Gov. Bob Martinez's attempt to zing Lawton Chiles for meeting with big-spending banker David Paul has backfired. Martinez wrote an indignant letter to Chiles on Wednesday, demanding an explanation for the 1987 meeting and questioning whether Chiles did favors for Paul. Paul's "lavish excesses will cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars," Martinez wrote.
It turns out that Paul, the ex-chairman of CenTrust Savings Bank, donated nothing to Chiles' prior campaigns, according to a Chiles spokesman. And the former U.S. senator took no action on Paul's behalf, said campaign coordinator Jim Krog.
But a foundation led by Paul did give $10,000 to the people organizing Martinez's inauguration in 1986.
Martinez officials downplayed the significance of the contribution Friday. Aides said the governor met Paul only once, at a function honoring Miami's New World Symphony. The two never discussed banking policy, a Martinez aide said.
M. "Mac" Stipanovich, Martinez's campaign manager, complained about press coverage of the contribution, noting that Chiles' running mate, Buddy MacKay, received campaign contributions from Paul and his businesses in 1988.
"It is typical that Buddy MacKay would take $15,000, and we're writing stories about David Paul and Bob Martinez," Stipanovich complained.
Chiles indicated that he finds the Martinez tactic a little amusing. "After receiving the two-page, self-serving letter from him, I think it's kind of interesting for them to get a little egg on their face," said Chiles. "You keep grabbing those things and once in a while you grab a hand grenade."
Former Bar presidents support Shaw
TALLAHASSEE _ The avalanche of support for Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander J. Shaw Jr. continued to pour in Friday. Twenty-three former presidents of the Florida Bar added their names to those of the lawyers, judges, police officers, educators, citizens groups and business organizations that are helping Shaw fight an attempt to push him off the bench.
Shaw, whose name appears on the ballot Nov. 6 because of his regularly scheduled merit retention election, has been targeted by anti-abortion organizations angered over an opinion he wrote last year in a landmark privacy case. In the case, the seven-member court struck down a state law requiring minors to obtain consent for an abortion, ruling that the law violated the constitutional right to privacy.
Robert Ervin, who was president of the Florida Bar in 1965-66, said Friday that regardless of one's opinion about abortion, the court's ruling was an accurate interpretation of the state Constitution. He said that groups that want to change laws should lobby the Legislature for new laws or seek a ballot initiative to change the Constitution.
If single-issue groups are successful in efforts to oust judges they don't like, "the state will be weakened, and certainly our justice system will be weakened," Ervin said.
_ Compiled from reports by Times staff writers Charlotte Sutton and John D. McKinnon