Miami Herald: Trial lawyers hire Obama campaign boss

Feb 11, 2010

The Miami Herald published this article on February 11, 2010.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

In an effort to regain credibility, the powerful trial lawyer lobby hired one of the state’s top Democratic campaign consultants to guide its political strategy.

Steve Schale, 35, the Obama campaign’s Florida director, will serve as political director for the Florida Justice Association, which is limping into the 2010 legislative session after an embarrassing mea culpa last year.

The trial lawyers group distributed a race-baiting flier that warned of violence at the voting booth in a Jacksonville state Senate race. The group’s executive director resigned and political director Albert Balido was demoted.

“The association is trying to make some changes,” Schale said Wednesday.

He said he plans to implement “better institutional controls so something like that doesn’t happen.”

“It’s great to have Steve onboard leading our political team and we look forward to his leadership as we plan for the 2010 election cycle,” said Jacqui Sisto, a spokeswoman for the association.

As part of the deal, Schale will retain his campaign consulting clients, most notably state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami, who is running for attorney general.

Schale said the two positions won’t conflict because the association is not participating in the Democratic primary, where Gelber faces state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres.

Schale, a former legislative aide who began working for the group as a consultant last year, said he will work on campaign activities and not lobby lawmakers.