After a news report listed him as one of six candidates in the running for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, two-term Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has taken himself out of consideration.
“I’m honored that my name was mentioned, but I withdrew from consideration,” Aronberg, 46, told Florida Politics Wednesday morning. “I am committed to the important work being done in our community and eager to continue my service in Palm Beach County.”
Before becoming Palm Beach state attorney in 2012, and re-elected without opposition in 2016, Aronberg served in the Florida Senate from 2002-2010. In the Senate, he focused on criminal justice and consumer protection issues, helped pass major identity theft and port security legislation, as well as worked to close loopholes in Florida sex offender laws.
After an unsuccessful bid to succeed Bill McCollum as Attorney General – a race ultimately won by Republican Pam Bondi. In 2010, Aronberg became Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking as Bondi’s “Drug Czar.”
In April 2016, Aronberg declined to prosecute Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager, for battery. Police charged Lewandowski for grabbing the arm of former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign news conference in Florida.
“After reviewing the video recording there is no reasonable doubt Mr. Lewandowski pulled Ms. Fields back as she was attempting to interview Mr. Trump,” Aronberg told reporters at the time.
Aronberg also convened a three-month grand jury investigation in 2016 — one of the first in the nation — looking into corruption in drug treatment centers which uncovered evidence of sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced labor and insurance fraud. The Florida Legislature allotted $275,000 to Aronberg, where he produced a 37-page report on how government agencies respond to corruption, recommending 15 sweeping changes to improve ways to prevent the exploitation of people suffering from opioid addiction.
With Aronberg out of the running, five candidates remain in the race for U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida:
— Roy Altman is a 35-year-old federal prosecutor, who over six years handled hundreds of criminal cases, including the conviction of the killer of a postal worker. As a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, Altman clerked for federal appeals court Judge Stanley Marcus. Altman is a partner at the Miami law firm Podhurst Orseck. According to the Miami Herald, several insiders see him as the leading candidate.
— John Couriel, 39, specialized in economic and major criminal cases at the U.S. attorney’s office before becoming a partner at the Kobre Kim law firm. He also mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for the Florida Legislature. Couriel is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. The Miami Herald called him the front-runner in the race until Trump’s advisers learned Couriel voted for Jeb Bush in the Florida primary and predicted Hillary Clinton would win his Republican-leaning district by “quite a bit.”
— Jon Sale is a 73-year-old former federal prosecutor in New York and Miami and co-chair of the white-collar defense and compliance practice for the Broad and Cassel law firm. Sale, who attended the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Law School, served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Justice Department in the Watergate case. The Herald notes Sale is also close friends with Trump confidant and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, making him a likely Trump pick.
— Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, a 37-year-old state lawmaker from Miami and land-use attorney with Akerman LLP. The University of Miami and Columbia Law School graduate appeared on Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” in 2006. While knowing Trump personally, Diaz is not considered a strong contender, says the Herald.
— Frank Ledee is a 53-year-old veteran prosecutor in the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, most recently as head of the gang prosecution and gun violence units. Ledee also serves as the office’s liaison to the U.S. attorney’s office. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ledee to the South Broward Hospital District Board in 2016. He holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Barry University and has his law degree from Nova Southeastern University.