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Fischer, Klein's campaign staffs trade accusations

The two mayoral campaign staffs were growing snippy with each other Thursday, as Mayor David Fischer's campaign accused the Bill Klein campaign of election law violations.

"How many times do we have to see the campaign laws shunted aside before we see some coverage? . . . Klein is running fast and loose with the campaign laws," said Wayne Garcia of Repper, Garcia & Associates, Fischer's political consultants.

Garcia complained of political disclaimers missing from a photocopied newspaper column distributed by Klein supporters and from an endorsement letter for Klein sent to St. Petersburg lawyers by lawyer Anthony Battaglia. "This is bull----," Battaglia said, noting that lawyer Roy Harrell had done exactly the same thing in a fund-raising letter for Fischer.

Garcia also repeated a complaint he has made for weeks about some Klein signs and brochures that improperly exclude the word "for," as in Klein for mayor. Election laws do require it, to prevent challengers from implying they are incumbents, and Klein's campaign has actually drawn "for" on many of its existing signs.

"I don't know if it's them being worried or it's trying to divert our attention," Klein's campaign manager, John Williams, said of the complaints. "We have not purposefully side-stepped anything."

Police union criticizes mayor in first direct mailing

ST. PETERSBURG _ As the mayoral campaign enters its final leg, the first direct mail shot has been fired by the police union.

"David Fischer is fanning the flames of racial division. . . . David Fischer failed to defend St. Pete from outside meddlers . . . David Fischer failed to support law enforcement," declares a mailing that the Police Benevolent Association sent to 21,600 St. Petersburg voters.

PBA president Jack Soule said Thursday that his organization had been committed to helping reunite the city after violent racial disturbances, but Fischer tarnished such efforts by questioning challenger Bill Klein's racial sensitivity in a flier distributed to black voters.

He also criticized Fischer for allowing his police chief to suspend the police officer who fatally shot an 18-year-old black motorist, though a grand jury concluded the officer had done nothing illegal.

Fischer could not be reached for comment.

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