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Alex Sink, Florida Gov. Candidate, Accused of "Cheating" in Debate

Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, participates in a debate against Republican challenger Rick Scott at Nova University in Davie, Fla. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010.
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, participates in a debate against Republican challenger Rick Scott at Nova University in Davie, Fla. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010.
AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, a Democrat, was caught violating the terms of a debate with Republican opponent Rick Scott on Monday, after she was seen reading a text message sent by an aide.

CNN reports that the incident took place during a debate hosted by themselves and St. Petersburg Times, during which "no notes and no props on stage" were permitted, per a written agreement both candidates had signed.

But during a commercial break, Sink's makeup artist showed the candidate a two-sentence message on a Droid cell phone, sent from an adviser, directing her on a point of conversation.

"The attorney who [w]on the Sykes suit said alex sink [sic] did nothing wrong. Tell not to let him keep talking about her," the message said.

Scott, who spotted the violation, brought it up when the debate resumed.

"First Alex, you say you always follow the rules," Scott said. "The rule was no one was supposed to give us messages during the break, and your campaign did with an iPad or an iPod."

Sink fired the aide following the debate, and released a statement shortly thereafter.

"After the debate tonight, one of my campaign advisors admitted he tried to communicate with me during one of the breaks," Sink said in the statement. "While he told me it was out of anger with Rick Scott's repeated distortion of facts, it was a foolish thing to do. It violated a debate agreement and I immediately removed him from the campaign."

Critical Contests: Interactive Map with CBS News' Race Ratings

CNN reports that aides and advisers to the candidates were not allowed backstage, but each was allowed to bring along his or her own makeup artist.

Sink, the CFO for the state of Florida, currently leads former health care executive Scott by a slim four point margin, according to a recent poll. CBS News currently rates the race a toss up.


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.