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By TIM GRANT
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2000
TAMPA -- While both candidates in the hard-fought race for state Senate District 13 have accused each other of running negative campaigns, one is now asking local television stations to drop an attack ad paid for by the opposing party.
Democrat Kathy Castor said Wednesday that the most recent television ad launched by her Republican opponent, Victor Crist, is a "scurrilous, scandalous, flat-out lie."
Castor asked the law firm Morgan Colling & Gilbert to write letters to the four network television stations in the Tampa Bay area demanding that they stop airing a Crist ad linking her to a nursing home chain that paid a record fine for Medicare fraud.
"Please consider this to be your formal notice," said the letter written by attorney John B. Morgan. "The ad should be withdrawn from broadcast immediately."
Wayne Garcia, a spokesman for the Crist campaign, said the ad is true and that Castor is getting a dose of her own medicine.
"She has spent the past four weeks demonizing Victor Crist and distorting his record on crime and education," Garcia said. The latest ad attacking Castor says that the law firm in which Castor was a partner, Broad & Cassel, "represented nursing homes guilty of the largest Medicare fraud in history."
Paid for by the Florida Republican Party, the ad depicts a female senior citizen in a heart-to-heart talk with viewers. After she praises Crist for fighting abuse and neglect in Tampa Bay area nursing homes, the woman scolds Castor for supporting a bad nursing home company.
Castor said the ad is alluding to a case against Beverly Enterprises involving 10 California nursing homes that forced the company to pay a $175-million fine for fraud, the largest ever paid in a federal nursing home fraud case. She said that at the time, the company was represented by a Washington, D.C., law firm unrelated to Broad and Cassel.
Castor, who resigned from the firm to run her campaign, said Broad and Cassel has worked as a lobbyist in Tallahassee for Beverly Enterprises on other matters, but that she has done no work for the company.
"We have tried to stay focused on the issues, . . . but now Victor Crist is making his personality an issue," Castor said. "This is another example of his grandstanding, irresponsibility and extremism."
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