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Crist Faces Mounting Pressure From Former Donors To Return Money

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Now that Florida Governor Charlie Crist is running as an independent candidate for the Florida Senate seat, everyone who once pretended to like him is doing everything they can to turn Crist into a penniless hobo. It all begins with people like Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who at one point donated $10,000 from his PAC to Crist's campaign. Now, he wants the money back:

"People have already asked for their money back and I expect that to continue," said Cornyn, who has urged Gov. Charlie Crist to drop out and perhaps try again in the 2012 rather than defect. "His future electoral prospects are irreparably damaged by his deciding now to run as an independent."

Leading the wave of disgruntlement is, naturally, the Club For Growth, which announced earlier this week that it was going to "launch a refund-facilitation effort" against Crist. Club For Growth President Chris "Count" Chocola proffered the following statement:

"Candidates who switch parties in the middle of a campaign have an obligation to return contributions on request," said Club President Chris Chocola. "If and when Charlie Crist leaves the Republican Party, we will contact his contributors and help them make formal refund requests to his campaign."

As the Atlantic's Chris Good notes, the Club has had success in these sorts of efforts. After Senator Arlen Specter bailed on the Republican Party, Specter gave back "a total of $1.2 million in campaign contributions," in the face of its demands.

But the effort to impoverish Crist doesn't end there. Republicans in the State House are fast-tracking legislation that will impede Crist's ability to raise new funds:

Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, the House majority leader, has filed an amendment to an ethics bill (SB 902) that would prohibit Crist from soliciting or accepting campaign money while legislation (and the state budget) awaits his signature or veto. One surefire target of the language is the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which is expected to help bankroll Crist's independent candidacy.

The amendment would basically make it unlawful for the Florida Governor "to solicit or accept political contributions from any individual or entity having an interest in any legislation between the time the legislation is enrolled and 15 days after the legislation is presented to the Governor for his or her approval." This actually sounds like a pretty good law in general. Naturally, no one wanted to this sort of thing until there was a sufficient level of internecine political spite. So it goes!

For his part, Crist is apparently going to start giving partial refunds to people who no longer want to support his candidacy.

Seems like an good time to dedicate the Ben Folds Five's "Song For The Dumped" to all of Charlie Crist's old friends.

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