Dave Aronberg faces tough primary race for Attorney General
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08/12/10 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

State Sen. Dave Aronberg is in a heated Democratic primary race for Attorney General with Dan Gelber. We spoke with Sen. Aronberg while he was traveling by car to Tampa for a candidate forum.

We’ll hear from his primary opponent Dan Gelber in the next week. The primary election is Tuesday August 24 and early voting is underway now.

“I used to work in the attorney general’s office as an assistant attorney general, the economic crimes division, working under Bob Butterworth. We used to go after consumer fraud and fight for public safety. But the office, as of lately, has become politicized. It is now used to help politicians get elected to a higher office. That’s why, nowadays it’d be hard to find a major consumer protection case being done by the attorney general’s office. Instead, the precious resources are being diverted to fight health care reform at the federal level, to get people elected to the next office. When we have 1,100 gangs, we have prescription drug abuse crisis in our state, we have consumer fraud like no other state has in the country, [and] we’re the national leader in mortgage fraud and Medicaid fraud. And yet, our attorney general, he’d be asleep at the wheel. I want to depoliticize the office, and return it to the days of Bob Butterworth.”

The attorney general’s office has been in the news a lot, this week. Yesterday, Attorney General Bill McCollum introduced new, proposed legislation that he hopes will be similar to Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation. What do you think about that?

“Well, he’s backing legislation being introduced by Will Snyder. That’s just a political move, just like I’ve been saying. It means that, yet again, the office is being used to help professional politicians get elected to the next office. Now, this is what’s going on. We have a gang problem, we have a Medicaid problem, and yet, we’re diverting precious resources away from that to go fight political battles. You know, if you’re going to try to bring the Arizona Law here to Florida, you’re going to have to deal with economic boycotts. You’re going to have to deal with millions of dollars in litigation and costly delays, when this is already tied up in the courts in Arizona. Why not wait to see if it’s even ruled constitutional, before you start pushing something that you know is going to be controversial and result in boycotts, and that the law enforcement community does not support? So, I think, again, it’s another example of this office being used for politics, rather than good public policy.”

You’re in a tough primary battle right now with you’re opponent Dan Gelber. What separates you from Dan Gelber?

“Well, I’m the only one in this race who worked in the attorney general’s office. I worked for Bob Butterworth, as an assistant attorney general. I think that’s the best experience to be attorney general, to work in the office. I’ve been endorsed by the law enforcement community, 18 sheriffs, the FOP, and the PBA. I think that, if you look at my record, I’ve been focused my whole career on consumer protection and public safety. I’ve worked closely with the law enforcement community to try to clamp down on fraud, on gangs, on prescription drug abuse, each of the big issues that are out there today. The other thing that differentiates me is that I respect my opponents, but this was not his first choice. He was running for U.S. Senate, against Kendrick Meek, and dropped out. Now, he’s in this race. In fact, this is his third different office he’s seeking in a period of 7 months. This is not my second or third choice, this is my passion. You can’t do the job of attorney general right, if you’re always looking to run for the next job.”

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