Committees’ Attack Ads Will Change Judicial Races


Political committees and all their “independent offshoots are oozing their way into judicial races.

That is not a good thing.

These groups will turn judicial campaigns into cesspools of anonymous last minute attacks and misrepresentations.

That’s the word from two political insiders.  I reluctantly agree.

The committees would dramatically change the way judges are elected.

One of these odious groups have tested the waters a judicial campaign in the past.

In 2006, a committee called the 21st Century Florida attacked judicial candidate Michele Towbin Singer.  It stated she was “disrespectful to judges as an attorney and said the Christian Coalition had endorsed her.

Most of 21st Century Florida’s money– $210,000 — came from the National Freedom Alliance, run from 401 E. Las Olas Boulevard by lobbyist Alex Heckler, according to state records.

Heckler has been an officer of four of these independent committees in recent years, say state records.

The voters in 2006 didn’t buy the crap funded by Heckler’s group.  She easily beat John Rayson, then mayor of Pompano Beach and now town attorney of Davie.

That defeat won’t stop consultants from bringing committees back in a big way next year.

That’s too bad.

Judicial campaigns are supposed to be above the worst aspects of politics.

Candidates must follow strict rules governing campaigning.  The rules are enforced by the Florida Supreme Court.

The court stipulates that judicial candidates must “maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office.

The court also states that candidates “shall not knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other facts concerning the candidate or an opponent.

Committees are not members of the Florida Bar. They can’t be policed by the Bar and the Supreme Court, like lawyers running for judicial office.

In fact, they are policed by almost no one.  That’s why consultants and their lobbyist friends like them.

Of course, the candidate benefiting from the attacks wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Wink wink.  Nod nod.

The hit pieces are the work of an “independent committee, the candidates can tell the pesky Bar.

Wink wink.  Nod nod.

Committees have already polluted city races.

Look what committees did in Fort Lauderdale’s recent race, where former Commissioner Christine Teel was savaged.

Misleading flyers that omitted relevant facts wee mailed to voters.  Featuring a picture of a toilet bowl, Teel was accused of flushing city money down the toilet.

In Plantation, the anonymous folks mailing ads against incumbent Commissioner Rico Petrocelli didn’t  have the guts to even create a group.  The only disclosure was “printed and mailed under rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution, Amendment One.

If that type of non-disclosure, disclosure is allowed to stand, voters won’t be able to trace who paid for these attacks.

The use of committees in a judicial race is too temping to win-at-all-costs campaign consultants.

Judicial candidates will be the next victims of these hit-and-run ads.

You read it here first.

11 Responses to “Committees’ Attack Ads Will Change Judicial Races”

  1. Return of Correct says:

    I say again, it is undignified for anyone to run for judgeships. That is not the proper method of selection. The feds figured this out centuries ago as have some states. But because folks can’t see the wisdom in this, we will have to go through more of this. The economy is down, laywers need steady jobs, and judgeships are among the few that pay decently and offer benefits and pensions. Of course they will use every trick in the book to get elected, and that will demean the bench in the process. Watch and see.

  2. Sean says:

    Not to be a stickler but I think you mean 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. Bank of America Building.

    FROM BUDDY: You are right! Thanks for pointing out my typo. I changed it.

  3. Truth Squad says:

    Please do your research!!! Alex Heckler was not involved in this!!! His entities were Federal and State, not local – and certainly not judicial. Obviously, a political consultant saw where the money going and decided to just use the name of that entity.

    FROM BUDDY: I did my research. Check this out “Truth Squad”. This is who funded 21st Century Florida, according to state records:

    -Campaign Contributions
    21st Century Florida, Inc.
    2006 G4 11/02/2006 210,000.00 NATIONAL FREEDOM ALLIANCE


    National Freedom Alliance

    Type: Electioneering Communications Organization
    Address: 401 East Las Olas Boulevard
    Suite 130-107
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
    Phone: (850)878-5212
    Chairperson: None
    Treasurer: Alexander P. Heckler
    401 East Las Olas Boulevard
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 333010000
    Registered Agent: Alexander P. Heckler
    401 East Las Olas Boulevard
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 333010000

  4. Richard J. Kaplan says:

    As to non-judical races, is any of this new? Unfortunate NO. I’ve heard the same things expressed forever in American Politics. Actually I think it was worse during the 1800’s.

    As to judicial races, it is sad. I don’t have much confidence in the State to address this, and at this point don’t have an answer to the problem.

    However, I have noticed the public doesn’t take well to bad judges. Also, maybe we will get lucky that those that fund these committees put their money with Madoff. I’m sure with the economy the way it is, that political contributions will be somewhat reduced.

  5. Fickle Finger says:

    This type of action will ultimately be another arguement to appoint judges with merit retention.

    From Buddy: I totally agree.

  6. The Ghost says:

    Alex Hecker rode to success on his step-father — Franklin Sands — coattails.

    He is known everywhere as the person to go to if you want to form a committee in a campaign. I heard he was involved in Sunrise and Pembroke Pines on local issues.

    Committees are just another trick lobbyists use to worm their way into the trust of elected officials.

  7. Marty says:

    Alex Heckler was not involved in this!!! Please do not try to ruin his name with this garbage. His entities helped Democrats against REpublicans – that it – the end.

  8. joe says:

    Buddy: You looked on line and followed the distributions from and ECO. Yet, couldn’t some also go on-line and (improperly)use that name on their mailers/communications so it would look like it came from that entity. Connect the dots!!!

  9. Check Facts before Posting! says:

    Alex Heckler had nothing to do with this. I see that you looked into it, but I think something is wrong with the information you have recieved. And Ghost, before commenting, check facts… Alex was in the industry before Franklin was… but nice try.

  10. admin says:


    State records clearly indicate that a committee credited to Alex Heckler funded the judicial race ads. If they are in error, I apologize to Hecker. He should get them corrected.

    To “Marty”: Heckler has been involved in committees in Democratic primaries and in non-partisan city races. There is nothing wrong legally with any of this. But your comment that he only helps Democrats against Republicans is just not accurate.

  11. Committees Are Evil says:

    The difficulty of regulating these things is the First Amendment, which gives freedom of speech. Court decisions have made it clear that commmittees can’t be banned because of freedom of speech. They are definitely going to change the way judges are elected. There will be ads which play on racism. Think big pictures of the white judge compared to the black judge.
    There will be ads attacking candidates for being Republican here, but an Obama-liberal-Democrat in the rest of the state. Personal details in ads like divorces and finances will diminish the dignity of the judiciary. You are right, Buddy. I dread the next judicial elections.