- said in a news release that he filed the complaint because the Connie Mack improperly "obtained expensive and personal clothing with federal campaign funds in violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). Connie Mack is well aware that federal campaign funds cannot be used for personal clothing for a federal candidate. Other House members such as Rep. Andrews and Rep. Sanchez, have been cited for similar federal campaign violations."

“There is no excuse for this conduct," Collins said in the release. "Campaign finance laws are not optional. If Connie Mack can’t abide by the law, how can we trust him to be a lawmaker?”

Mack campaign spokesman David James responds: "Sadly, Bill Nelson wants to now debate a staffer that made a stupid mistake instead of discussing how he cast the deciding vote on ObamaCare or why he votes in LockStep with President Obama 98 percent of the time. It just goes to show yet again how totally disconnected Bill Nelson is from the real issues and concerns of Floridians."

James refused to name the staffer or say what was purchased. "The problem is solved and will reflect in the next report," he wrote in an e-mail.

"Debate," you say? Well, Republican challenger and former Rep. Dave Weldon has something to say about that. He's criticizing Mack for refusing to debate. Weldon's camp put together this web ad highlighting the matter (*nit: It calls the Tampa Bay Times the "Tampa Bay Tribune"). Assuming the mocking of Mack doesn't hurt him, the web ad actually pushes Mack to the political center by criticizing him for not taking enough conservative positions on abortion and stem cells.