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    Education commissioner faces 2nd ethics complaint

    By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Tallahassee Deputy Bureau Chief
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 24, 2002


    TALLAHASSEE -- A second ethics complaint has been filed against Education Commissioner Charlie Crist over his travels and handling of campaign money in his race for attorney general.

    The seven-page complaint by Dan Hendrickson, a lawyer, lobbyist and campaign finance reform advocate, was filed Wednesday at the Florida Elections Commission.

    Hendrickson accuses Crist of violating the law by not disclosing the expenditures related to campaign fundraisers, using private airplanes for less than fair market cost, and omitting a required disclaimer on political ads that say the contents were approved by the candidate.

    Hendrickson said Crist's campaign report deliberately tried to conceal the premature contributions by listing them out of chronological order to avoid detection. "This establishes that the conduct was willful," Hendrickson wrote.

    The first complaint accused Crist of reporting seven campaign checks for $500 each on April 3 and April 5 of last year, but he did not open his campaign account until April 6. State law forbids a candidate from receiving contributions before designating a treasurer and opening an account.

    Crist could not be reached for comment.

    Crist, whose job of education commissioner will be eliminated in 2003, is one of three Republican candidates for attorney general.

    One opponent, state Sen. Locke Burt of Ormond Beach, said: "Charlie Crist doesn't know or doesn't care what the law is. He's been cavalier about ignoring it, and I don't think he's fit to be attorney general."

    The other, Solicitor General Tom Warner, said the accusations raise "some doubt about his capabilities. I'm sure everybody ends up making a mistake here or there and it happens in campaigns, but if there is a repeated pattern, it does raise a question whether he's made himself knowledgeable about his responsibilities."

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