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McBride, officials settle ad dispute

The 2002 Democratic candidate for governor faces no penalty for a group's favorable TV ad, which the GOP called an illegal contribution.

Associated Press
Published November 1, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Elections Commission and former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride have reached a preliminary agreement to settle charges that McBride got an illegal campaign contribution from the state teachers union.

A political committee controlled by the union paid for nearly $2-million worth of television advertising that spoke favorably of McBride, who was running in the Democratic primary for governor in 2002. McBride, a Tampa lawyer, defeated former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno of Miami in the primary. He eventually lost the general election to Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Republican Party challenged the ads as an illegal contribution to McBride. Individual contributions to a candidate are limited to $500 per election.

McBride argued along with the union that they weren't illegal because the ads never told voters specifically to vote for McBride.

The case was filed with the commission three years ago, and since then, state law has changed to clarify that what the union and the campaign were accused of doing - essentially working together on the ads - is no longer illegal.

The settlement says neither side admits wrongdoing in the case. And each side agreed not to seek money for attorney fees from the other.

The settlement was worked out between McBride and the union on one side and the staff of the Elections Commission on the other. Commissioners still must formally approve the settlement, but that is expected to be a formality.

McBride's wife, Alex Sink, is currently running for state chief financial officer.

[Last modified November 1, 2005, 05:03:04]

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