Dr. Jeffrey Solomon today called on Republican lobbyist and candidate for Florida House, Jose Diaz to follow the leadership of State Senator Dan Gelber and resign from the Akerman Senterfitt law firm which is defending BP in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
“You can’t serve two masters and it’s clear as day you’re either with Florida or BP,” Solomon said. “How long should the public wait for Diaz to make his loyalties clear?”
A May 24, 2010 letter from Republican Senator Alex Villalobos, who also works at Akerman, is clear: working for Akerman and being a Florida Legislator is a conflict.
Letter here: http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/images/news_photos/63190/Document.pdf Translation: Legislators at Akerman will be involved in activity which is likely to directly impact a client.
“That’s conflict 101,” Solomon said. “It’s why Senator Gelber resigned and Senator Villalobos asked be kept clear of any BP work.”
And yet, nearly two months after the Villalobos letter and a month after Gelber’s resignation, Diaz quietly remains employed at the Akerman firm while seeking to join the Legislature. Even more, Diaz is a paid Associate at the firm which could expose him to even more conflicts of interests – including potentially prohibiting him from casting votes related to oil ventures, seeking needed recovery dollars or funding future green energy projects.
“This is just outrageous that a professional lobbyist can be paid to defend BP on a Tuesday and be able to cast votes which directly affect them on Wednesday.” Solomon said. “It’s part of the reason why I called, more than four months ago, for a stronger wall between paid lobbying and public service.”
Two weeks ago, Solomon wrote to Diaz and fellow Republican candidate Carla Ascencio-Savola asking both to disclose publicly how they would vote during the upcoming special legislative session on a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling and exploration of Florida’s coast. Solomon was clear: he would vote for the ban. Neither candidate has responded.
“It’s rich to say you’re opposed to oil drilling in the Gulf while profiting off the disaster,” Solomon said. “It’s time for lobbyist Jose Diaz to let everyone know whether he’s with BP and his lobbying firm or with the people.”
Solomon is the Democratic nominee in district 115, an open seat being vacated by term-limited Republican J.C. Planas. Dr. Solomon is a Chiropractic physician. He served as President of the Florida Chiropractic Association and served as Vice-Chair of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission. Dr. Solomon also served as the official Chiropractor to Team USA in the 2006 Winter Olympics.