July 02, 2010

Dan Gelber strikes back

State Sen. Dan Gelber doesn't pull any punches in an e-mail to supporters about his Democratic rival for attorney general, state Sen. Dave Aronberg, who made a stink over his law firm representing BP -- after Gelber says he had already quit.

People are tired of politics as usual and as much as I have tried to keep our campaign for Attorney General on the high road, my opponent has now decided the low road is where he stands his best chance. So now, he has decided the best argument he can make about his own qualifications, is to dishonestly attack mine. He has been behind in every poll taken in this race --  which is why candidates go negative.  I intend to win the right way...

Several people, including some of my closest advisers told me to call a press conference last week and pat myself on the back for taking a principled stand. But I didn't because doing the right thing is never a cause for celebration. But unfortunately, last night, my opponent in the primary, in what could only be considered a rank political stunt, decided to politicize the tragic oil spill calling on me to resign even after I had already done so. Sadly, while I continue to offer real solutions to hold BP accountable and help victims impacted by the spill, my opponent is focused on scoring political points.  The stakes in this race are too important for politics as usual and I really hoped this campaign, unlike so many others, would remain on the high road...

June 28, 2010

Gelber quits law firm after BP hires it

Dan Gelber quit his law firm, Akerman Senterfitt, on Thursday after BP hired the firm to represent it in the oil claims process.

BP hired Akerman Senterfitt to handle civil litigation weeks ago. Gelber, a Democratic state senator running for attorney general, submitted his letter of resignation last week, according to campaign manager Christian Ulvert.

In an interview with the Times/Herald on Monday evening, Ulvert disclosed Gelber's resignation after challenger Dave Aronberg called on Gelber to resign. "As a candidate for attorney general, it is an inherent problem when your own law firm is on other side of one of the most important pending lawsuits in Florida's history," Aronberg said in a statement. "Working for the law firm that is defending British Petroleum for damage done to Florida beaches is disqualifying. You don't have to be a lawyer to know that you can't profit from the polluter and then represent those who have been injured by that same polluter."

Gelber initially resisted suggestions about a conflict of interest, telling the Daily Business Review "I know nothing about the case, nor will I ever." Read more here.

June 14, 2010

Aronberg called for oil escrow before McCollum

When President Barack Obama on Sunday called for BP to establish an escrow account to cover damage claims from the gulf oil spill, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum took credit.

"The media has reported today that the President plans to ask BP to establish an escrow account for Deepwater Horizon claims, an action I called for last week ..." McCollum said in the statement. "If the report is true, the President's echoing of my call for an escrow account is welcome."

The press release from his office said "Obama has followed McCollum’s lead."

But really, McCollum followed the lead of state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Democrat running for attorney general. In a May 5 letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, Aronberg wrote that "Florida should be insisting that an interest-bearing escrow account be established, under the control of the Cabinet or CFO, with each responsible party in this disaster committing a share to total $1 billion." (The total is smaller than the one McCollum proposed, but it was also much earlier in the crisis.)

May 21, 2010

Aronberg's campaign faces election law questions

A Democratic candidate for attorney general is facing questions about whether his campaign skirted election laws to pay staffers. A former fundraiser for Dave Aronberg received payments from the campaign and a little-known federal political committee called Citizens for Effective Government, according to campaign finance records.

Ryan Hampton, a South Florida-based money man, made more than $10,000 from Aronberg's campaign and $1,000 from the federal committee. The committee — dubbed a 527 under IRS code — was closely tied to Aronberg, a state senator from Greenacres, before it closed shop in April amid questions.

Aronberg's chief consultant, Screven Watson, is listed as the founder, according to federal IRS documents. And Aronberg helped raise money for the committee, which paid three of his campaign staffers. Florida law puts a bright line between federal 527 groups and a candidate's campaign."Can (federal 527) money flow over to the campaigns? No," said Mark Herron, an election law expert.

(Read more here.)

May 20, 2010

Aronberg names campaign manager

Nick Matthews is taking the reins of Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg's bid for attorney general, the campaign announced Thursday. Matthews most recently managed state Sen. Eleanor Sobel's bid in Broward County.

Aronberg legislative staffer Kristen Pesicek will take a leave of absence and join the Fort Lauderdale-based campaign as a scheduling and advance coordinator.

May 12, 2010

Voters undecided in statewide 2010 races

A new Ron Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll shows wide open races for statewide offices with few voters confident about which candidate to elect. (Here are the findings.)

Take the race for Attorney General: voters are 73 percent undecided in the Democratic primary (feature Sen. Dan Gelber verse Sen. Dave Aronberg) and 72 percent undecided in the three-way Republican primary (which pits Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp against prosecutor Pam Bondi and former agency head Holly Benson).

The most intriguing figures come in the Agriculture Commissioner election where the poll tested a the match-up between Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam and former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox, a Democrat. It's a deadlock with Maddox at 31 percent, Putnam at 30 percent and undecideds at 39 percent. (The margin of error is 4 percent for this question.)

"The huge number of undecided voters is really where this election rests," said PR guru Ron Sachs, whose firm isn't representing any candidates.

Continue reading "Voters undecided in statewide 2010 races" »

May 05, 2010

Aronberg wants Crist to seek $1 billion for escrow from oil companies

Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat running for attorney general, sent the following letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, asking him to demand $1 billion from BP, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton to be held in escrow to cover potential clean up costs for the oil spill.

Here's the letter: Download 05-05-10 Letter to Governor Crist re oil spill-FINAL[1]

April 30, 2010

April 13, 2010

Gelber's leads AG pack in mi$leading first quarter numbers

What's one way to make it look like you're beating the pants off your opponent in fundraising? If you're Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami-Beach, you send out an email from your attorney general campaign HQ boasting that "we received over $325,000 in contributions... I have received more contributions than any other candidate in the race – Republican or Democrat."

$325k sure is a lot of money. Too much in fact.

Turns out, he raised $218,911 in cash. So how can he say he "received" $102k more than that? Gelber counted in-kind donations -- that is, stuff that isn't cash. And even if the in-kinds are added to the cash, Gelber's haul is technically $321k, due to common campaign accounting adjustments. Still, by rolling the inkinds into his fundraising total, it's a 32 percent inflation. Oh well. Technically, in-kind contributions are still contributions.

And Gelber's not alone when it comes to rolling inkind donations into an initial, misleading announcements about their contributions. Republican Holly Benson's contributions were inflated by 21 percent. Republican Jeff Kottkamp inflated his numbers by 17 percent and Republican Pam Bondi boosted hers by just 6 percent.

Only Gelber's Democratic rival, Dave Aronberg, looks like he was straight up when he said he raised $260k. Techincally, it was $259k.

Boy is this getting lawyerly. Maybe we shouldn't be shocked. This is a race to be the state's top lawyer.

First quarter fundraising roundup

Here are the highlights of the official first quarter fundraising numbers that came out last night. (With a helpful assist from Christina Johnson over at On3PR)

Toplines in the governor's race: Republican Bill McCollum raised just less than 1.4 million in the first three months of 2010, compared with Democrat Alex Sink's 1.1 million. Sink still holds the overall edge in campaign cash, though, with $5 million on hand compared to $3.8 million for McCollum. GOP challenger Paula Dockery has $410,000 on hand. That figure includes $280,000 in personal cash she has put into her campaign.

An interesting note in the AG race. Days before the official numbers came out, Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber announced an impressive haul of $330,000. Turns out that number was pumped up with about $100,000 worth of in-kind contributions. His actual cash haul was $218,000.

Other AG candidates: Sen. Dave Aronberg took in $259,000 to use in the primary against Gelber. On the Republican side: Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp raised $232k, Pam Bondi raised $222k and Holly Benson raised $198k.

Senate President Jeff Atwater and Congressman Adam Putnam both opened up wider leads in their races for CFO and Agriculture Commissioner. Atwater took in $446,000 and has almost $2 million on hand. His Democratic challenger, Loranne Ausley has $346,000 on hand. Putnam had about $1.2 million on hand, while Democrat Scott Maddox has $314,000.