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Backroom Briefing: Sins of the Father Emerge in Primary Battle

August 25, 2016 - 11:00pm
Bobby Powell and Michael Steinger
Bobby Powell and Michael Steinger

Paternal rap sheets have become an issue in an already-contentious state Senate primary in Palm Beach County.

State Rep. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, and personal-injury attorney Michael Steinger of Palm Beach Gardens had already exchanged volleys about alleged vote-by-mail ballot shenanigans and ties to special interests.

But while that rancor was sadly no different than in many other state and local contests, the acrimony in Senate District 30 reached a different level during the past week.

In a campaign TV ad, Steinger, who has put $490,000 of his own money into the Senate race, included a mug shot of Powell's father.

Powell's father, a previously convicted felon, was arrested in July for aggravated assault. He was alleged to have hit a woman in the head and fired a gun in a Riviera Beach home the Powells have shared.

Steinger said the intent wasn't to make the senior Powell an issue, but to highlight that Bobby Powell talks of supporting gun control yet he allowed a firearm to have been "illegally" kept in his home.

"It seems to go against everything he says," said Steinger, who added he was simply responding to prior negative ads from Powell.

Powell lashed back Monday against the TV spot through an email, which also served as a fundraising message, saying, "This race isn't about our parents --- which is why I've never talked about his father --- this race is about Michael Steinger and me."

But that didn't stop Powell from visiting the sins of Steinger's father.

"If my father were currently serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison after being convicted of running a $1.25 Billion Ponzi scheme (as Mr. Steinger's father Joel is), I don't think I would bring family into things," Powell said in the email.

Joel Steinger was sentenced in 2014, after pleading guilty to financial crimes related to fleecing investors during an insurance scam.


Solar energy currently generates one-tenth of 1 percent of Florida Power & Light's overall energy, according to the company's president, who testified this week before state regulators.

In FPL's current 10-year plan, that number is projected to be roughly 1 percent by 2020 and hold at that mark through the end of the plan in 2025.

FPL President & CEO Eric Silagy said --- when asked about the company's solar forecast --- the lack of increase in the percentage is simply a matter of scale.

"The entire system is growing also, so even when you're adding new solar, it's going to be on a percentage basis, it's still going to be subject to the other generation that's being added," Silagy said in responding to questions from Sierra Club attorney Diana Csank.

In other words, while FPL is currently building 223.5 megawatts of solar facilities, to bring its overall solar output to 330 megawatts, the rest of the grid is also growing.

Silagy's comments came as he was defending the utility's request for a $1.3 billion hike in base rates, something he said is needed to maintain the company's "stability and predictability" while making improvements that include increased use of solar power.

Part of the base rate request is proposed to go toward a 1,600-megawatt natural gas power plant --- enough to serve 300,000 homes --- that is set to start operating in 2019 in Okeechobee County.

Statewide, natural gas accounts for 61 percent of all the power generated by Florida's utilities, 23 percent is from coal, 12 percent is nuclear and the rest falls under solar and other alternative sources.


With a weekend left before Tuesday's primaries, the latest polls and surveys seem to agree that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy will comfortably win the nominations of their respective parties in Florida's U.S. Senate race.

But the outlook is much more up in the air about where such a matchup goes in November.

Rubio commanded a 15.7 percentage-point lead in an online survey released Tuesday by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. On Wednesday, the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economic Polling Initiative put Rubio up 15 points. On Thursday, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research found Rubio up 46 percent to 43 percent over Murphy.

Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo institute, explained in a release with his school's survey that the November outlook could change because it is a "down ballot" contest from an even more-contentious presidential election.

"When the top of your ticket is losing by 14 points, it is difficult (and perhaps not sustainable) to be ahead this comfortably," Orlando wrote. "This (lead) might be due to the fact that Murphy has had to answer many questions about his resume and personal life during the critical rollout of his campaign. Still, if things continue to go south at the top of the ticket, it will become even more difficult for Rubio to hold his lead as Republican voters lose the enthusiasm to go to the polls.”

Saint Leo's findings had Democrat Hillary Clinton up 14 percentage points in Florida over Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race. However, Trump was up 43 percent to 41 percent over Clinton in Florida Atlantic's findings.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: "It's about getting out there and EARNING votes. Not buying them." --- Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith (@PamKeith2016), who launched a "road warrior" tour across the state for the final week before Tuesday's primary.


Although Senate candidate Michael Steinger proclaims on his campaign website that he will “focuses on protecting the rights of victims and their families” he does not seem to have the same compassion within his own law firm. Steiger was sued in 2015 by a paralegal, John Richardson, that he hired in 2008. Mr. Richardson eventually earned his law degree and became one of the Steinger law firms most respected and promoted attorneys. He was so highly regarded in the firm that he was chosen to open a new law office in Fort Myers, but in 2014 he was diagnosed with brain cancer that metastasized from lung cancer. During a two year period of intensive treatment and surgery it is alleged that Michel Steinger reassigned Richardson’s cases and his email was cut off ‘to ensure that none of his clients could contact him.” Steiger told him to “move back east” and then forced him out of the office and out of a well paying job so he could rid himself of an ailing employee. The case was just settled. In court documents, Richardson calls Michael Steinger “the lowest of the low.” The Steinger family has been manipulating the political process for decades. Joel Steinger's stunningly long life of crime has been perpetuated by pumping millions into the political process. The Miami Herald Reported, “Steinger, once a major donor to the Republican Party in Florida, also sought credit for helping the FBI and Justice Department investigate and convict a major GOP fundraiser, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn of Hollywood, who lobbied on behalf of the executive’s company in Tallahassee. Mendelsohn, convicted of tax offenses and released from prison this summer, had asked Steinger for a $400,000 campaign donation back in 2007. As Steinger wore a wire, the physician falsely boasted that he could give some of that money to Gov. Charlie Crist to get him to shut down the federal fraud investigation into Mutual Benefits.” Although Michael Steinger is registered as a democrat, he contributes to Republic candidates and supports Republican issues. He donated thousands of dollars to the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Mike Haridopolos, who was rated A+ by the National Rifles Association. Most Democrats in his district would probably be upset to know that Steinger is helping the Republican agenda.

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