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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Whose voice is on that anti-Charlie Crist robo call? It's Charlie Crist's



Voters across Florida heard a mysterious robocall over the weekend that seemed aimed at attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

Aug. 15 update: State Sen. Tom Lee revealed as the source behind "conservative Charlie Crist" robocalls

"It had someone who sounded like Charlie Crist, saying, '… I stand for traditional marriage, I'm prolife, I'm against amnesty for illegal immigrants,'" said one caller on our voicemail. "That seemed clearly like fraud."

Listen to the call:


On a website tracking unwanted callers, "gd" wrote: "just received a call with edited snippets of Charlie Crist or some voice imitater designed to make him appear conservative. Despicable conservative GOP tricks; would not expect any better from Gov Scott the Medicare rippoff felon."

Despicable? Actually, the only thing nefarious about the call is its source, which is kept from anyone receiving the call. A woman at the end of the recording saying it was paid for by "The Conservative" and includes a phone number — (727) 350-9348 — that when reached gives callers the option of being removed from a call list. This appears to the connected to a political committee run by Stafford Jones, a Republican operative and Alachua County party chairman, who enjoys making mischief in Democratic primaries.

The recording itself is indeed Charlie Crist — circa 2006, when he was campaigning against fellow Republican Tom Gallagher for the gubernatorial nomination.

The full message:

"Hi, this is Charlie Crist calling to set the record straight. I'm prolife. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. It's sad that in his fourth try for governor my opponent has resorted to distortions and untruths. … Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust. I would appreciate your vote on election day. Thank you so much and God bless you, and God bless Florida."

That recording has been kicking around for years. The Marco Rubio campaign talked about using the recording in late 2010 after Crist left the Republican Party and ran for Senate as an independent eager to peel Democratic votes away from Kendrick Meek.

A spokesman for the Crist campaign called it a "shady voter suppression tactic."

"Republicans are so desperate they're not even bothering to cover their tracks: they're targeting Democratic primary voters with a robocall that's nearly a decade old, hoping to fool them into thinking it's new," said spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. "Republicans are running scared — so they're trying to suppress the vote. But it won't work."

[Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2014 3:19pm]


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