Campaign Finance Suit Denied Class Action Status

Posted on: September 28th, 2010 by Steve Larson

A Florida state court judge has refused to grant class-action status to a lawsuit by two contributors who claim Gov. Charlie Crist cheated them by becoming an independent.

The plaintiffs, Linda Morton of Naples and James Rood of Jacksonville, a former GOP Party chairman and U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, had also asked the court to freeze $7.5 million in Crist’s campaign warchest.  Senior Circuit Judge Jack Schoonover refused to convert the lawsuit to a class action and has twice refused to freeze any of Crist’s funds.

Tom Grady, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Crist, who is running as an independent for the U.S. Senate, could be hit with hundreds of small claims cases from individual donors.  Crist said only five people had requested refunds, and he is not obligated under federal campaign laws to return the money.  Mr. Grady resigned from Mr. Crist’s campaign after Crist switched parties.

Crist dropped his affiliation with the Republican Party several months ago after polls showed him losing the primary to Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the state House of Representatives and Tea Party favorite.