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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida senator chastises Bill McCollum's 'political frolic'



Is it an election year, or what?

First Attorney General Bill McCollum holds a slew of press conferences leading up to his lawsuit aimed at stopping ObamaCare. He and other attorneys general hired an outside lawyer that, they say, will cost each state about $20 an hour. At the same time, McCollum's pushing legislation to cap the fees of outside attorneys.

Enter Sen. Dan Gelber, a Democrat seeking to succeed the Republican attorney general. He sponsored an amendment to the McCollum's fee-cap legislation (first reported here) aimed at stopping the lawsuit. The amendment failed 24-12 on a party-line vote. But not before Gelber pulled out the rhetorical stops.

“Why is our attorney general spending all the resources of his office almost on a daily basis for this political frolic to get headlines?" Gelber said, grabbing a headline of his own. He called McCollum's effort a "circus" and an "ideological escapade," and said that McCollum is siding with big insurance companies against kids while ignoring child predators, pill mills and gang violence - all are issues that McCollum, however, has made priorities.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, gave Gelber a mild there-you-go-again chiding.

"My good friend Sen. Gelber. You're at it again," Thrasher said.

“What we’ve gotten into, unfortunately here, is a political debate over legislation that was passed in Washington D.C. But you ought to know what the lawsuit’s about. What the Attorney General is attempting to do in protecting the constitutional rights of the citizens of the state of Florida is basically defend us from a mandate that has never before in the history of our country been done: wherein we have to purchase insurance.”

After the amendment died, the other Democratic senator running for attorney general, Dave Aronberg, bashed the fee caps as a "polluters protection act." Aronberg said the bill would unfairly "tie the hands of future attorneys general" in big tort cases like an oil spill or a massive prescription drug case.

Thrasher also swiped at Aronberg, thanking him and Gelber for trading blows against his bill.

"It's good to see you all dividing your time," Thrasher said. The bill passed 27-11 and now heads to the governor for his signature.

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:24am]


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