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Complaint filed over Charlie Crist role in Annette Taddeo emails


Charlie Crist improperly contributed to Annette Taddeo's Democratic campaign for Congress, according to a complaint a Republican filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

The complaint, by Saul Escobar of Miami, argues that when Crist let Taddeo use an email list from last year's Florida governor's race, it amounted to an impermissible donation from a state campaign to a federal one. It also says Taddeo herself should have authorized the emails to supporters, sent after she launched her 2016 campaign last week with the disclaimer, "Paid for and approved by Charlie Crist."

Note that there's no reference to "Charlie Crist for Governor," which suggests Crist himself -- and no state campaign -- was involved in the transaction, unlike what the complaint alleges. A campaign's non-monetary assets, such as email lists, usually belong to a candidate once the race is done. In this case, that's Crist (and not Taddeo, his running mate), and he presumably could give out the list to whomever he wanted.

"These kinds of misleading partisan attacks are exactly what South Floridians hate about Washington," said Joshua Karp, a Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "As a working mom and a small business owner, Annette knows that the people of the 26th District expect and deserve better than these kinds of petty partisan attacks."

Escobar appears to be a member of the Miami Young Republicans.

However, the larger question may be whether Taddeo's campaign should have used a Crist disclaimer at all. For example, it could have assigned the email list a value and listed it as an "in-kind contribution" in its first campaign-finance report, avoiding the disclaimer confusion. In an attempt to be cautious, the Taddeo camp may have gotten more tangled than it needed to.