See updates, below
A mailer that hit homes in Wilton Manors, the unofficial capital of South Florida’s gay community, attempts to portray Sheriff Al Lamberti as anti-gay. Like many other attacks (from both sides) that come in the final weeks of election season it isn’t true – according to attorney and longtime gay community activist Norm Kent.
The mailer is dramatic. On one side is Democrat Scott Israel’s campaign picture along with an endorsement from former Hollywood cop Michael Verdugo, who praises Israel as a supporter of gay rights.
(Verdugo is an interesting choice for an endorsement mailer. He was fired by the Hollywood Police Department for failing to disclose on his job application that he’d been a gay porn actor. He said it was discrimination because he was gay.)
The other side purports to describe Republican Sheriff Al Lambert’s “shocking anti-gay record.”
Lamberti actually has strong support in the gay community, including from many Democrats.
In election endorsement ads, the GLBT Alliance endorses a slate of Democrats – except in the sheriff’s race, in which it endorses Republican Lamberti.
Dean Trantalis, the first openly gay member of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, put out his list of election endorsements, as he does every election season. He picks only Democrats – even in the race for clerk of circuit court even thought he incumbent is challenged only by a write in candidate whose name won’t appear on the ballot. Conspicuously, Trantalis didn’t endorse in the sheriff’s race. He’s running to return to the City Commission, which would make it politically dicey for him to publicly endorse Lamberti.
Kent was especially strong in his comments about the attempt to label Lamberti as anti-gay.
“Lamberti’s four-year term in office has been marked by stunning and supportive outreach to the LGBT community at every turn, including his tenacious support for prosecuting hate crimes…. If you want to support a different candidate for sheriff, you have that right. But you don’t have the right to demean this sheriff’s exemplary conduct and outreach to he LGBT community in the last four years. We cannot let that stand,” Kent wrote.
Update: Ron Gunzburger, an openly gay political activist who's working on behalf of Israel, said the GLBT Alliance doesn't reflect the gay community. He said it's a corporation, not a group, and said it's leaders have benefitted financially from Lamberti.
Gunzburger has had great animus toward Lamberti since the the 2010 campaign in which his mother, Sue, won re-election to the County Commission. The Sheriff's Office conducted a short-lived investigation into Sue Gunzburger during the primary campaign in which she ran for the Democratic Party nomination. It didn't uncover any wrongdoing.
Update two: Lamberti is rolling out two more Democratic endorsements Friday afternoon.
He's getting support from Scott Maddox, former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, and Paige Carter-Smith, the state Democratic Party's former executive director.