Geller, Gunzburger Savaged On Internet



The battle between former state Sen. Steve Geller and County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger is being fought by anonymous Internet surfers who bite into opponents with bits downloaded into the comment section of local web sites.

steve geller two


The comment boards of blogs and news sites are the preferred place for political smears in the digital age. 

Although the boards often contain little more than electronic graffiti, they are starting to shape the campaign for county commissioner in southeast Broward.

sue gunzburger




Geller has been savaged by comments contending he is connected to the Mutual Benefits insurance Ponzi scam.   He says he had nothing to do with the illegalities at Mutual Benefits and notes the postings offer no proof.

Gunzburger has been attacked for supposedly benefitting from insider dealing when her late husband sold thousands in plastic benches to the county. She says all contracts for benches were done by low bid.

Are Geller and Gunzburger victims of the Big Lie?

The Big Lie was a phrase used by the Allies in World War II to describe Nazi propaganda.

The theory is that people believe a Big Lie, rather than a small one.  This is  especially true if you repeat the Big Lie over and over again.

In the fight for the commission seat now held by Gunzburger, the Big Lies are driving the campaign.

Both camps plan to attack their opponents with material similar to that spread on the Internet.

The Mutual Benefits scam will be hung around Geller’s neck.  The bus bench deal will be laid at Gunzburger’s feet.  

Geller is conviced the Big Lie about him is being spread by people connected with the Gunzburger campaign. He names Ron Gunzburger, Sue’s computer-savvy son and campaign manager.   

Ron Gunzburger denies involvement with the Internet smears.

Geller says he has nothing to do with the attacks on Gunzburger.

But somebody is doing it and it looks organized. I suspect that if the candidates aren’t sitting at the computers themselves, they know who is.

The latest flurry of e-mail slamming Geller started Wednesday. 

 These attacks were triggered by the federal bust of Hollywood eye doctor Alan Mendelsohn in connection with the Mutual Benefits insurance Ponzi scam.

Several e-mails alleged Geller would be the next person to be arrested.

Thoroughly fed up, Geller issued the following statement to

“I have never been contacted on any level — city, state, federal or pan-galactic level about Mendelsohn or Mutual Benefits. I’m not involved in any way in this. Not involved.

He says that he did get a handful of campaign contributions before the firm was exposed as a fraud, but that was totally legal.

News reports indicate that six political figures have gotten letters stating they are not targets of the Mutual Benefits probe. Geller’s statement, that he had no contact “on any level with the feds, indicates he has not gotten a letter.

Geller points out that Mutual Benefits and its owners gave political contributions to dozens, maybe hundreds, of candidates. If printed reports are to be believed, only six got clearance letters because only six were intimately connected to the probe.

“Why would I get a clearance letter if I never had anything to do with the investigation or Mutual Benefits? I’m not even a witness, Geller said.

Geller says he isn’t lawyered up, either.

That should say something.  Any lawyer like Geller who suspected they were under investigation would get legal representation immediately.

Geller says he’s a victim, a victim of the Big Lie spread by dirty tricksters with a keyboard.

What can candidates do about these anonymous attacks? Learn from Geller and Gunzburger.

Learn that the new frontier for campaigns is the Internet comment boards. Future candidates  need to monitor high-profile local Internet sites and fight back against any attacks.

What are your thoughts?

Let the comments begin below. And like those who write on walls in the subway, you don’t have to sign your name.

21 Responses to “Geller, Gunzburger Savaged On Internet”

  1. Yawwwwn says:

    Nothing new about any of this. Lamberti, Lemack and Israel all did this stuff last year in the sheriff race. Judge candidate and judges themselves do this every day on the Jaablog site. Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood city commission and mayor candidates did this for months on the Sun Sentinel site. Now Geller and Gunzburger are doing it. Yawwnnn. The next time it will be other candidates. I find most of it pretty boring to be honest because its always the same kind of things being said again and again. Geller seems surprisingly thinskinned cuz he and his peeps always seem to be complaining in the blogs about everything. (Don’t know that any of the Geller rumors are true, maybe theyre all garbage, who knows?)

  2. Steve Geller says:


    I just finished reading your excellent piece on viscious attacks on the internet. Let me respond, and offer some suggestions.

    First, I must admit that I hate the anonymous blogs, although I realize that we cannot prevent them. On the exceptionally rare occasions when I post, I sign my name. If people are not willing to sign their names, the readers should largely discount what the post says. My campaign manager has told me that he almost never blogs, and when he does, he signs his name. I ask my opponent’s campaign managers, which I understand (but do not warrant) are Ron Gunzburger and Barbara Miller, to do the same.

    Sue Gunzburger has spent 27 years in public office, and will have spent 28 years at the time of the election. I spent 20 years in the Legislature before I retired. We both should have records of accomplishments that we can campaign on. We should be campaigning on our vision for the future for Broward County, not engaging in attacks on each other. We should be giving the voters a choice between two qualified candidates, not asking them to choose the lesser of two evils.

    I believe that Sue and I should agree to run a campaign where we each focus on our own records and views of the future. I’ve made that suggestion on this blog before, but it has not been accepted. I’m making it again.

    I believe that an examination of the blog attacks clearly shows that the majority of the attacks have been made on me, not on Sue. I’ve tried to restrain my supporters from attacking Sue at this time, because I still hope that we can agree to run a clean campaign. Sue and I have been friends in the past. I ask Sue to ask her supporters to turn down the attack level, so that we can get to the point of running a clean campaign. Look at Aronberg and Gelber. They’re running against each other while remaining friends. Their election is on the same date as the election between Sue and me.

    It makes my blood boil at the outright falsehoods told on the blogs. Many of them are also written in the classic “have you stopped beating your wife” questions, requiring a yes or no answer. There is no acceptable answer.

    When Buddy asked me if I’d recieved a “clearance letter” from the FBI, that’s one of those questions. If you say “yes”, then that shows that at one time you were a suspect. If you say “no”, then they say “aha, you’re still a suspect!” Buddy doesn’t mention that I asked him if he had his clearance letter. There are about 20 million Floridians. Of these, about 20 million don’t have clearance letters. Since I have never had anything to do with the investigation, have never been contacted by any investigator for any government agency at any level, am not even a witness because of my absolutely limited involvement with Mutual Benefits or Alan Mendelsohn (both of which gave primarily to Republicans), why would I get a letter stating that I’d been cleared of something in which I’ve never been involved. This is Kafkaesque. Where is Sue’s clearance letter? I believe that we both have the same level of involvement, which is to say, none.

    I do not generally respond to all of the lies posted on these blogs. I lack the heart for this dirty mud-wrestling. My wife has pointed out to me a great quote: “when you wrestle a pig in a pigsty, neither you nor the pig generally wins, but the pig enjoys it”. This simply should not be the quality of this campaign.

    Sue and I can work out the details of a clean campaign pledge. They should include an agreement to talk about our own records, not mention our oppenents by name (referring to each other as “my opponent” or something similar), and agreeing to jointly disavow personal attacks on either. The alternative will not be the kind of election that we should want.

    And yes, Buddy, I know that this post will atract new personal attacks from my opponents supporters or campaign. Won’t that just prove my point?

    Sue: How’s about it? Candidate to Candidate. Can we clean this up?

    Steve Geller

  3. The truth says:

    Yaaawn is right and wrong. He is right it has happened before, but wrong because this is a campaign tactic by Ron Gunzburger to smear Geller, not just some bloggers. No story and no comment have proved anyhthing against Geller. The attacks continue here and in tabloid the New Times that has to be given away because they could never sell it.

  4. Let's clear the facts says:

    The fact that Geller is man enough to attempt an olive branch of positive campaigning with his opponent, which has been continuely ignored by them, shows the type of character and integrity that he has. If I wasn’t already going to vote for Geller, I definately would vote for him now. I think he’ll be a positive force on the county commission!

  5. Sue Gunzburger says:

    Good Evening Steve!

    Thanks for your note to Buddy, as this may be one thing we can generally agree upon.

    I appreciate the enthusiasm and support of my family, campaign staff and volunteers — just as you do for yours. We certainly each have our share of overly zealous supporters (including a few “others” who seem to enjoy taking shots at both of us). To be honest, I’m sure we both appreciate our supporters’ well-meaning zeal, even when we can each recognize they cross the line from time to time.

    So let me first give you some free advice, tendered in the same spirit as yours: Stop reading blog comments! While I read the stories on blog and newspaper websites, I rarely ever read the anonymous blog comments. Candidly, I wouldn’t have thought to read this blog thread had Ron not just told me about your posted note. Avoiding the blog comments helps keep more calm and balanced during a tough campaign. I don’t need the annoyance of coming to the blogs and reading the misleading comments frequently posted by your anonymous backers making false accusations against my late husband. It certainly angered me a lot when your backers frequently tried to hide behind fake names and smear Gerry’s memory with lies. Thus, by my not reading the lies (or rarely reading them, since I must admit I look at them once in a while), I don’t get very worked up by them these days. I’d suggest you do likewise. I’m sure my family (Ron, Cindy, Judy and the grandchildren) would appreciate a more pleasant tenor every bit as much as Laurel and your kids.

    Second: I’d join you in urging all of our supporters to simply not post anything — ANYTHING!! (good, bad or otherwise) — about our race in these blog threads. I understand how you, Ron (my campaign manager), David (your campaign manager), Ilana, Marty, and others may want to comment or respond, but let’s all try to resist the temptation. Please.

    Third: We are and hopefully continue to have a fairly cordial relationship. But I must disagree with you on one point: I have trouble considering you a true “friend” these days as you are running against me (and a real “friend” would not do so, even if he was term-limited out of office in Tallahassee).

    Fourth: you are right about legitimate differences existing between the two of us. Differences that are relevant, documented, and deserving of discussion. I agree our political views, visions, priorities and records are often rather different. You have been a staunch advocate for greatly expanded high-rise development, while I’ve been a vocal environmentalist who worked to create more (and better) parks and renourished beaches in Broward. You were a “Blue Dog” conservative Democrat in Tallahassee, while I’m proudly a liberal Democrat (although I’m enough of a fiscal conservative to have successfully helped block any county property tax rate increases for over a decade now). I’m a former public school teacher and family therapist, while you’re an attorney and lobbyist. I’ve lived without interruption in Hollywood and in this district since 1968, while you haven’t lived in our district (or even in this part of Broward) for roughly 15 years. These, I’m sure you’d agree, are fair points for discussion. So let’s stick to real and quantifiable differences — and let’s stick to the truth.

    So yes, let’s please set aside for another day (next year) any discussions of Mutual Benefits and plastic lumber.

    Finally, Steve, my best wishes to you and Laurel for the Jewish New Year. Congratulations to you also on your son’s upcoming bar mitzvah. And happy new year to you, too, Buddy.

    Warmest regards,

    Sue Gunzburger
    County Commissioner
    District 6 – Democrat

  6. Sue Oh Sue says:

    Geller has a sincere appeal for reason in this race, while Gunzburger uses the opportunity to campaign. She is a weasel.

  7. Steve and Sue says:

    Is it just me, or is the irony in this exchange between the two candidates thick as molasses.

    Here’s a newsflash. It isn’t either of your races. It’s the people’s race. And it’s not about what “friends” run against one another. Neither of you know what the word friend means, don’t have any friends in a normal human context, and are certainly not friends because there are no friends in politics.

    As to anonymous blogging, the content and your feelings about the appropriateness of same, forgive this mild suggestion, but fuck you. The world has changed and people with it. We now have a voice to ask our questions and voice our opinions. At long last the people get to be the columnists.

    Don’t want questions about Mutual Benefits, Steve? Stop hanging around unsavory creeps like the Steingers. You knew they were creeps and you became buddies with them. As your wife suggests, it was YOU that threw yourself into that pigsty. You have no fucking right to complain when thousands of us notice all that mud on your suit, you brought that on yourself.

    And Sue, we are all sorry that Gerry died and we mean that sincerely. But Geller suggests that you used your official juice to get Gerry’s plastic wood sold, and if that’s true you need to say so, and if not you need to be clear.

    This is NOT your election Sue and Steve. It is our election as the voters. We have the right to bring up issues and you have the obligation to respond. You do not have the right to conspire, on line, to limit public discourse. What gives you the arrogance to even think you can?

  8. Steve Geller says:


    I was a little disappointed that in our discussion on trying to run a civil race, you chose to attack me, and I obviously disagree with some of your contentions. however, in the interest of trying to move forward, I’ll take some of your advice, and not respond to the things I disagree with in your post.

    Based upon what I read, I’m hoping that the quality of the blog comments improves, and the visciousness and lies told lessen. We’ll see, and let the public judge who tries to comply.

    I’ll repeat what the offer that I made is, and see if you’re willing to accept, because it’s not what you’re reply indicated. I’m proud of what I accomplished in Tallahassee. Despite Democrats being outnumbered almost two to one, as Senate Democratic Leader, I was able to blunt some of the worst of the Republican excesses. I was continuously recognized for my hard work and fighting for improvement of Education funding. I was a recognized National leader in fighting for lower Property Insurance rates, a fight that I continue to wage. I sucessfully authored major legislation for children with Autism. I fought for job creation, and to support the Environment,etc.

    I again state that I’m willing to campaign on my record and my vision for Broward, as opposed to my campaigning against your record. If you’re as proud of what you’ve done as I am of what I’ve done, I invite you to accept this, and let’s run a race that the people of South Broward can be proud of, one devoid of attacks on the other candidate.

    I am pleased that we’re comunicating candidate to candidate. That’s the way it should be done. Buddy: Thanks.

    On a personal note, again, Shana Tova (happy Jewish new year) to you and your family. I was at your Temple last night for a Bar Mitzvah, and have to run to go there right now. Perhaps I’ll see you at services.

    And “Sue oh Sue”, I have no idea who you are, but calling people “weasel”s does not improve the quality of the debate. Please let’s turn down the rhetoric.

    Senator Steve Geller
    Senate Democratic Leader, 2006-2008

  9. Monica says:

    The cool thing about the New Times is that its writers aren’t obligated to dumb down their pieces to pacify their advertisers. Yep, they give away the New Times and it’s still far better than the Sun Sentinel, which I actually used to pay for on a daily basis. Nowadays, I only buy the SS on Sunday for the coupons and sale circulars. This is a direct result of the complete lack of any sort of decent local news reporting and constant regurgitation of AP wire articles.

    Funny, the New Times can give away their paper and still have good, hard-hitting old-style journalism while the SS charges a subscription fee and can’t manage to produce any sort of local news coverage worth reading.

    It amuses me that people call the New Times a rag, and yet are still compelled to read it.

  10. Sue Gunzburger says:

    To “Steve and Sue”:

    You asked: “Geller suggests that you used your official juice to get Gerry’s plastic wood sold, and if that’s true you need to say so, and if not you need to be clear.”

    My answer: Gerry’s recycling company competitively bid on and won a County contract as the LOWEST BIDDER on a SEALED BID selection BEFORE I was ever elected to the County Commission. After I was elected, I believe his company participated in two more sealed competitive bid processes. He lost one, and later won one more as the lowest bidder. I did NOT vote on awarding any of those contracts to avoid a conflict of interest (which I announced at the time). Hopefully, this is a sufficiently clear response.


  11. Steve and Sue II says:

    Sue: I thank you for that explanation. Now nobody can say that you didn’t respond with clarity.

    Steve: Sue has explained her plastic wood issue. What explanation do you offer for getting chummy with Joel Steinger and taking campaign funds from Mutual Benefits, knowing as you should have, as point person on insuramce in the Senate, that they were involved in highly shaddy activity and might even be criminals?

  12. Blue Man Scoop says:

    You really believe that Geller should have known? Any candidate knows that you take everybody’s money who wants to give.

    Most people think that politicians focus on who gave to them. The truth is that most only care about who gave to their opponent…

  13. What About Ron says:

    The benches were on low bid?!?!?!
    What about Little Ronnie? It is well known that you, Sue, got Little Ronnie every job he has had. I seem to remember that he worked for a lobbyist that lobbied you at the county. Everybody talked about that one. He now works for your good friend Lori Parrish on a make-work job. Can’t he get a real job? I guess he is too busy managing your campaign.

  14. Yo Blue Man says:

    Let Geller respond for himself. He has been asked the direct question. Let’s see what if anything he has to say. Gunzburger went on the record with her side. I want to hear his, from him and only from him.

  15. Lori Parrish says:

    To What About Ron:

    Ron Gunzburger works for me for only one reason…he is a great lawyer. Most of our legal work is handled in house by Ron.

    I might add he was a part time employee for Bill Markham and then for Rocky.

    The reason he is still there has nothing to do with politics. He is excellent at his job.

    Lori Parrish

  16. Steve Geller says:

    Steve and Sue:

    I normally don’t reply, but since Sue and I are opening up on this one, I will.

    First, because you went after both Sue and I, I assume that you aren’t part of either campaign. My complaints are about those clearly orchestrated blog attacks that are clearly the work of a campaign. And you’re misquoting the quote I used from my wife. That was a warning not to engage and respond to every blog article.

    Let’s talk about Mutual. You made the mistake of starting by assuming that I was close friends with Mutual, and should have known better. Not the case.

    I thought that the Viatical industry was dirty, and in 1999 introduced legislation to clean it up. A well known, well respected pillar of the legal community, Michael McNerny, showed up and told me that he represented the largest viatical company in the country, that they were located in my Senate district, and that they wanted to help pass the legislation because they were the good guys, and wanted to put out of business unethical companies who were hurting the reputation of the industry. They did testify in favor of and help pass very tough legislation which I sponsored that, at the time, was among the toughest regulation of Viaticals in the country. At the time, I’d never heard the name Joel Steinger.

    Mutual became one of the largest philanthropic contributors in town. You could not attend any major charitable function without seeing one of the Steinger/Steiner brothers. At some point, probably at charity functions, I would have been introduced to them. Mutual also gave heavily to political campaigns, primarily to Republicans.

    In 2002, Mutual’s Tallahassee lobbying firm dissolved. I don’t remember who it was. Someone from Mutual, one of the largest employers in my district, asked me for a referral for a new firm. I gave them three names, which I always did if anybody asked for a referral. They picked one of the three. That’s all.

    I never represented Mutual or any of their companies or any of the family members as an attorney. I assume that a company as large as Mutual had boats or planes. If they did, I was never on them. I never introduced legislation for Mutual. The Senate Insurance Committee chair (a Republican) intreoduced a bill supported by Mutual. It passed unanimously through every committee. It passed 37-1 through the Senate and 113-1 through the house. Everybody voted for it. At the time, it was not considered contraversial.

    To the extent that there was any contraversy in Tallahassee involving Mutual, it was seen as an internal Republican fight between Crist supporters and Gallagher supporters. Gallagher was reportedly supported by a rival viatical company. You’ll have to check with Republicans to find out if any of that was true.

    According to published reports and indictments, Mutual contributed at least $3 million dollars between 2000 and 2004, reflecting 3 election cycles. Most of it went to Republicans or Republican fundraisers. For example, they apparently gave $500,000 in one election to a local Republican’s race for State Representative. As their local senator, they gave me some contributions, but not very much. Apparently, they gave me less than $20,000 combined over 3 election cycles. Several lobbyists have each raised more than that in this one election for my opponent.

    My involvement with Mutual was minimal. My contributions from Mutual were minimal. I had no reason to believe that one of the largest employers and philanthropic contributors in my district was “dirty”. My involvement in any investigation into them is non-existant.

    This is the clear short version answer. I trust you’re satisfied with this answer.

  17. Trying to Be Objective says:

    Michael McNerney can be described in many ways. “A well respected pillar of the legal community” is not the way most would choose to describe him. It’s shocking to hear Steve Geller describe him that way.

    McNerney was indicted and faces federal charges together with defendants Joel Steinger, Steven Steiner, and Anthony Livoti, Jr., for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, and who knows what else will get added.

    As a Senator that was very much familiar with insurance matters, and having previously concluded that the viatical industry was “dirty” you’d think a much greater degree of caution would have been shown by Geller when presented with an opportunity to exchange favor with a company like Mutual Benefits. To the contrary, Senator Geller did not displayed eagerness to cozy up to them, even to the point of hand selecting a list of lobbyists that they could choose from to carry their message to Tallahassee. If that’s not helping a company that the Senator himself says was in a dirty business, I don’t know what is. And then to accept campaign contributions from them?

    This is disturbing.

    By the way, shouldn’t he be signing his name as Former Senator Steve Geller?

  18. County Employee says:

    I work in the government center nd you couldn’t pay me enough to work for Lori Parrish. She’s really demanding and constantantly pushing her staff to do more more more. She’s never satisfied. You can see how stressed out all her staff is just by looking t them. I’ve also heard she has a very high turnover rate because she fires so many people. I’d be surprised if she has any make-work jobs in her office, and I wouldn’t take a job like that if I had to work for her! Everyone in there is afraid of her. The staff was a lot happier when William Markham was their boss.

  19. Steve Geller says:

    To: Not trying to be objective:

    Thank you for your response. It proved several of the points that I’ve been making.

    Your post demonstrates why I don’t and won’t engage in responses on blogs. It’s a no-win situation for a candidate. I don’t think anyone that read your post thinks that you’re objective. Your knowledge of the Mutual case exceeds mine. I could not have told you who Anthony Livoti was until your post.

    Your remarks about Mike McNerney strongly prove one of my points. Just for the sake of argument here, let’s ignore the fact that he hasn’t been convicted of anything, and let’s say he’s guilty, a fact not proven. What would I have known about him during the years he was representing Mutual and spoke with me? Florida Bar Board of Governors. Past President, Broward County Trial Lawyers Association. Chairman, University of Florida Law Center, Board of Trustees. Chairman, Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Downtown Council. Volunteer General Counsel, Bonnet House. Second name Partner in one of the largest Law Firms in Broward(Brinkley, McNerney, Morgan Harris, etc.). Yes, that qualifies as a “pillar of the legal community”. I also remind you that Mutual was one of the largest philanthropic contributors in Broward, as well as one of the largest employers in my district. It’s not reasonable in general to claim years later that politicians should have known that pillars of the community that they had any contacts with, however slight, would be indicted, and that the politicians are therefore guilty by association.

    Viaticals and life settlements were a dirty business when I sucessfully set out to regulate them. My legislation prevented the ads that referred to viaticals as “guanteed” or “insured”. It gave the Department of Insurance the ability to regulate sales tactics and advertisements. It required a life insurance license to act as a viatical salesperson. It regulated Life Settlements for the first time. It did lots of other things. Today, life settlements are sold by many large companies, such as HSBC, Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Deutsche Bank, etc. My legislation took major steps towards cleaning up that industry.

    I will now resume my prior stance of not responding on these boards. It appears that my request for civility and a moratorium on attacks will not work, as I predicted, and as the prior post shows.

    And by the way, I like Lori Parrish.

    Steve Geller

  20. admin says:


    I was curious about Senator
    Geller continuing to use the title, too.
    I found Practical Protocal for Floridians issued by the Florida House. It states that “Senators enjoy the lifetime courtesy title.” Just like a judge or the president.
    So Geller is right to call himself senator….Buddy Nevins

  21. Blogging With The Stars says:

    Wow…don’t these people do anything for a living?

    I find it hard to believe that these political “stars” have to use Buddy Nevins’ blog to communicate.

    My opinion? They both have extensive baggage and too much money to protect it.

    Wish an honorable candidate would step forward, but then again…this is Broward County.