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GOP, Democrats swap election-law charges

Both political parties accused their opponents Tuesday of violating the election laws. It's clearly a hint of what's to come in the 2014 campaign for governor of Florida.

The Republican Party of Florida lodged a formal complaint with the Florida Elections Commission alleging that the Morgan & Morgan law firm's use of Democratic candidate Charlie Crist's face on a series of billboards is an unreported in-kind campaign contribution, the value of which far exceeds the $3,000 limit on such donations. RPOF's executive director, Juston Johnson, called the billboards "a reportable contribution. Failure to report the billboards is a clear breach of the law and a promise to work 'for the people.'"

Democrats, meanwhile, are claiming that the disclaimer on a new TV spot featuring Gov. Rick Scott violates the election laws. The Florida Democratic Party said it has sent letters to TV stations throughout the state, demanding that the spot be taken off the air until the disclaimer is corrected. Scott's ad, part of a $2.2 million statewide ad buy, ends with the words "sponsored by Let's Get to Work," as a woman announcer repeats the words.

Democrats allege that the Scott ad was purchased by Let's Get to Work when it was an electioneering communications organization or ECO, which would mean the law would require a special disclaimer that includes the words "paid electioneering communication" and the name and address of the purchaser. "They didn't read the Division of Elections manual," said Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.

Scott's campaign claimed that Democrats had their facts wrong and that the TV ad buy was made after Let's Get to Work was converted from an ECO to a political committee on March 6. A committee expenditure of $2 million is listed as being paid on March 11 to Multi Media Services of Alexandria, Va.