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Smith says Crawford breaks rules

Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford is violating the state's campaign finance laws, says Republican opponent Jim Smith.

Smith said Crawford has failed to adequately report the rent and telephone service he is being given by a prominent Tallahassee law firm.

Crawford has been using an office at Pennington and Haben, a law firm that houses a number of prominent lobbyists, including former House Speaker Ralph Haben.

Crawford has reported receiving $1,226.81 of "in kind" contributions from the law firm for office space but has reported no telephone expenses. Campaign documents list the law firm's telephone number. Smith says he's paying $750 a month for rent and a monthly phone bill that will exceed $1,500, and thinks Crawford should be making similar expenditures.

Haben denied the allegation, saying his firm has calculated the value of the space and has created a separate account to bill Crawford for long-distance telephone calls. He said the in-kind contribution to Crawford's campaign will not exceed the $1,500 limit the firm is allowed to donate. State law limits contributions to $500 for the primary, runoff and general elections.

Haben said he has been careful to make certain that the deal is "legal and above board." He said Crawford's campaign staff has been using an office left vacant by one of the firm's lawyers who is out of state waiting for his wife to receive a lung transplant.

"We now know that Jim Smith has at least one qualification for being Agriculture Commissioner," Haben said. "He knows how to wallow around in manure."

Crawford's campaign manager would not reply to questions raised by Smith, but did ask for a copy of the statement made by Smith.

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