Florida AG race goes negative

State Rep. Frank White and Circuit Judge Ashley Moody have both aggressively gone after each other as they try to win the GOP nomination for Florida Attorney General. Each is trying to paint their opponent as a liberal—a major insult in conservative Republican circles where that’s only a slightly lower insult than being called a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama supporter.

Two weeks ago, Rep. White released an ad that featured Sheriff David Morgan in uniform talking with White and asking: “The choice is clear for attorney general, conservative Frank White or liberal Judge Ashley Moody?”

The ad questioned Judge Moody’s conservative credentials because:

  • She was a registered Democrat in the early 1990s;
  • She gave $100 to Democrat Bill McBride’s 2002 failed bid for governor against Jeb Bush (Moody worked for McBride’s firm for short time); and
  • She was involved in a 2002 lawsuit over what the plaintiffs said were “a series of fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations” conducted by President Donald Trump and the Trump organization. [The lawsuit sought repayment of deposits for investors who lost money on Trump Tower Tampa, a development that was never completed. The suit was filed in 2009, seven years before Trump was elected president.]

Last week, White accused Judge Moody, who also served as an assistant state attorney, for being “soft on child predators” in mailer paid for by his political action committee, United Conservatives.

The media release from the committee: “Ashley Moody has a record of being soft on child predators as documented in court records and news outlets from her hometown. It is shocking that any judge would give less than the maximum sentence for a criminal convicted of committing horrific crimes against children. Moody has made excuses for these monsters and even recommended an adult-aged child molester be sent to a juvenile facility. Florida’s children deserve better, and Florida’s parents deserve answers.”

The PAC created a website liberaljudge.com to highlight the cases of Jared Henry and Steve Carty that received eight-year and six-year sentences on several counts of child pornography.

Moody responded with a letter signed by eight state attorneys – Brad King, Bernie McCabe, RJ Larizza, William Cervone, Brian Haas, Glenn Hess, Dennis Ward, Phil Archer and Bruce Colton – that asserted that White was “uniquely unfit to serve” because of his “scurrilous and foolish attacks against Ashley Moody’s distinguished career as a prosecutor and judge…”

While she did not garner the support of the Escambia County sheriff, Moody has earned endorsements from Attorney General Pam Bondi, over 40 county sheriffs, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Police Benevolent Association and more than half of Florida’s state attorneys.

Moody’s supporters have created an attack website, FamilyMoneyFrank.com, that is paid for by a newly formed political committee Truth in Politics. The site describes White as “…Car salesman. Not qualified to lead. Unfit to serve.”

Its shows the financial connection between White’s Attorney General campaign and liberal politicians (Barack Obama?) via Automotive Free International Trade PAC. White’s father-in-law and employer, Sandy Sansing, donated to the fund during the 2008 election cycle, which later made contributions to Democratic politicians.