Legislator questions firm's part in lawsuitBy LUCY MORGAN, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief
© St. Petersburg Times
TALLAHASSEE -- House Minority Leader Lois Frankel says lawyers with ties to Gov. Jeb Bush should not represent the state in a lawsuit against Enron because they might try to cover up anything that would embarrass "certain political figures."
In a letter to Tom Herndon, executive director of the State Board of Administration, Frankel challenged the hiring of Entwistle & Cappucci, a New York firm whose Tallahassee partner is Paul Bradshaw, husband of Gov. Jeb Bush's former chief of staff.
Frankel said the highly inflammatory nature of the Enron controversy makes the public skeptical about the ability of politicians to handle the crisis impartially. But Frankel, a Democrat running for governor, has accepted campaign contributions from members of another law firm the state has hired in the same suit to recover more than $300-million in state pension funds lost when Enron collapsed.
Frankel accepted eight contributions Oct. 22 totaling $10,000 from eight lawyers at Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo. The state has hired the Berman and Entwistle firms to handle the suit. The two are vying to be lead counsel.
Asked about the contributions, Frankel said she had no influence over who was hired. "I don't put myself in the same category as Jeb Bush. I'm not on the State Board of Administration, I don't manage the state's pension fund," Frankel said. Bradshaw said he has played no role in the lawsuit. He said Entwistle was chosen because it already is representing the New York City Firefighters and Police Pension Fund against Enron and has a track record representing the Florida pension fund.
Entwistle recovered $142-million for Florida in another lawsuit and has put together a large bloc of plaintiffs in the Enron suit, Bradshaw said.
Katie Baur, a spokeswoman for Bush, said Frankel's accusations are "ludicrous and practically libelous."
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