Abrams listed his boss Rothstein as reference for Crist appointmentby George Bennett | November 4th, 2009
Crist’s former chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg, said Abrams won the job on his own merit.
“I vouched for Steve Abrams from the beginning based on my long-time working relationship with him and the governor has known him for years,” said Eikenberg, who was chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw when Abrams was mayor of Boca Raton. Eikenberg is now campaign manager for Crist’s U.S. Senate bid.
Rothstein, head of a Fort Lauderdale law firm and a major political money-raiser for Crist and other elected officials, was accused by his own law partners this week of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar scheme to bilk investors. Abrams quit the firm Monday.
“Did he put in a good word for me? He was my boss,” Abrams said. “If you were to ask your boss permission to seek a job, wouldn’t you put your boss down as a reference?”
Abrams went to work for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler’s Boca Raton office in April 2008. He said his initial contact with the firm was through Stuart Rosenfeldt, who lives in Boca. Abrams, who said he met Rothstein for the first time shortly before he was hired, said he had “very little” contact with Rothstein.
When Mary McCarty made a corruption-induced exit from the county commission in January, Abrams was one of several applicants for Crist’s appointment. In his application, he listed Rothstein, Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel and former Delray Beach Mayor Jeff Perlman as references.
Abrams said he believes Rothstein “put in a good word for me,” but doesn’t know whether Rothstein spoke to Crist or someone on the governor’s staff.
Crist’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment this afternoon. Eikenberg said he never spoke to Rothstein about Abrams.
Said Abrams: “I think I would have had a real good shot at it without Rothstein. I’ve known the governor and a had a relationship with the governor for years.”
Abrams was an early Crist backer in 2006 when most of the county’s GOP establisment backed Crist’s Republican primary rival, Tom Gallagher, in the governor’s race.