Attorney general

Published Oct. 16, 2014

Attorney general

It's a race that pits Pam Bondi, the state's most vocal opponent of Obamacare, against George Sheldon, who last year left the federal agency responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act. Bondi is the latest in a 12-year string of Republican attorneys general in Florida, while Sheldon served as deputy attorney general for the last Democratic attorney general. Bondi continues the Republican tradition of a tough-on-crime approach to the job. Sheldon wants to return the office to more aggressively policing white-collar crime and corporate fraud. With a large financial advantage, Bondi is considered the favorite. But Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer could steal votes from Bondi. By Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Pam Bondi, 48George Sheldon, 67Bill Wohlsifer, 60
Experience Bondi worked as a state prosecutor for 18 years in Hillsborough County, establishing a local and national media presence before running for attorney general in 2010. Backed by experienced politicos, she won in a tea party landslide. Four years later, she's emphasizing her record cracking down on pill mills, synthetic drugs and human trafficking, while gaining national attention for conservative stands on gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. Sheldon stepped down in October from his post at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families. Serving as Tampa state representative from 1974 to 1982, Sheldon was in private practice when he was picked by then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth to be a deputy. He worked at the Florida Department of Children and Families from 2007 to 2010. A Tallahassee lawyer who now specializes in debt collection, copyright and trademark litigation, and homeowners' associations, he left the Republican Party in 2012 after Texas congressman Ron Paul conceded the Florida primary. Critical of both parties, Wohlsifer says he's the better candidate because he has more legal experience than Bondi, who he says has a background focused too narrowly on criminal prosecutions.
EducationB.S., University of Florida, 1987; J.D., Stetson University, 1990.B.A., Florida State University, 1969; J.D., FSU College of Law, 1978. B.A., University of Central Florida, 1991; J.D., St. Thomas University School of Law, 1996.
Gay marriageWon't say if she supports gay marriage, saying personal opinions don't matter. As AG, has filed challenges to decisions recognizing gay marriage, an issue that she says should be decided by the courts.Supports gay marriage. "Society has moved dramatically, and you have a responsibility to reflect that."Supports gay marriage. "This is one of the reasons I left the Republican Party. They want to pick and choose which parts of the Bill of Rights apply, but that's now how it works. They all apply."
Medical marijuanaOpposes Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana. While she says the measure would make pot more accessible to children, she favors a law approved by legislators earlier this year that legalized a strain of the drug that is low in hallucinogens. Supports the proposed amendment legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes but says he doesn't support complete legalization of marijuana. "Let's see how it plays out in Colorado."Supports the proposed amendment legalizing medicinal cannabis, but thinks it's too restrictive. Favors broader legalization of marijuana. "People are still going to sell it, we'll just have more control over it."
Restoration of felon rightsLed the proposal, later approved by the Cabinet, to revoke the automatic restoration of civil rights, including voting, that had been approved in 2007. No felon should have an automatic restoration of rights, she says. "I believe you should ask, and there should be an appropriate waiting period." Favors automatic restoration of civil rights for felons, except in cases of public corruption, crimes against a child and first-degree murder. "If you paid your debt to society, getting your rights back is critical."Favors automatic restoration of civil rights for all felons, including violent ones. "If they've done their time, they've paid their debt to society. But we tie their hands upon release. That's why we have such a high recidivism rate."
Campaign financingContributions: $5,146,138 ($297,710 public financing). Expenditures: $2,096,066.Contributions: $721,700 ($228,094 public financing). Expenditures: $224,573.Contributions: $34,821 (no public financing, $6,755 in personal loans). Expenditures: $23,765.
Financial disclosureAssets: $720,000 home; $277,928 condo; $505,328 household goods and personal effects. Liabilities: $290,426 loans. Income: $128,745.Assets: $125,000 in household goods; $100,000 half-interest in second home; $32,696 in thrift savings plan. Liabilities: $451,581 in mortgages. Income: $62,145 in pensions; $14,758 in Social Security benefits; $4,800 in rent. Assets: $403,433, mostly in real estate. Liabilities: $87,237. Income: $35,827 in law practice; $3,111 from Palm Beach Homes Trust Co., Inc.
PersonalHer father, Joe Bondi, was the mayor of Temple Terrace in the 1970s. A Hillsborough state prosecutor for 18 years, Bondi regularly provided legal analysis on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC before she ran for office in 2010. Sheldon was legislative aide for future Gov. Reubin Askew, who was then a state senator. Sheldon was 27 when first elected to the Florida House.A New Jersey native, Wohlsifer moved to Florida in 1977 when he was in his early 20s, but moved back. He moved permanently to Florida in 1984, when he was 31. His wife, Steffi, is a performing jazz pianist and vocalist.; info@pambondi.comgeorgesheldon2014;;

About the job: The attorney general is Florida's chief legal officer and manages the largest law firm in the state, about 475 lawyers and more than 750 staffers. They deal with everything from consumer protection to street crime and Medicaid fraud. The agency also represents the state in legal matters, including appeals of inmate death sentences. The AG, as the official is informally known, is a voting member of the Florida Cabinet. Salary: $128,972.