Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s nasty habit of ‘flip flopping” may now be getting him in financial trouble as Republican’s who donated to Crist’s campaign when he was running as a GOP candidate are suing to get their money back.
It was March 28th when the Florida governor assured Chris Wallace and Florida voters that he would not run as an independent.
WALLACE: Speaking of these questions about your political future, there have been persistent rumors in Florida that you are so far behind, at least currently, in the polls — double digits to Mr. Rubio — that you may run instead as an independent.
Here is your chance to dispel all the rumors. Are you willing to pledge right here, right now that you will run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and not run as an independent?
CRIST: I’m running as a Republican. I’m very proud to be from the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, others that really have stood up for the principles of our party, like Ronald Reagan.
This is a great party. It has a great future. We have a great opportunity to win in November. It’s important that we put a candidate up that can win in November.
WALLACE: So are you ruling out that you will file as an independent by the April 30th deadline?
CRIST: That’s right. That’s right. I’m running as a Republican.
Only two weeks later Crist announced that he was going to run as an independent leaving many of his Republican party supporters feeling as if the took their money under false pretenses. Two of his supporters have filed suit in Florida to force Crist to return their money and have asked the judge to declare it a class action suit. If the judge agrees the suit could be widened to include at least 2,000 Republican donors who contributed $7.5 million before Crist changed affiliations.
“Even a gift is subject to return,” said Grady, who is representing donors Linda Morton of Naples, who gave $500, and former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas John Rood of Jacksonville, who contributed $4,800. “Gifts often have strings attached.”
In general, federal law allows a candidate to use contributions for any legal purpose — even giving it to a politician of another party — but Morton and Rood are hoping to prevail under state contract law.
Crist attorney Scott Weinstein said it’s impossible to define a class of contributors because people have many different reasons for giving money to politicians He has submitted affidavits from some Crist donors who say they want no part of such a lawsuit and want Crist to use the money as he sees fit.
“How do they establish what everybody was thinking? They cannot,” Weinstein said. “The individual issues in this case are everything. It’s not just formulaic.”
Schoonover said he plans to rule on the class action request by Thursday.
The plaintiffs are looking to get the case decided before the election when most probably Crist will have spent all of the money. It is their contention that the Florida Governor broke a contract when he switched parties.
“They should have a choice,” Grady said. “It should be made by the people who contributed the money, instead of the politicians who accepted it.”