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Sheila Scott-Griffin responds to negative campaign mailer

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Sheila Scott-Griffin responded Tuesday to a critical mailer sent to voters in District 7 by the Florida Democratic Party this week.

The ad, not attributed to any candidate, plays on Scott-Griffin’s law license suspension that arose after complaints of “lack of diligence,” “failing to respond to the Bar” and “violating fees and costs of legal services” were validated.

Her license was suspended in both 2007 and 2011.

“Although candidates signed a pledge to have a nonpartisan race and concentrate on problems expressed by city residents, a Vulgar and Unprofessional mailer was sent to homes in our city from Tallahassee. I have told my story and offered solution (sic) to residents through media, in homes and forums throughout the District. Obviously my status has changed in the polls, and after 40 years of incredible success in our city and region – I know “How to Get Things Done,” Scott-Griffin wrote.

The quote was taken directly from a press release sent Tuesday afternoon. Spelling and grammatical errors as well as emphasis were all included.

The mailer quotes the Tampa Bay Times, which wrote in June that “Griffin took [a client’s] money and then stopped communicating with them.”

It highlights that Scott-Griffin “abandoned her clients” by “taking $15,000 from her client” and that the action forced him “to stay behind bars instead of seeking post-conviction relief.”

Scott-Griffin previously responded to her issues as an attorney in an interview with SaintPetersblog earlier in the campaign. She said the mistakes were the result of miscommunication and a file that was not mailed. She also said she didn’t know about the complaints about her because she was living out of state at the time.

The front of the campaign mailer shows a photograph of an unknown African-American middle-aged woman with the quote, “Republican Sheila Scott-Griffin abandoned her clients in their time of need. I see her for what she is. She’s lost her law license, she’s lost her way, she’s lost my vote.”

The bottom of the page says, “we just can’t trust Republican Sheila Scott-Griffin.

“We in District 7 are tired of having people from the outside, that lack knowledge of our need for credible experience and education bulldoze their way into our neighborhoods for their own reasons verses the people’s needs,” Scott-Griffin continued. “Voters gather again tonight at Enoch Davis tonight to hear Candidates and begin their decision-making for the Candidate that has the breadth of experience to move this District and the City forward.”

Scott-Griffin is the only Republican running for the District 7 seat currently held by Wengay Newton. Aaron Sharpe is an independent and the other three candidates – Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Will Newton and Lewis Stephens – are Democrats.

In a statement Monday night, Newton’s campaign indirectly implied the Wheeler-Brown campaign was behind the mailer and denounced its negative content.

Wheeler-Brown said she didn’t know anything about the mailer until SaintPetersblog notified her about it. In a statement, her campaign spokesperson emphasized the campaign would focus on Wheeler-Brown’s abilities and qualifications.

The five candidates will be whittled down to two after the August 25 primary. The top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election.

Here is Scott-Griffin’s complete statement:

If you want to know what the residents of St. Petersburg District 7 needs are, its (sic) an experienced and knowledgeable Candidate. Sheila Griffin is a serious Contender to represent the City of St. Petersburg.

Although candidates signed a pledge to have a nonpartisan race and concentrate on problems expressed by city residents, a Vulgar and Unprofessional mailer was sent to homes in our city from Tallahassee. I have told my story and offered solution (sic) to residents through media, in homes and forums throughout the District. Obviously my status has changed in the polls, and after 40 years of incredible success in our city and region – I know “How to Get Things Done.”

We in District 7 are tired of having people from the outside, that lack knowledge of our need for credible experience and education bulldoze their way intou our neighborhoods for their own reasons verses the people’s needs. Voters gather again tonight at Enoch Davis tonight to hear Candidates and begin their decision-making for the Candidate that has the breadth of experience to move this District and the City forward.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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