The latest TV spot by Republican Attorney General candidate Pam Bondi singles out her opponent, state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, for having supported a bipartisan adoption bill that overwhelmingly passed the legislature in 2001. The ad highlights the fact that the law contained a provision requiring that parents seeking to give up their children for adoption put their names in the newspaper.
The so-called “scarlet letter law” was eventually repealed in 2003, with Gelber’s help, and in a debate between the attorney general candidates earlier this month, Gelber pointed out that two other Republicans currently running for office, Marco Rubio and Jeff Atwater, also voted for the bill.
The law was also an issue in the 2006 attorney general campaign, in which Bill McCollum defeated Walter “Skip” Campbell, who’d sponsored the bill in the senate.
Gelber’s campaign issued a statement entitled “Women for Gelber Set the Record Straight on Adoption Law”:
In a true act of desperation, Pam Bondi today falsely attacked former federal prosecutor and Democratic nominee for Attorney General Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) with a deplorable TV ad that lies about Gelber’s record and attempts to mislead Florida voters. Bondi is attacking Gelber for his vote on a comprehensive, bipartisan adoption bill that streamlined the adoption process, reduced costs and protected adoptive families from frivolous challenges. The bill had some unintended consequences that Gelber helped repeal. Three women legislators from both sides of the aisle who voted for the legislation, as did the overwhelming majority of the Florida Legislature, issued statements to set the record straight.
“It is appalling to me that anyone would ever question Dan’s commitment to standing up for women and protecting Florida families,” said Palm Beach County Tax Collector and former State Representative Ann Gannon. “I served with Dan in the Florida Legislature and he has always been a champion for women. Pam Bondi needs to stop lying to Florida voters.”
HB 141, the bill in question, was sponsored by then-State Representative Evelyn Lynn who is now a State Senator. The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the Florida Legislature in 2001 by a vote of 104-8 in the House and 30-8 in the Senate. The bill was endorsed and supported by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and the Florida Catholic Conference. The provision of the bill that created the unintended consequences was repealed in 2003 with Gelber’s help.
“The bill that Pam Bondi is using to distort Dan’s record fixed many of the problems with the adoption process in Florida, and although it had some unintended consequences, we took action to fix the law,” said West Palm Beach Mayor and Former State Representative Lois Frankel. “Dan helped repeal the unintended consequences of the bill, and for Pam Bondi to attack Dan’s character is unfair and misleading.”
“This bipartisan bill was supported by the majority of women in the Florida legislature and passed overwhelmingly with support from both sides of the aisle,” added former Republican State Senator Nancy Argenziano. “Dan has always stood up for women and Florida families, and we need him as our next Attorney General. What we don’t need is someone like Pam Bondi who will continue the political games and false attacks that have become par for the course in Tallahassee.”
View the ad in full below: