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Gelber defended against "toxic to Jewish education" attack

Powerful lawyers accustomed to throwing their weight around the courtroom have condemned an attack ad saying Dan Gelber, Democratic candidate for attorney general, is "toxic to Jewish education.''

The lawyers argue that the mailer, sent recently to Jewish voters in South Florida, was funded by an anonymous group that supports Gelber's Republican opponent, Pam Bondi.

Bondi, incidentally, supports taxpayer-funded education vouchers for private schools. Gelber does not.

The mailer was paid for by the Committee for Florida's Education, Inc., which describes itself as a newly formed coalition of Jewish advocates. It has targeted not only Gelber, a Jewish state senator from Miami Beach, but also Alex Sink, Democratic candidate for governor, and Loranne Ausley, Democratic candidate for chief financial officer.

The group's complaint: All three Democrats don't support the state scholarship program for children who want to attend religious schools, especially in Jewish communities. Gelber's legal allies said in a letter that the mailer contains "blatant falsehoods.''

"The most inflammatory claims deal with Senator Gelber's call for investigations of how voucher money was being spent,'' states the letter, penned by former South Florida federal prosecutor Bruce Udolf. "The truth?  Senator Gelber expressed deep concern that one school receiving voucher money, the Islamic Academy of Florida, sent $350,000 overseas to fund terrorist activity.''

The letter was signed by 100 high-profile South Floridian members of the Jewish faith, including U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Congressman Robert Wexler.

A spokeswoman for Bondi's campaign said it was not behind the attack ad. "Our campaign had nothing to do with this flyer,'' Kim Kirtley said.