I started writing the headline for this blog post with the qualifier that the ad above is “probably” the hardest hitting TV ad I’ve ever seen in Florida politics.
Scratch that. This is the most lethal TV ad I’ve ever seen in Florida politics. Period.
The launch of this ad — and an accompanying website at BrodskyLetWalkerGo — today has shaken up the race for State Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which pits Republicans Ed Brodsky and Peter Lombardo in the primary for a chance to challenge Democrat John Torraco in November’s general election. Longtime incumbent Earl Moreland is retiring.
Brodsky, who has worked with the state attorney’s office for more than 20 years, began his career prosecuting misdemeanor and juvenile defenses, such as DUIs and domestic disputes. After several promotions, he was named Felony Division Chief, before becoming the chief assistant state attorney in Manatee County. Today, he oversees day-to-day operations of attorneys and staffs at offices in Manatee, Sarasota and Desoto counties.
Lombardo, a former prosecutor who worked up the ranks to felony division chief with the 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, worked for the attorney’s office from 1988 to 1996.
Lombardo has more than 18 years as a local prosecutor and five-and-a-half years as owner of the Law Office of Peter Lombardo.
For further background on this race, be sure to read this story from WWSB.
Big money has become a big factor in national and state-wide races. Now it appears that the local State Attorney race could come down to influence from one very rich man, very upset over a single case. “This is probably the most pressure that this office has been in in my 24 years as State Attorney,” says Earl Moreland, State Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which includes Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto Counties.
Moreland says Gary Kompothecras wanted a former employee of his company, Physicians Group, LLC, to face charges of stealing trade secrets. Jeffrey Lauffer is now a star witness in civil suits against Physicians Group.
If not, Moreland says, it was made clear that Dr. Gary, as he’s known, would throw his weight, and his multi-million dollar fortune, behind efforts to defeat Moreland’s long-time chief assistant, Ed Brodsky. “There were going to be consequences if we didn’t file criminal charges,” Brodsky says, adding that early in the race, Kompothecras supported him, serving as an event host for a political fundraiser for Brodsky.
The easy thing to do for Moreland to do for the sake of his heir apparent was to file the charges. But he says the facts of the case did not merit it, even after examining new information Kompothecras brought to his office. “We looked at this case very closely over a long period of time and the criminal charges just weren’t there,” Moreland says. “We weren’t going to play politics with it, regardless of the consequences.”
Now signs promoting Peter Lombardo decorate a Physicians Group office in Sarasota. Brodsky says a political action committee with ties to Kompotecras called Florida First has raised $100,000 and started spending for Lombardo, a Bradenton attorney running against Brodsky in the Republican primary. “No one from the PAC has contacted me,” says Lombardo. In 25 years of law practice, he may have met Kompothecras, he says, but insists he knows nothing about who is behind the PAC that’s now behind him. “As far as a pac supporting me,” he says, “Ed Brodsky is trying to distract people to sway voters.”