Rush Limbaugh's attorney lashed out at Palm Beach County's top prosecutor Monday and argued that the conservative radio commentator's prescription drug use was commonplace for Americans suffering from chronic pain.
Defense attorney Roy Black questioned State Attorney Barry Krischer's justification for releasing letters detailing plea discussions and charged that the prosecutor's spokesman leaked a false story to discredit Limbaugh.
Mike Edmondson, spokesman for Krischer, responded Monday that the office stood by its release of the letters Friday after calls to the state Attorney General's Office and the Florida Bar.
Prosecutors began their investigation of Limbaugh, 53, after his former maid said last year that she had been his longtime supplier of prescription painkillers. No charges have been filed.
Plea discussions began in October, more than a week before Limbaugh stunned listeners by admitting his addiction on the air and entering a rehabilitation facility for five weeks.
According to Bar notes released Monday by Black, Krischer said in a telephone call Thursday to the Bar's ethics staff that the state Attorney General's Office had told him the letters about a possible plea "are not normally to be revealed so may or may not be public record."
"The Attorney General's Office was not equivocal at all on it, and the (Bar's) ethics section said that while there was a rule, the law took precedence over the rule," countered Edmondson.
Krischer released the letters in response to a request by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel under Florida's broad public records law.
The letters show that prosecutors rejected a deal suggested by Black in December that would have sent Limbaugh to a drug intervention program rather than have him face criminal charges for illegally obtaining the painkillers.
Instead, prosecutors wanted Limbaugh to plead guilty to a third-degree felony of "doctor shopping" _ visiting several doctors in Florida and California to receive duplicate prescriptions of a controlled narcotic.
Black said Krischer also threatened to disclose Limbaugh's medical records unless he pleaded guilty.
Limbaugh, "because of who he is and the opinions he expresses, is being singled out for action that no other person in this community would be subjected to," Black said.
Meanwhile, Black went into the greatest detail yet on Limbaugh's use of prescription painkillers.
While prosecutors' records said Limbaugh got prescriptions for about 2,000 pills in six months, Black said Limbaugh obtained about 1,800 pills in 210 days. Black said the average of 8.5 pills per day was "nothing extraordinary."
"There is nothing good about suffering. There is nothing good about not being able to get out of bed without medication," Black said. "People are allowed to have medication for pain that cannot be corrected by surgery."
Asked for Limbaugh's reaction to the disclosure of the plea letters, Black said, "I would rather not repeat it."
Black accused Edmondson of trying to discredit Limbaugh by leaking a story in December saying that Limbaugh would plead guilty. Edmondson denied the allegation.
Black said he wrote Krischer requesting an investigation of Edmondson but has received no response. He said he has not asked any other agency to investigate.
Edmondson said the investigation of Limbaugh is "ongoing," but an appeals court has agreed to decide whether investigators should have what Black considers unprecedented access to Limbaugh's medical records.