Ex-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s law firm donates to pro-Obama Super PAC

By Michael Beckel, The Center for Public Integrity

Charlie Crist, left, and John Morgan

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist made his name in the Republican Party, but his new employer — a personal injury law firm — leans the other way, as evidenced by a $50,000 donation it made to the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action.

Orlando, Fla.-based law firm Morgan & Morgan, known for its slogan “representing the people, not the powerful” and its ubiquitous advertising, made the donation March 31. The gift was disclosed in documents filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

It is one of only a handful of companies to donate to the super PAC, which is allowed to accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals, unions and corporations thanks to legal changes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and a federal court ruling called

Crist, a Republican who served as the Sunshine State’s moderate governor until January 2011, joined Morgan & Morgan after placing second in Florida’s 2010 U.S. Senate race. He works in the firm’s Tampa office handling class action lawsuits.

He was defeated by tea party favorite Marco Rubio, who is now Florida’s junior senator. As Crist’s standing in the polls sank, he opted to forgo a GOP primary race against Rubio and run as an independent. In the three-way contest that also featured Democrat Kendrick Meek, Rubio prevailed with 49 percent of the vote compared to Crist’s 30 percent and Meeks’ 20 percent.

Crist collected more than $98,000 from individual employees of Morgan & Morgan during his campaign, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics — more than any other group.

Florida trial lawyer John Morgan heads the firm. Morgan himself is a longtime Democratic donor, and this election cycle, he has raised more than $500,000 from friends and associates for Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

Crist himself has not donated to any presidential candidate so far this year, although he has said that he might consider voting for Obama in November. On Friday on MSNBC, Crist spoke favorably about Obama, calling him a “centrist” who has been “continually trying to reach out” to the Republicans for help, although he stopped short of officially endorsing the president.

For its part, Priorities USA Action has raised $9 million, including $2.5 million in March. That’s a fraction of the $28 million that’s been raised by the pro-GOP American Crossroads super PAC and the $52 million collected by Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

It hasn’t raised much, but Prorities hasn’t spent much either. It reported $5 million cash on hand through the end of March.

John Dunbar contributed to this report.

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