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Friday Morning Hits

-- Remember those shady attack ads aimed at Florida Attorney General candidate Dan Gelber accusing him of being "toxic to Jewish education"?

Initially, it didn't appear that Gelber's opponent, Pam Bondi, was involved in the smear. Her campaign denied she had any knowledge of the attack ads, and they were funded through a 527 committee by a right-wing group in Washington, D.C., called the American Federation for Children, which is backed by the Amway fortune.

Well, now we learn that there is a connection between Bondi's campaign and the American Federation for Children. A marital one, to be exact. The vice chairman of the American Federation for Children is a man named John Kirtley. Kirtley has a wife named Kim Kirtley. Guess what? Kim Kirtley is Pam Bondi's communications director and spokeswoman.

This makes Bondi's denial a little harder to believe, but her spokeswoman, Kirtley, says there's nothing to it.

"In response to your questions -- I reiterate that neither the campaign, or me personally, had any knowledge of the flier," Kirtley emailed the Pulp. "John and I are both professionals who work in the political process, but his work is his own, and mine is my own."

Perhaps, but Gelber supporter and South Florida attorney Bruce Udolf doesn't buy it.

"The claim that it's a coincidence doesn't pass the straight face test," Udolf said. 

-- Really, Sheriff Al Lamberti? This is what your deputies are out doing, confiscating pot pipes -- er, I mean finely wrought tobacco accessories -- from vendors at the Swap Shop? This is what I'm paying you for? Please try to focus on crimes where there are actual victims next time, OK?  

-- The Russ Adler deposition seems to have been very uneventful. Bankruptcy attorney Chuck Lichtman and Adler had a few spats, but otherwise it seems to have been lacking in fireworks. The year anniversary of the story's breaking is right around the corner. This time last year, Scott Rothstein was already in Morocco with $17 million in the bank, walking around Casablanca and Rabat like he was going to buy the place.

-- Channel 10's report on the crushing handshake aired last night. Solid report by WPLG's Roger Lohse, one of the best TV journalists in town. There's no link that I can find on Channel 10

As far as I can tell, the four key witnesses in this thing might be: Broward Teachers Union steward Joan King, Bob Sutton, Coral Springs Forum reporter Arun Sivasankaran, and All County Music store owner Fred Schiff. Sivasankaran and Schiff -- a former campaign contributor to Stephanie Kraft -- have ducked my calls.

Sivasankaran has been completely silent, though the photograph he took of Thomas and Levine with Sutton after the handshake was shared with WPLG. His newspaper is of course owned by the Sun-Sentinel, which posted a version online that was at one point the most popular story on its website yesterday. What kind of "journalism" is this? Sivasankaran was there; he should write a story about what he saw, whatever it might be. Sutton told me that Sivasankaran asked him after the handshake, "Did you see that?"

What I want to know is what Sivasankaran saw (try to say those last two words five times fast).

Inside, see the Channel 10 report. It's good.  

Here's the Channel 10 report:

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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