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Prosecutor and defendant on same host committee for Sen. Maria Sachs

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by George Bennett

The massive host committee for an upcoming fundraiser for Democratic state Sen. Maria Sachs includes State Attorney Dave Aronberg and a man being prosecuted by Arongberg’s office, Democratic activist Clarence “Shahid” Freeman, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to blackmail Schools Superintendent Wayne Gent last year.

Aronberg supports Sachs and agreed to be on the host committee, but wasn’t involved in choosing who else would be on the list of nearly 100 Sachs backers, said Aronberg spokesman Mike Edmondson.

“We’re not the ones that put together those committees, the candidates do,” said Edmondson, who said there’s no reason for Aronberg to remove himself from the host committee.

Sachs and Freeman at her ceremonial swearing-in last year.

Sachs, an attorney, represented Freeman when he was charged with misdemeanor battery for a 2009 incident in which a woman accused him of grabbing her breast and buttocks.

Freeman pleaded not guilty in that case. Charges were dropped in 2011 after Freeman completed the terms of an agreement, according to court records. Details of that agreement are not included in court files.

Sachs defended her association with Freeman last year after he attended her ceremonial swearing-in a few weeks after the latest charges were filed.

“For 30 years I’ve been in criminal justice and I believe in our criminal justice system. I believe in the Constitution and everybody’s presumed innocence. I’ve lived that as well as believed it,” Sachs said at the time.

Tan Man Group: Actor George Hamilton hosting Palm Beach fundraiser for Charlie Crist

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 by George Bennett

Actor George Hamilton (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Actor, part-time Palm Beacher and suntanning icon George Hamilton will be the special guest host Friday for a fundraiser for former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 Democratic campaign.

The event will be at Casa Apava, the South Ocean Boulevard home of Terry Allen Kramer and Nicholas Simunek.

The host committee for the $1,000-and-up event includes former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, County Commissioners Mary Lou Berger, Priscilla Taylor and Shelley Vana, state Sens. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and longtime Delray Beach Democratic operative Andre Fladell.

Crist talks with Obama’s political brain trust; Hasner on GOP radar; Aronberg recalls law school days with Ted Cruz

Monday, September 9th, 2013 by George Bennett

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist says he has talked to some of President Barack Obama‘s top political advisers — David Axelrod, Jim Messina and Valerie Jarrett — as he contemplates a 2014 run for governor as a Democrat.

Subscribers to can read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Also in the column: More evidence that the national GOP remains interested in former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner as a candidate for the congressional seat of freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.

The Politics column also features Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg talking about his 1990s law school days with Republican Texas Sen. and tea party phenom Ted Cruz. And a Democratic activist talks about challenging Republican County Commissioner Steven Abrams in 2014.

Senate prez to Palm Beach County leaders: ‘Lower your expectations’

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by George Bennett

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, listened to Palm Beach County leaders ask for more money for beach renourishment, flood control and higher education during a meeting in the Capitol this morning.

But Gaetz said legislators will be cautious about spending until Florida has a clear picture of what effect automatic federal spending cuts, or sequestration, will have on the state’s economy and tax revenues.

“What’s happening in Washington is creating a lot of uncertainty, obviously, in the aerospace industry, in the defense industry, in the industries that are part of the supply chain that feed those industries. That’s scores of thousands of jobs in the state of Florida. So we’re kind of on a knife’s edge right now,” Gaetz told about 40 people who met with him during the county’s annual lobbying blitz in Tallahassee.

As long as that uncertainty exists, Gaetz said, it’s prudent for the state to rein in spending.

“I would suggest to you, be cautious, lower your expectations and let’s watch and see what happens to the variables we cannot control. You may not have wanted to hear that, but that is the message,” Gaetz said.

Today is Palm Beach County Day, when the county organizes a group of public and private sector people to visit the Capitol and meet with legislators and state officials.

The meeting with Gaetz and Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was attended by five county commissioners, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach State College President Dennis Gallon, former Senate President and Florida Atlantic University Foundation lobbyist Ken Pruitt, school district lobbyist Vernon Pickup-Crawford, municipal elected officials and various representatives of business and civic groups and the firefighters union.

Clemens files automatic voter registration bill

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Freshman Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, filed a bill that would make the state responsible for registering eligible voters instead of leaving the onus on voters themselves.

Clemens’s proposal (SB 234) is one of a slew of bills filed by Democrats in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election where some voters, including some in Clemens’s home county of Palm Beach, waited in line up to eight hours to cast their ballots during early voting.

His proposal would require the state to automatically register eligible U.S. citizens when they reach age 18 using Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver’s license data.

“The original purpose of the voter registration system was to disenfranchise women and African-Americans,” Clemens said in a press release. “It’s time we ditched the archaic scheme and realize that every adult American citizen should be automatically registered. There simply is no good reason to make people jump through hoops.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, the country’s leading civil rights prosecutor, also wants the country to join the majority of other democratic nations regarding voting by making the government – instead of the voter – responsible for signing up voters.

Clemens’s proposal gives adults the ability to opt out of getting registered, a twist on the current “Motor Voter” law that requires DHSMV workers to ask those applying for a driver’s license or state ID if they want to register to vote.

Aronberg poll shows 49-24 lead over Keever in state attorney race

Friday, October 26th, 2012 by George Bennett

Democrat Dave Aronberg‘s internal polling shows him with a 2-to-1 lead over Republican rival Dina Keever in the Palm Beach County state attorney’s race, according to a memo released by Aronberg’s campaign today.

The poll of 400 likely voters was conducted Monday through Wednesday and shows Aronberg at 49 percent, Keever at 24 percent and no-party candidate Robert Gershman at 5 percent with 22 percent undecided. The poll by the Kitchens Group has a 4 percent margin of error.

While the poll was in the field, WPTV Channel 5 reported Tuesday that the state Ethics Commission had decided to investigate an August complaint alleging that Aronberg improperly engaged in campaign activities before he announced his candidacy in January.

Tuesday was also the day that Keever began her TV campaign with ads citing the ethics investigation.

Aronberg, who says he’s confident the ethics complaint will be dismissed, has been running TV spots for several weeks and has spent about $300,000 on television time.

Aronberg launches first TV ad in state attorney race

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 by George Bennett

Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg has released the first TV ad of the Palm Beach County state attorney’s race. The 30-second spot will air on broadcast stations in a “significant” buy, consultant Christian Ulvert said.

The extent to which either of Aronberg’s rivals will be able to compete on the airwaves is unclear.

Republican Dina Keever said this week she hopes to buy TV time as well. Through Aug. 9, her campaign had collected $113,468 (including $50,500 from Keever herself) while Aronberg had raised $484,339.

No-party candidate Robert Gershman had raised $65,136 through Aug. 9, including $43,005 of his own money.

Democratic 2014 poll: Crist, Sink have solid favorable ratings among Dem voters

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 by George Bennett

A poll of Florida Democrats commissioned by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert shows former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist enjoyed strong favorable ratings among Florida Dems before he endorsed President Obama and spoke at the Democratic convention.

Taken Aug. 5-7 by Democratic firm SE&A Research, the poll shows 59 percent of Florida Democrats had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of Crist and 52 percent had a somewhat or very favorable view of Alex Sink, the former Florida chief financial officer who lost the 2010 governor’s race to Republican Rick Scott.

In a hypothetical head-to-head Democratic governor’s primary matchup, Sink got 31 percent to 29 percent for Crist. That’s within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

Crist, who ditched his Republican registration for no party affiliation during a failed 2010 Senate campaign, endorsed Obama Aug. 26 and spoke at the Democratic convention the following week. Crist is widely rumored to be mulling a 2014 run for governor as a Democrat.

Ulvert is advising Palm Beach County Democratic state attorney candidate Dave Aronberg and the Florida Democratic Party on state legislative races. He’s close to former Democratic state Sen. and 2010 attorney general candidate Dan Gelber, but said he didn’t commission the poll on behalf of anyone.


Gov. Scott: ‘We need to elect a Republican state attorney down here’

Monday, May 21st, 2012 by George Bennett


Republican Palm Beach County state attorney hopeful Dina Keever concedes she won’t match Democrat Dave Aronberg in fundraising. But it appears she has Gov. Rick Scott in her corner.

“I’m sure you’re going to do well,” Scott said to Keever during remarks at a Boca Raton Republican Club dinner last week. “We need to elect a Republican state attorney down here.”

Find out the latest on fundraising strategies by Aronberg and Keever in this week’s Politics column.

Some jabs at establishment favorite Aronberg in state attorney forum

Friday, May 4th, 2012 by George Bennett

The first meeting of all three candidates for Palm Beach state attorney was a civil event with discussions of qualifications and such issues as mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

The Post‘s Stacey Singer offers a wrap-up here of Thursday’s forum at the nonpartisan Voters Coalition.

Republican Dina Keever and no-party candidate Robert Gershman also got in a few digs at Democrat Dave Aronberg, the former state Senator who is backed by the Democratic Party establishment and some big-name Republicans.

“I am not backed by the Democrats. I am not backed by the Republicans. I am truly independent,” said Gershman, who switched his registration from Dem to no party after party leaders discouraged him from challenging Aronberg.

“I am not looking at this position as a steppingstone to something else,” said Keever in an apparent reference to Aronberg, who capped his 8-year Senate career with a failed 2010 bid for Florida attorney general before launching the bid for county prosecutor.

Former state attorney Krischer endorses Aronberg for top prosecutor

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 by George Bennett


Former Palm Beach County state attorney Barry Krischer is endorsing Democrat Dave Aronberg‘s bid for the top prosecutor’s job.

The Aronberg camp unveiled the endorsement today as former assistant state attorney Robert Gershman launched a no-party campaign for state attorney.

“I firmly believe that Dave Aronberg is the person best equipped to be our next State Attorney, and that’s why I’m enthusiastically and wholeheartedly endorsing him,” said Krischer, who was elected state attorney in 1992 and reelected three times. “Dave Aronberg’s extensive career of public service has prepared him to serve as Palm Beach County’s next top prosecutor. Dave is a prosecutor, fierce consumer advocate and leader in public safety, and is known for making criminals pay for the crimes they commit.”

Newsmax CEO, Republicans raise money for Democrat Aronberg’s state attorney bid

Friday, April 13th, 2012 by George Bennett


As publisher of conservative West Palm Beach-based Newsmax Media, Christopher Ruddy‘s support is coveted by many Republicans. Next week, he’ll help a Democrat — former state Sen. Dave Aronberg– raise money for his Palm Beach County state attorney campaign.

“On local races like that, law enforcement, there is no partisan way to handle it,” Ruddy said last month of his support for Aronberg. He said Aronberg is “very highly regarded as an honest, independent, fair-minded person.”


The host committee for a Wednesday lunchtime fundraiser at Newsmax HQ includes several big local GOP names: former Ambassador to the Bahamas and current Mitt Romney money-raiser Ned Siegel of Boca Raton; megadeveloper Llwyd Ecclestone; BIZPAC Review tandem John R. Smith and Jack Furnari and Republican Palm Beach County Commissioners Karen Marcus and Steve Abrams.

Aronberg has enjoyed strong Democratic establishment support since former Democratic state attorney Michael McAuliffe left office for a private-sector job. A recent Aronberg fundraiser included five current or former Democratic members of Congress as co-hosts: Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings and former Reps. Ron Klein, Robert Wexler and Harry Johnston.

Aronberg’s support from Democratic leaders led attorney and longtime Dem Robert Gershman to switch his registration to no party affiliation last week so he can run for state attorney without facing Aronberg in a Democratic primary. Gershman plans to file next week. The candidate qualifying period ends next Friday.

Republicans have not fielded a candidate for state attorney.

Scott’s new state attorney appointee Peter Antonacci says he won’t run in fall

Friday, March 9th, 2012 by George Bennett


Gov. Rick Scott made it official this morning and appointed Tallahassee lawyer Peter Antonacci as the state attorney for Palm Beach County for the final 10 months of Michael McAuliffe‘s term.

Antonacci, a Republican, said this morning that he does not plan to run for a full four-year term in the fall.

That’s good news for former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg, the only candidate who has opened a 2012 campaign for the job.

Antonacci, 63, is a former statewide prosecutor and deputy attorney general who now works as a lawyer and lobbyist for the powerhouse Gray Robinson firm in Tallahassee. McAuliffe, elected in 2008, is leaving next Friday to take a job with billionaire Bill Koch‘s Oxbow Carbon.


Five past and present Democratic congressmen host Aronberg fundraiser

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 by George Bennett

Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg — still the only announced candidate for Palm Beach County state attorney — will get fundraising help next month from U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and former Democratic Reps. Robert Wexler, Ron Klein and Harry Johnston.

The congressional quintet and former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth are on the host committee for the March 15 event at the Delray Beach home of Aronberg’s parents. Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioners Burt Aaronson, Shelley Vana and Priscilla Taylor and several Democratic club presidents and municipal officials are among the co-hosts.

With an April 20 candidate qualifying deadline approaching, Aronberg is the only candidate who has opened a campaign to replace State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, who is stepping down March 16 for a private sector job. Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of McAuliffe’s term, which ends in January. Scott last week said he hasn’t decided whether he wants an appointee who will also run for the job in the fall.

Aronberg urges Gov. Scott to appoint non-candidate ‘caretaker’ to fill state attorney vacancy

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by George Bennett


Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg, the only candidate to open a 2012 campaign for Palm Beach County state attorney, is urging Republican Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a “caretaker” to serve the last 9-1/2 months of incumbent Michael McAuliffe‘s term and not pick someone who will run against Aronberg for a full four-year term.


McAuliffe leaves office next month to take a private sector job. Seven people have applied to Scott for the appointment to fill the remainder of McAuliffe’s term, which ends in January. Several of the applicants have said they are only interested in the short-term appointment and not in running on the 2012 ballot.


Aronberg sent a letter to Scott today saying he won’t seek the appointment “to avoid even the appearance of using the temporary position for political purposes.”

And Aronberg doesn’t want anyone else to use the appointed position for political advantage.

“I believe that the interim State Attorney should be a caretaker, rather than someone who seeks to benefit from the temporary appointment to get elected to the position full-time in November,” Aronberg wrote.

The deadline to apply for the appointment is 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Read Aronberg’s letter after the jump…


Judge Krista Marx will not seek state attorney’s job

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Krista Marx told PostOnPolitics this afternoon that she will not run for state attorney or seek the interim appointment to replace incumbent Michael McAuliffe.

Marx, a former assistant state attorney, was entertaining the idea after McAuliffe announced last month that he would not seek reelection this year. McAuliffe later announced he’s leaving office in March to take a job with West Palm Beach-based Oxbow Carbon, which means Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a replacement to serve the last nine months of McAuliffe’s term.

Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg is the only candidate to open a 2012 campaign for McAuliffe’s job.

Scott’s office says it has received one application for the state attorney appointment, from Wesley Forrest White, an assistant state attorney in Nassau County near Jacksonville. White said he would move to Palm Beach County if he got the appointment. He said he is not interested in running for a four-year term.

Aronberg poised to jump into race to succeed McAuliffe

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Former state Sen. Dave Aronberg — a Greenacres Democrat — looks poised to become the first candidate to jump into the race to succeed outgoing Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.

Aronberg has scheduled a West Palm Beach news conference Thursday at the county’s historic courthouse, where he expected to announce his candidacy.

“It’s an exciting time,” Aronberg told the Post. “It shows you that even when you lose a race and it looks like a door has closed, it can be a new beginning.”

Aronberg has been working as an assistant statewide prosecutorl for Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, since December 2010. Aronberg, who earns $92,000-a-year,  is based in Palm Beach County and oversees efforts to combat prescription fraud and abuse.

 Aronberg, who served eight years in the Senate, lost a 2010 bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. While in the Senate, he had pushed for creation of the prescription drug database that is now a central part of the state’s efforts to crack down on so-called pill mills, which have proliferated across South Florida.

“No matter what job I’m in, I’m not changing my focus,” said Aronberg. “It’s always going to be about public safety and fighting prescription fraud.”

McAuliffe surprised local officials Tuesday when he announced he would not seek re-election, instead taking a job with the energy company Oxbow Carbon. Aronberg had been mulling a Democratic primary challenge to McAuliffe, but now appears set to be the first candidate running for the open seat.

Aronberg, 40, has said he had considered running for state attorney several years ago, when longtime state attorney Barry Krischer announced he would not seek another term in 2008. But by then, Krischer had positioned McAuliffe to run as his successor.

Aronberg, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard, grew up in South Florida. He formerly worked as a special assistant in the U.S. Treasury Department and as an assistant attorney general.

McAuliffe poll tests potential attacks on Aronberg

Monday, December 19th, 2011 by George Bennett

If former state Sen. Dave Aronberg challenges Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe in a Democratic primary next year, he can expect the McAuliffe camp to blast him for working as “pill mill” czar under Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.

That was one of the potential lines of attack tested in a poll conducted by the McAuliffe campaign this month.

Aronberg is expected to announce in January whether he’s running.

Read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Some Dems fret about ‘heartbreaking’ McAuliffe-Aronberg primary

Monday, November 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Former state Sen. Dave Aronberg says he’s still doing some “due diligence” before deciding whether to challenge Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe in a 2012 Democratic primary.

McAuliffe’s consultant says he expects Aronberg to run, while many party bigs say they are hoping to avoid a primary that county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel says would be “heartbreaking.”

Read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Dave Aronberg for state attorney?

Monday, April 11th, 2011 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe recently launched his 2012 reelection bid and hasn’t drawn an opponent.

Democrat McAuliffe’s first big fund-raiser this week features popular Sheriff Ric Bradshaw as a “special guest.”


Some McAuliffe critics have floated the name of former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg as a potential challenger.

Find out what Aronberg has to say about it in this week’s Politics column (third item).

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