CASA video producer calls on Rick Scott to dump ad using Charlie Crist charity clip

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In the heat of a political battle, once in a while it is necessary to take a moment, step back and remember that there are more important things than winning campaigns.

The producer of a charity video for Community Action Stops Abuse, popularly known in the Tampa area as CASA, wants Gov. Rick Scott’s to understand that, in light of his latest “smear campaign ad.”

CASA is the Tampa Bay-based non-profit to provide crisis intervention for victims of domestic abuse.

This morning, Crist spokesperson Kevin Cate called on the Republican governor to stop using an ad featuring a clip of  former Gov. Charlie Crist, Scott’s Democratic opponent.

At issue is a digital spot Cate produced for CASA in 2012 to raise money for charity event led by Crist’s wife Carole.

In Wednesday’s Florida gubernatorial debate, the issue of domestic violence played a brief role a Scott talked about coming from an abusive home.

“I want to thank my wife for standing by me, through thick and thin,” Scott said in his closing statement. “My mom’s watching from heaven, I want to thank her for being willing to divorce an abusive husband.”

Shining a light on the subject, even with a mention, may be a good start, Cate says, especially for a problem that touches nearly one in four Florida families.

Nevertheless, what crosses the line is Scott’s recent campaign attack ad featuring a clip of Crist lending a hand for charity during Christmas.

Cate wants it to stop.

In a cease and desist email, he is demanding the Republican Party of Florida to discontinue the ad immediately.

Cate issued the following message to Scott Communications Directors Matt Moon and Susan Hepworth:

Susan and Matt  –

I was very proud of Governor Scott for highlighting the strength of his mother during the last debate — having left an abusive relationship. Domestic abuse is horrendous. As you may know, my company recently helped organize an event in St. Petersburg to raise money for CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), led by former First Lady Carole Crist.

CASA is a charity introduced to me by Governor Crist and Mrs. Crist.

Tragically, last year the shelter was forced to turn away 1,400 people due to lack of funding. About half of those individuals were children — children in the same situation described by Rick Scott during the last debate.

They need all the funding they can get. One person being turned away is one too many.

In 2012, Governor Crist filmed a Christmas fundraising video for CASA.

We raised more than $1,000 publicly and significantly more privately from the video. I attribute most of that to the fact that Governor Crist appeared in the video — drawing awareness to the cause during the holiday season.

In your latest desperate smear campaign ad, you stole an image from this video. In essence, abusing a domestic abuse charity video to further your own partisan negativity. It’s more than unfortunate. It contradicts  the words used by Rick Scott in the last debate about ending domestic abuse, both mental and physical. It also mocks the good people at CASA.

I would ask that you please apologize, cease and desist from using the image and video, and also make a contribution to CASA. Here is the link: http://www.casa-stpete.org.

Some things are more important than winning campaigns.

Thank you.

The ad in question, available on Vimeo, is a lighthearted Christmas parody produced by Kevin Cate Communications, featuring Crist as himself and political reporter Troy Kinsey as Charlie Cristmas.

Scott’s ad, also available on YouTube, lifts an image directly from Crist’s cameo, where he shown speaking with Cate over the phone. Among other things, the Democrat pokes fun at his infamous hug with President Barack Obama, which precipitated his departure from the GOP.

In an email, Rick Scott for Florida Deputy Communications Director Greg Blair defended the ad, and the picture of Crist used, while throwing in a quick political jab.

“The picture they are complaining about is simply Charlie standing outdoors somewhere on the phone,” Blair said. “Probably placing a call to Tom Steyer in California planning their next false attack on Gov Scott.”

The CASA spot:

Charlie Crist (mas) Delivers ‘Obama Gifts’ from Kevin Cate Communications on Vimeo.

Scott’s Oct. 17 attack ad:

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.