Truth Test #4: Dave Aronberg Ad

2:45 PM, Aug 23, 2010   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This ad is paid for by Democrat Dave Aronberg's campaign for Florida Attorney General. Half of the ad focuses on him while the other is about his opponent, Dan Gelber.

Statement:

While some said drill, Dave Aronberg fought offshore drilling and BP.

This is true. Aronberg is opposed to offshore drilling in the state and in fact, was an early voice in calling for a $1 billion escrow account from BP to cover damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Before the spill, when Florida appeared poised to get back into the offshore oil drilling business, he and another state senator proposed a study on environmental impacts to slow the process.

READ THE ARONBERG-DEUTCH STUDY

Statement:

Dave Aronberg stopped insurance rate hikes.    

This is false. Sen. Aronberg voted for a bill which would cap Citizens Insurance increases to 10 percent, but that's a hike nonetheless.

READ THE BILL

READ THE INSURANCE JOURNAL BILL EXPLAINER

TAMPA BAY ONLINE ARTICLE

Statement:

...Cracked down on scam artists who rip off seniors. Democrat Dave Aronberg.

This is true.  Aronberg  has a consumer fraud division within his office that so far is credited with saving  seniors millions.

VIEW THE ARONBERG CONSUMER FRAUD RELEASE

Statement:

Dan Gelber was a partner in BP's law firm.

This is false. Gelber was a member of the state's largest law firm Akerman Senterfitt, but was counsel, not a partner when BP hired the company. He also never dealt directly with BP issues.  In fact, he specifically requested to be left out of any BP communications with his company and resigned when concerns about whether this might present a conflict as attorney general came to light.

There is an extensive analysis of whether this would in fact cause Gelber a problem as attorney general on politifact.com, including the statutes that determine whether he would have to recuse himself from a case involving the oil company. The conclusion is probably not.

READ THE POLITFACT.COM STATEMENT

Statement:

One paper called Gelber "tainted". 

This is true, but it's an opinion column not a news report. It just doesn't hold the same credibility. And it's really a glancing comment about how Gelber could have avoided the taint of the BP issue, had he resigned earlier. It's also important to note, the same newspaper endorsed Gelber for attorney general.

READ THE NORTHEAST NEWS & TRIBUNE ARTICLE

READ THE TAMPA BAY ONLINE ARTICLE

Statement:

He also voted to increase insurance rates by up to 193 percent.

This is false.

Gelber voted against a bill that would have capped increases at 10 percent. But the only mention I could find of that 193 percent number was a report that said Citizens Insurance indicted rates should be 193 percent higher in some south Florida cities, not that this was a probability. Bottom line: Gelber did not vote to raise insurance rates by 193 percent. This is a misleading message.

READ THE INSURANCE NEWS.NET ARTICLE

READ THE BILL DETAILS

HB 1171: The insurance deregulation bill or "consumer choice bill" that would allow well-capitalized companies such as State Farm to bypass state rate regulation. 

Aronberg voted yes, Gelber, no. Crist vetoed it.

SEE THE VOTE

Bill allows Florida's state run Citizen's Insurance to raise rates and requires private carriers to pay into a state fund for catastrophic events.

Aronberg voted yes, Gelber, no. Crist signed it.

READ THE TAMPA BAY.COM ARTICLE

Statement:

Miami  lawyer Dan Gelber "tainted."

This is opinion, but it's also worth noting that Aronberg was also a Miami lawyer so if it's a negative for one, seems like it would be for both.

This is one of those ads in which both sides sent a great deal of information to substantiate and refute the claims.  That information is attached in its entirety on our website, and I encourage you to read it.

VIEW THE AKERMAN SENTERFITT LETTER

VIEW THE HB 1495 VOTE RECORD

VIEW THE TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

VIEW THE HB 1171 VOTE RECORD

VIEW THE SB 2044 VOTE RECORD

VIEW ARONBERG HITS THE AIRWAYS EXPLAINER

Information provided by the Dave Aronberg campaign:

While some said drill, Dave Aronberg fought offshore drilling and BP. 

Fact: As a state senator, Dave Aronberg along with Ted Deutch came out against oil drilling in 2009 before the spill and asked the senate president to study the impacts of offshore drilling. He was one of the first elected officials to demand that BP create a billion-dollar escrow fund to pay for the costs of the Gulf oil spill. (St. Petersburg Times, May 5)

Dave Aronberg stopped insurance rate hikes.

Fact: On May 1, 2009, Dave Aronberg voted for HB 1495, which capped Citizens Property Insurance Corp. rate increases at 10 percent annually. A report by Citizens said that without the law, insurance rates would have increased by as much as 193 percent in 2010. (Senate Roll Call #31, HB 1495, May 1, 2009; Sun-Sentinel, July 27)

(He) cracked down on scam artists who rip off seniors.

Fact: Aronberg started a consumer fraud division in his office, the first of its kind, which has returned more than $4 million to consumers who have been ripped off. (St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 7)

Dan Gelber was a partner in BP's law firm.

Fact: BP hired Dan Gelber's law firm after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, upon the firm being hired and being asked if it was a conflict, Gelber said it was a non-issue. (Daily Business Review June 15, 2010). As of July 2010, Dan Gelber was paid $225,000 a year by BP's law firm. (Miami Herald, June 30)

He also voted to raise insurance rates up to 193 percent.

Fact: On May 1, 2009, Gelber voted against HB 1495, which capped Citizens Property Insurance Corp. rate increases at 10 percent per year. A report by Citizens said that without the law, insurance rates would have increased by as much as 193 percent in 2010. (Senate Roll Call #31, HB 1495, May 1, 2009; Sun-Sentinel, July 27)

Miami lawyer Dan Gelber "tainted"

Fact: As of July 2010, Gelber was an attorney with Miami-based law firm Akerman Senterfitt. (Martindale Hubbell; Tampa Tribune, June 30)

* In response to this truth test, after our story aired, a representative from Senator Aronberg's office made this statement in terms of the Senator's record on taxes:

"when we say that Aronberg "stopped insurance rate hikes," we are referring to the bill he did to block life insurance rate increases. It's the right to travel bill. Aronberg passed that bill to stop life insurance rate increases. We are not referring solely to the citizens property insurance bill when we make that claim."  

This reference was nowhere in the supporting materials the Aronberg campaign sent during the vetting process.  Only the Citizen's bill was listed as verifying the no tax hike claim.

MORE: 2010 Election Coverage, more Truth Tests

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