The race is on. As Governor Charlie Crist eyes a U.S. Senate seat, Florida Senator David Aronberg wants to become Florida’s Attorney General.
Aronberg, a rising star in Florida politics, hopes to return to an office he already knows well. Aronberg previously served twice as assistant attorney general and worked for a year at the U.S. Treasury Department fighting international money laundering.
An attorney at the law firm of Greenspoon Marder in Fort Lauderdale, Aronberg has also worked closely with Insurance Commissioner (now U.S. Senator) Bill Nelson to investigate European insurance companies accused of failing to honor policies sold to victims of the Holocaust after World War II.
But Aronberg is perhaps best known for heading the State of Florida’s lawsuit against “Miss Cleo,” the “Jamaican Shango Shaman psychic” who was at one time an international celebrity among late-night television viewers.
The Real Deal caught up with Aronberg to discuss his approach to housing and mortgage issues should he assume the Attorney General’s perch.
You’ve said you want to be the people’s lawyer. What does that mean?
In today’s challenging economic times, the people of Florida need someone to stand up for them against financial fraud. Florida is leading the nation in foreclosures and mortgage frauds. We are ground zero for consumer fraud. Corporations have their attorneys. Criminals have their attorneys. Con artists have their attorneys. And I want to be the people’s attorney. That’s the way it was under (fomer Attorney General) Bob Butterworth. That’s the way it was when I was there as an assistant attorney general. We raided places and shut them down.
So you will aggressively pursue prosecutions on this front?
Yes. An attorney general needs to stand up for the people against financial fraud and lending abuses. The current attorney general’s office has made Internet predators its one and only focus. But I will also broaden the focus to also include financial fraud and lending abuses. We have to focus on economic predators because that’s what’s affecting our daily lives in this economy.
You’ve been active in the Florida Senate regarding problems with defective Chinese drywall. How do you see that playing out for homeowners?
I’ve called for a statewide task force to develop consistent laws to protect consumers, as opposed to the status quo, where we have 57 different counties and hundreds and hundreds of municipalities passing laws and ordinances. We need a consistent level of consumer protection.
What other issues do you see as major problems for the people of Florida?
We need to enforce the laws that are already [on] the books when it comes to lending abuses, financial frauds, and consumer frauds.
How will your experience in the Florida Senate and as a former assistant attorney general help you serve as attorney general?
I have the right kind of experience for this job. As an assistant attorney general, I worked with the Treasury Department to go after international money laundering. During my last seven years at the Senate I have been a consumer advocate, strengthening our laws in identity theft, protecting our privacy, and closing loopholes in our sex offender laws. I think it’s the right kind of experience to be attorney general.