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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Race-baiting flier draws GOP ire

26

August

The head of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer, issued a condemnation of a race-baiting flier in the election to replace Sen. Jim King. The flier, depicting Black Panthers, President Obama and ACORN members, asks Jacksonville Republicans to request absentee ballots because they could face intimidation at the polls. The four-way Republican race has one African-American, Art Graham. The other candidates: former House Speaker John Thrasher, former Rep. Stan Jordan and St. John's County Republican Dan Quiggle. Lots of handwringing over trial lawyers, etc.

The flier is the work of an attack group, the Conservative Voters’ Coalition, which was established by a Leon County Democrat, Erin Di Cesare. Legal work was done by lobbyist/lawyer/electioneering honcho David Ramba. We couldn't reach Di Cesare, who works at FSU as an adjunct professor and has twice voted on Election Day as a Democrat, so why she's repping Republican absentee ballot pushes is anyone's guess.

The Florida Democratic Party already told the Orlando Sentinel that it condemned the flier and called on others to do so.

In a letter to Di Cesare, Greer tells Di Cesare that the mailer strongly implies a connection to the state party and that it shouldn't use its symbols, namely an elephant.

Ramba said Di Cesare is likely working on someone else's behalf (he wouldn't say who). He said he hadn't seen the flier until it was first printed on Jacksonville's political blog, but he said it was legal and that Greer couldn't prevent someone from using the word "Republican" or the image of an elephant.

"People can say 'Republican' in a mailer. It's a free speech issue. They can use pictures of elephants. If not, Pier One will have something to say about this. They use elephants all the time. ..They better start suing the University of Alabama -- they wear out the whole elephant thing."

Here's Greer's letter:

August 26, 2009
 
Dear Ms. DiCesare:
 
            The Orlando Sentinel has identified you as the “front” for an organization calling itself the “Conservative Voters’ Coalition.” The mailers distributed by your group in the Jacksonville area imply an affiliation with the Republican Party through phrases such as “Protecting Your Republican Voting Rights” and through the use of the elephant symbol. These mailers also direct recipients to submit absentee ballot requests to a Jacksonville Post Office Box, presumably belonging to your organization.
 
            As Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, I condemn both the content of your mailer and your use of the Republican indicia to imply an affiliation with the Republican Party. The state’s voting records indicate that you are, in fact, registered to vote as a Democrat in Leon County. As such, I question your involvement in a Republican primary election in Duval County.
 
            Please be advised that Section 103.081, Florida Statutes, prohibits any group from using the name or symbols of a political party without first obtaining the written approval of that party’s state executive committee. Your group is in clear violation of this statute: your activities have not been sanctioned by the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Florida.
 
            Please note as well that Florida law prohibits corrupt practices connected with absentee ballot requests, and that interference with the free exercise of the right to vote is a felony. Other laws prohibit the distribution of fraudulent materials through the Postal Service. The Republican Party of Florida is exploring all available legal options to ensure that eligible voters are not misled or disenfranchised by the activities of you or your organization.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
James A. Greer
Chairman
Republican Party of Florida 

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Marc Caputo, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 4:59pm]

    

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