Connie Mack's campaign violated election law, filing says

Published July 25, 2012

A Jacksonville lawyer has filed an FEC complaint against Connie Mack's Senate campaign for allegedly violating federal election law through the purchase of Brooks Brothers clothing.

The purchases, about $470, were reported last week by the Buzz. Mack's campaign has blamed it on an unnamed staffer and said the charge was taken care of.

Attorney Clyde Collins — former Duval County Democratic chairman — said in a news release that he filed the complaint because the Mack campaign improperly "obtained expensive and personal clothing with federal campaign funds in violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). Connie Mack is well aware that federal campaign funds cannot be used for personal clothing for a federal candidate."

Mack campaign spokesman David James responds: "Sadly, Bill Nelson wants to now debate a staffer that made a stupid mistake instead of discussing how he cast the deciding vote on Obamacare or why he votes in lock step with President (Barack) Obama 98 percent of the time."

James refused to name the staffer. "The problem is solved and will reflect in the next report," he wrote in an email.

Missed votes may be an issue

Remember the beating Jim Davis took from Charlie Crist for missing votes in Washington in 2006? We wonder if it's only a matter of time before Democrats and/or Nelson start using the same attack on Mack, who has missed a slew of votes while running for U.S. Senate. Monday he missed three votes as he raised $50,000 in Jacksonville.

The folks at the Democratic Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century have put Mack's missed votes into context. In the first half of this year, the Fort Myers Republican has missed about 30 percent of the House votes. That gives him the seventh-worst record.

But most of the other chronic vote-missers have some extenuating circumstances. Five of them — Bob Filner of California, Ron Paul of Texas, Dennis Cardoza of California, and Jerry Lewis of California, are retiring, and 82-year-old Louise Slaughter of New York broke her leg. Exclude those representatives, and Mack's record is worse than every member of congress except Democrat Charlie Rangel of New York.

Crist faces attack over op-ed

"Charlie Crist demonstrates he has two faces. One is the face of what he says, and the other is his record," reads a blistering Republican Party of Florida email sent out Tuesday.

The attack accuses Crist of flip-flopping on the voter purge issue. It is a response to Crist's recent Washington Post op-ed, where he blasts Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to verify legitimate voters on Florida's voter rolls as "mean-spirited" and "all-too-partisan."

Crist is rumored to be positioning himself to run as a Democrat against Scott, which may be why RPOF chairman Lenny Curry initiated his attack.

"Last weekend, Charlie Crist added his voice to a chorus of people who exploit a very necessary effort to stop illegal, non-citizen voting," said Curry. "As usual, his voice was used to keep himself in the limelight and to reflect the latest evolution of a politician who stands for nothing."

Appeal of prison ruling tossed

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed the state's appeal of a lower-court decision that struck down as unconstitutional a plan to privatize more than two dozen prisons in South Florida. The decision was on procedural grounds, not on the merits of privatization. Attorney General Pam Bondi had filed the appeal on behalf of the Legislature, which was not a party to the original suit — a maneuver the judges struck down, saying Bondi had no right to appeal.

Times staff writers Brittany Alana Davis and Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.