(CNN) – The Republican Party of Florida has told its members that they will be forbidden from supporting Gov. Charlie Crist if he decides to run as an independent.
In an internal memorandum issued Thursday and provided to CNN, RPOF General Counsel Jason Gonzalez concluded that the "Party Loyalty Oath," Rule 9 of the party's bylaws, would forbid executive committee members from providing "active, public or financial support" to any candidate other than the one with "Republican" next to his or her name on the ballot.
That would rule out Crist, who, if he abandons the GOP primary, would run with no party affiliation - an "NPA" candidate. Crist's GOP primary opponent, former House speaker Marco Rubio, is consolidating Republican support as Crist, trailing badly in the primary, plots his next move.
"Any member who fails to formally revoke his or her public support and request the return of any contributions made to a candidate running against the candidate of the Republican Party would be in violation of the RPOF Rules and would be subject to removal from party office and membership on Republican executive committees," Gonzalez wrote in the memo to RPOF Executive Director Ronnie Whitaker.
Whitaker distributed the memo on Thursday after executive committee members reached out to him with questions about a potential independent bid by Crist. He said he had asked Gonzalez to provide guidance on Rule 9 after their inquiries.
The Loyalty Oath applies to the 30 appointed members of the State Republican Executive Committee on down to members of the state's 67 County Executive Committees and precinct committee members - a substantial chunk of party activists in the state.
The ruling also applies to Florida's Republican members of Congress and Sen. George LeMieux, along with Florida's members on the Republican National Committee and six GOP statewide officeholders - all of whom are included on the State Republican Executive Committee.
"The requirement of party loyalty is appropriate given the leadership roles within the party performed by executive committee members," wrote Gonzalez, formerly general counsel to the governor's office.