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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) - Former Gov. Charlie Crist is getting some help for his campaign from taxpayers.

Crist on Friday received nearly $616,000 in public matching funds. Former state senator Nan Rich has also received matching money. Both Crist and Rich are Democrats.

Candidates running for statewide office can qualify for matching money from taxpayers. The Republican-controlled Legislature tried to repeal public financing of campaigns, but voters defeated the amendment in 2010.

The amount of matching money each candidate receives is based on how much money is raised from Florida residents.

Some Republicans have labeled public financing "welfare for politicians."

Former Gov. Jeb Bush refused public money, as did Gov. Rick Scott in 2010. But other Republicans including Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are accepting the money.

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