Trial lawyers’ executive director Scott Carruthers quits over racial mailerby Dara Kam | October 27th, 2009
A race-baiting mailer backed by the state’s trial lawyers has resulted in a shake-up at the top of the group’s political organization.
Scott Carruthers, executive director of the Florida Justice Association, quit today after more than two decades years at the organization.
FJA political director Albert Balido and Deputy Executive Director Paul Jess have both been demoted.
Balido will continue on FJA as a lobbyist and Jess will keep his role as general counsel, according to FJA spokeswoman Jacqui Sisto.
“After 22 years of service to the FJA, Scott has decided to leave the organization and pursue other opportunities,” Sisto wrote in an e-mail.
Carruthers resigned after several heavy-weight lawyers dropped their Florida Justice Association membership in protest over the trial lawyers group’s failure to fire anyone in response to a race-baiting campaign mailer.
The mailer depicted Black Panthers, President Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and a group of blacks holding an ACORN sign and was captioned “Is this the change you want to believe in?”
The trio was suspended after an internal investigation into the flyer conducted by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan.
Orlando attorney John Morgan, former FJA president Frank Petosa of Boca Raton and several members of Morgan’s firm turned in their resignations saying the suspensions didn’t go far enough.
The mailer was sent to potential absentee voters in the Jacksonville area and targeted John Thrasher in the GOP primary race to replace the late Sen. Jim King. Thrasher, a former House Speaker, later won the election.
Balido signed off on the flyer even after objecting that it may have been “over the top.”