St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Bush signs billboard compensation bill into law
  • Study hints at decade of gains for manatees
  • Bush disavows group, tactics
  • Supreme Court rules against appraiser
  • Religion, class size stir up school bill
  • Battling sides unite over phone bill subsidy plan
  • Press a state stamp on your next letter
  • Fuel leak postpones shuttle launch

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com

    printer version

    Bush disavows group, tactics

    A Republican legislator's group speculates on Democrat Janet Reno's drinking habits and sexual orientation.

    By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 5, 2002


    TALLAHASSEE -- A new group called Americans for Jeb Bush, headed by a Republican state legislator, proclaims itself dedicated to re-electing Florida's governor. But the governor calls it a scam and took extraordinary steps Thursday to put the group out of business.

    In what may be a first in Florida politics, Bush will even seek to register three campaign slogans as trademarks, like Xerox, to stop unauthorized use of his name. The governor sent an e-mail to 20,000 supporters statewide urging them to avoid the group.

    "We're going to do whatever we can to stop them," Bush said during a news conference. "This may sound ridiculous, but I'm going to trademark my name, so I can sue them. ... It's just one of these scams that misrepresents my views and attacks my opponent, and it's not my campaign. I've disavowed it completely."

    Bush took dead aim at a group whose fundraising pitches speculate on Democrat Janet Reno's drinking habits and sexual orientation, and accuse her of going easy on drug dealers while she was state attorney in Miami-Dade in the 1970s and '80s. The letters were signed by the group's honorary chairman, state Rep. Gus Barreiro of Miami Beach.

    Bush sent a strongly worded letter to Barreiro calling on him to repudiate the group. Barreiro refused but said he hopes to meet with Bush today.

    "This organization was formed to deliver the strongest grass-roots organization ever seen in Dade County, and through our state," Barreiro said. "His name is not trademarked. Using his name in campaigns? I don't think you can stop that."

    The group's existence and Bush's aggressive efforts to crush it underscore the high stakes in a governor's race that has drawn national attention because its central figures are the president's brother and the nation's first female attorney general.

    Although he consistently leads every poll, including one taken two weeks ago for the St. Petersburg Times, Bush appears worried about a possible backlash against such tactics by moderate voters, who can be decisive in a competitive race.

    Ben Ginsberg, a Washington lawyer and outside counsel to the campaign, said he would file trademark applications to protect three campaign slogans: "Bush-Brogan 2002," "Jeb Bush for Governor" and "Jeb!"

    Ginsberg is no stranger to Florida politics: He helped shape George W. Bush's Florida legal strategy in the weeks after the 2000 presidential election, and advises Florida Republicans on redistricting .

    Thursday's filing was done to stop the unauthorized use of Bush's name under federal trademark laws, Ginsberg said. The use of a trademarked name for commercial purposes is "outside of First Amendment protection," he said. A proper name cannot be registered, but a name's commercial use can be restricted, Ginsberg said.

    "These are gutter tactics of misuse of a name, as well as personal innuendo against people who are running for office, essentially by people who are just trying to make money off the governor's name," Ginsberg said.

    Barreiro said he is not being paid. "This is not about money," he said. But he said the first fundraising letter, dated March 22, brought in $75,000 in less than three weeks.

    The results are so promising, Barreiro said, he hopes to use the fundraising base to help fellow Miami-Dade lawmaker, Republican Rep. Gaston Cantens, in his campaign to be House speaker.

    Americans for Jeb Bush, based in Miami, is backed partly by Mark Goodrich, a conservative political activist and fundraiser who worked on Rick Lazio's unsuccessful 2000 U.S. Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    The group's Web site resembles a campaign operation, with a logo of the U.S. flag, a portrait of the smiling Bush family, and a link to the official Bush-Brogan site.

    The group's fundraising letter was upfront about its main message: "Stop Janet Reno and re-elect Jeb." Attached was a reprint of an article in Insight magazine, which is affiliated with the Washington Times and owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Also included: a photo of former President Bill Clinton and his dog with Reno's face superimposed on the dog's head.

    Nothing in Florida law prevents such third-party groups from making expenditures on a candidate's behalf, as long as they register as political action committees and disclose contributions and expenses.

    Bush's campaign sent a copy of the Barreiro letter to the Reno campaign.

    "Janet Reno will not engage in personal attacks and she will not support organizations that engage in personal, spiteful attacks," said Nicole Harburger, a Reno campaign spokeswoman. "Will there be a healthy debate on the issues? Yes."

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk