Aronberg Tars Gelber With “BP’s Law Firm”

I’ve previously criticized my friend Dan Gelber’s initial reaction over his firm Akerman getting all the BP Florida work.

Basically, when the news broke Dan did what lots of politicians do (he was joined by several other Akerman state legislators) — he went into defense mode.

Specifically Gelber argued there was no conflict for two reasons I thought were pretty bogus:

1. He’s “of counsel” (a contract lawyer) and therefore doesn’t make any more money from the firm receiving the humongous BP business; and

2. The firm would build a “Chinese Wall” and isolate him from any BP work at Akerman.

As I detailed in my original post, both arguments and the conclusion (no conflict) are beyond weak, and to his credit Dan thought better of his initial reaction and left the firm shortly after making his initial comments on the matter.

Apparently, on the same day Dan announced his resignation, his opponent — also my friend — Dave Aronberg called for Dan to resign, leading to a predictable pissing match over who should get credit for Dan doing the right thing. Now Dave has ratcheted it up with a flier that seems a bit over the top:

Aronberg, of Greenacres, recently began using the name of a defunct statewide Democratic group — the Florida Mainstream Democrats — to help raise money for his campaign.

And last week, Aronberg’s campaign mailed Democratic voters a flier with a picture of an oily bird to attack Gelber, of Miami Beach, for working at the law firm retained by BP to handle its civil litigation in Florida.

State Rep. Rick Kriseman, the former chairman of Florida Mainstream Democrats, said he was “disappointed” Aronberg was using his group’s name.

“It’s misleading people,” said Kriseman, who closed the political committee earlier this year after struggling to raise enough money.

He also is no fan of the BP ad for much the same reason. In a call that went to Democratic voters this weekend, Kriseman said he was “disappointed and frustrated that Dave Aronberg has sent out to Democratic voters mail pieces which are very misleading and are simply not true. Dan Gelber has been a leader in going after BP for the damage they have caused our communities.”

The St. Petersburg Democrat said he had been neutral in the attorney general race, but decided to record the automated phone call for Gelber’s campaign after he saw Aronberg’s flier.

At least two other Democratic representatives, Luis Garcia of Miami Beach and Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota, have lent their names to Gelber in opposition to the flier, which tells voters that 80 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico before Gelber quit Akerman Senterfitt. It also refers to Gelber has having worked for “BP’s law firm.”

Ok, now it’s Dave’s turn for some criticism — oily birds and “BP’s law firm.”

Dan might have reflexively defended his Akerman connection when the news first broke — in fact I suggested Akerman might have thrown him under the bus to go after the BP business — but days later Gelber did the right thing and it’s time to move on.

The flier is beneath Dave’s good judgment and I hope we never see another ad like it.

Like I always say, play nice kids!