Commentary: Spending, GOP style

The food fight among dueling leaders of Florida's Republican Party over who misspent money is demeaning for the party faithful and its donors. As the GOP conducts an audit of spending, officials should consider tougher rules to tighten use of state party credit cards and other funding sources.

What's obvious is that both sides played fast and loose with donors' money.

Gov. Charlie Crist, deeply behind in his bid for the U.S. Senate against former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, used Sunday's Fox News debate to accuse his opponent of using his party credit card and political committees for "personal enrichment."

But Mr. Crist's Senate campaign benefited as well from charges on a party credit card by former state GOP Chairman Jim Greer. Mr. Greer's lavish spending on the job led to his ouster months after he and Mr. Crist stonewalled his GOP critics.

While no expenditures seem to have involved taxpayers' money, the image of Florida Republicans -- the party that touts fiscal conservatism -- is one of freewheeling big spenders. New GOP Chairman John Thrasher will have to crack the whip as he tries to unify a party riven over the Crist-Rubio contest.

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