Reality Check: Who is behind racially charged ads attacking Charlie Crist?

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

 A mysterious political group called Progressive Choice has paid for racially charged radio ads accusing former Florida Governor Charlie Crist of imposing harsh policies that negatively impacted blacks.

Crist, a former Republican, is running as a Democrat against Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, for governor.

Channel 9 political analyst Rick Foglesong said it is a case of dirty politics and that voters might never know who is behind the ads.
 
"The punishment fits the crime: The essence of American justice -- unless you live in Florida and happen to be black," the ad says.
 
The ads, which are running on urban radio stations in central Florida, accuse Crist of imposing policies that disproportionally impact blacks. 
 
"While Crist was coddling the gun lobby, he was cracking down on us -- passing maximum sentencing laws and enacting the country's strictest penalties against nonviolent offenders, many of whom just happen to be black," the ad says.
 
"This is really dirty politics. I think to engage in this kind of racially tinged language, that is insulting, I think, both to politicians in general and the African-American community," said Foglesong.
 
Foglesong said he finds it disturbing that no one seems to know who is behind the ads.
 
Progressive Choice is based in Maryland and has refused to disclose its donors, which it doesn't have to do.
 
"I don't like that. I think the political process should be transparent so people can know who is behind something cynical," said Foglesong.
           
Foglesong said it's hard to determine who's supporting Progressive Choice.
 
The group's radio ads attack Crist, but it also sent out a mailer criticizing both candidates and portraying them as one and the same .
 
"Ads of this nature, that cause potentially Democratic voters to roll their eyes and say, 'I think they are both bums,' that is really going to hurt Charlie Crist," said Foglesong.
 
Foglesong said if liberal Democrats believe the mailer and see Crist as being too conservative, they won't bother to vote.
 
If Progressive Choice stops running ads 30 days before the election, it won't be required to reveal its donors.


Reaction to the ads paid for by Progressive Choice from the Crist and Scott campaigns:

This "race-baiting" spot is a new low for Rick Scott and his special interest donors, but it's not surprising. He's taken care of them, so it's no shock that they'd take care of him. Florida's middle class families will see through this, just like they've seen through the millions of dollars worth of false and misleading advertising Scott has run. Charlie Crist, the People's Governor, will fight for them. Rick Scott will not.  

Brendan Gilfillan - spokesperson  with the Charlie Crist campaign

 

 “The difference between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist couldn’t be any more clear. When it comes to jobs and education, Rick Scott has a real record of achievement. Charlie Crist is just upset because life-long Democrats aren’t buying his record of failure. Voters of all political persuasions know the only thing Charlie Crist cares about is his own personal gain.”

 Greg Blair - Deputy communications director for Rick Scott’s Campaign