Ethics complaint against Crist is rejected

It was legally defective, the state Commission on Ethics rules.

Published August 31, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - An ethics complaint against Charlie Crist's campaign for governor was quickly rejected by the Commission on Ethics Wednesday as legally defective.

Six days before the statewide primary election, L.G. McClure of Tallahassee filed a complaint accusing Crist, the state attorney general, of "ethical lapses" involving fundraising in his campaign for governor.

The commission sent back the complaint, spokeswoman Kerrie Stillman said, because the allegations involve election laws, not the state's ethics code. "We don't have any jurisdiction over the election laws," Stillman said.

The Florida Elections Commission investigates complaints involving violations of state election laws.

Stillman said the complaint also was improper because it was lodged against Crist's campaign, not an individual. "We don't investigate entities," Stillman said.

Among McClure's allegations: Crist accepted $1,000 in donations from Russell Whitney, a Cape Coral businessman whose companies were under investigation by the Attorney General's Office for alleged deceptive advertising. Crist's campaign said in February it was returning the two $500 donations.

McClure also accused Crist of accepting "bundled" donations from corporations owned by the same man and of receiving fundraising help from a Miami builder who is under investigation in an unrelated campaign finance law case.

Vivian Myrtetus, a spokeswoman for Crist's campaign, called the complaint frivolous.

Copies of the complaint, signed "L.G. McClure" but including no address or phone number, were delivered anonymously to news organizations. The St. Petersburg Times could not locate anyone by that name in the Tallahassee area.

Steve Bousquet is at 850 224-7263 or bousquet@sptimes.com.