The mainstream press did a dismal job covering Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe‘s decision to abandon his reelection effort, supposedly, allegedly, for a job in the private sector.
There’s been no perspective offered. No explaining. No questioning.
Oh, McAuliffe’s new job is real — but the official excuses for his not running again aren’t.
So, here are 10 things you should know, or question, when it comes to McAuliffe’s exit:
1. If you think McAuliffe is going to last in his new job as manager of Palm Beach billionaire Bill Koch‘s legal team in West Palm Beach, you’re more naive than the TV reporters who blindly accepted McAuliffe’s word. Koch, No. 81 on the Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans, is an aggressive, hard-driving Republican energy tycoon. McAuliffe’s a liberal government lawyer whose aggression is usually reserved for those who criticize him. Why would Koch want the headaches of this unlikely pairing? Koch’s not the Salvation Army: If he’s hiring McAuliffe, who was accused of displaying an imperious management style and owning a dismal conviction rate, then there’s a financial reason buried deep underneath the layers of Koch’s Oxbow.
2. When McAuliffe heads to work on rainy mornings, an assistant meets him on the street with an umbrella and escorts him into the office. Ya think Bill Koch will provide an umbrella carrier?
3. McAuliffe had no intention of appearing before the media yesterday. He believed that a simple statement would be enough. His hundreds of supporters? Let them eat cake! It took a meeting with Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to talk common public relations sense into McAuliffe. The hurriedly-called afternoon press conference, by the way, took place at PBSO headquarters, not at the State Attorney’s Office, and in the presence of the sheriff.
4. The way McAuliffe handled his announcement blindsided most of his confidantes, including Bradshaw. It’s having many on his staff quietly question McAuliffe’s appreciation for their hard work.
5. McAuliffe lured trusted assistant Scott Richardson from a lucrative criminal law practice on the pretense that McAuliffe would be State Attorney for at least eight years.
6. Even trashier: McAuliffe’s spokeswoman, Sarah Alsofrom, a pro at her trade and a reliable worker, learned that her boss wouldn’t run for a second term from the press release she sent out.
7. McAuliffe’s now claims he never intended to be a long-term politician. Oh, please! McAuliffe was supposed to attend a reelection fundraiser at probate lawyer John Pankauski‘s law firm tomorrow and had dozens of events planned. And his wife, Judge Robin Rosenberg, used to introduce him in society as “the next governor of Florida.”
8. The timing of McAuliffe’s announcement is uncanny. False rumors had been floating for a week that former State Senator Dave Aronberg would announce his candidacy today. I’m told McAuliffe knew he would’ve lost to fellow Democrat Aronberg and wanted to save face.
9. When he ran in 2007, McAuliffe’s campaign staff discussed the then-fresh John Edwards baby mama scandal and asked McAuliffe what he thought. “Don’t worry about me,” he said, according to a source close to McAuliffe. “I’d never do anything like that. (Wife) Robin would kill me!”
10. McAuliffe’s claims criticism heaped on him by Gossip Extra and the law enforcement-oriented Seaview AM 960 talkshow The Beat (where I appear at 7 p.m. with retired cops Rick Sessa and Dan Henry) didn’t precipitate his decision is unadulterated bunk. The truth — the fact that alternative media did get under McAuliffe’s skin — should make the taxpayers of Palm Beach County feel good. For the first time in memory, it clearly shows a shift of power locally from the failing mainstream press to small alternative media, at least when it comes to watching elected officials.