Several prominent litigators, including attorneys from GrayRobinson and Holland & Knight, will spar as legal action heats up over the results of Florida’s midterms.
Late Thursday, the U.S. Senate campaign for outgoing Gov. Rick Scott filed complaints against the supervisors of elections for Palm Beach and Broward counties, alleging a lack of transparency in the process of counting absentee and provisional ballots.
Broward attorney William “Bill” Scherer is working with Scott’s Senate campaign on its case. Scherer, a founding partner of Conrad & Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, told the Daily Business Review his client is concerned that voter fraud might have occurred.
“There’s a concern that there is illegal activity going on, not just negligence,” Scherer said. “But even if there’s negligence, there’s gross negligence.”
Scherer worked with President George W. Bush during recount efforts in Broward Country during the 2000 presidential election when South Florida drew the national limelight. The attorney, a prominent mainstay of the Republican Party, asserted it’s no coincidence that Broward has continually been a hot spot for election mishaps.
“How legitimate and valid are these folks?” Scherer asked. “Is there a snafu, or something that’s intentionally going on?”
When reached for comment, George Levesque, a GrayRobinson shareholder listed in both of Scott’s Palm Beach County and Broward complaints, directed further inquiries to Kerri Wyland with Scott’s campaign.
The Scott campaign has no comment by deadline Friday. The supervisors of elections also did not reply by deadline.
Meanwhile, litigation is heating up in another race: the battle for governor between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum. That fight has also drawn some of the nation’s largest law firms, with Tripp Scott CEO Edward Pozzuoli representing the Republican Party of Florida. Barry Richard, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig, has been confirmed for Gillum’s legal team. Richard represented President Bush in Florida litigation over the 2000 presidential election.
Democrats have retained Berger Singerman co-founder Mitchell Berger in Fort Lauderdale and partner Leonard Samuels.
Miami attorney Benedict P. Kuehne of Kuehne Davis Law is also monitoring the litigation for Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried, who is seeking a post in the state Cabinet and has the tightest race by vote count, taking a 3,005-vote lead out of more than 8 million votes cast into Friday’s court hearings.
And Lisa Crawford, with Austin Pamies Norris Weeks in Fort Lauderdale, is supporting the work of Broward County Attorney Andrew Meyers and assistants Joseph Jarone and Rene Harrod representing the Broward County Canvassing Board.
Along with Scherer, here are the attorneys on the legal team for Scott’s Senate campaign:
Rodz is a partner in the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen, an Am Law 200 Florida-based law firm with 290 attorneys in eight offices across the state. Rodz — who chairs the firm’s Cuba task force and its diversity committee — filed the Scott campaign’s complaint in Palm Beach County. According to the Shutts & Bowen website, she serves as lead trial counsel for companies litigating in state and federal courts, in arbitration and before administrative agencies.
Scherer told the DBR that Shutts & Bowen attorney Ben Gibson is helping to represent the Scott campaign in Palm Beach County. Gibson is a partner at Shutts & Bowen’s Tallahassee office where he serves as vice chair of the appellate practice group. His bio on the firm’s website notes he served as Scott’s deputy general counsel. He’s also advised the governor on the appointment of judges to Florida courts.
William “Bill” Scherer
Scherer has been a major player in Florida law and politics for several decades. The Sun Sentinel described him as a “prominent Fort Lauderdale lawyer and Republican fundraiser” in a July 2014 article reporting on his involvement with the Scott’s administration’s fraud case against a Port St. Lucie company. The story also reports Scherer “gave $10,000 toward Scott’s ‘Let’s Get to Work’ re-election committee” in 2013, in addition to helping to host a fundraiser for the governor that same year. Scott appointed his daughter, Elizabeth Scherer, to the Broward Circuit Court bench, where she is presiding over the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Metz is an associate with GrayRobinson’s West Palm Beach office and is listed as counsel on Scott’s complaint against Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County. According to her bio, Metz specializes in complex commercial litigation at the trial and appellate levels.
Levesque, a shareholder in GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office, is listed on both Scott’s Palm Beach County and Broward complaints. Before joining GrayRobinson in 2016, Levesque served as special counsel and policy adviser to the Florida House speaker and general counsel to both the state House and Senate.
Andre “Andy” Bardos
Bardos is a GrayRobinson shareholder with an extensive history in Florida politics. His bio on the GrayRobinson website lists him as having represented the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in redistricting litigation, as well as Florida’s Department of State in constitutional challenges to election laws.
Christopher Carmody Jr.
Carmody is a shareholder with GrayRobinson in its Orlando and Tallahassee offices. His biography on the firm’s website touts his legal work for the Central Florida Sports Commission and his handling of “numerous high-level sports matters at the legislative level, including tax exemptions, workers’ compensation and other matters that affect sports franchises.”
Zimmerman, a shareholder at GrayRobinson’s Orlando office, is listed as having experience with “the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and congressional investigations and defending antitrust assertions in Multi-District Litigation proceedings” by the firm’s website.
Lukis began working with GrayRobinson at the firm’s Orlando office before transferring to Tallahassee. Now a senior associate with the firm, Lukis represents both public and private clients on administrative law and general civil litigation, according to her online bio.
Aaron, an associate in GrayRobinson’s Orlando office, previously served as a law clerk in Scott’s Office of the General Counsel. Aaron also interned for Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson.
Miguel De Grandy
De Grandy, a partner in Holland & Knight’s Miami office, has been recruited to join the litigation team for the Republican Party of Florida. He is the firm’s practice group leader for the South Florida government advocacy and development group and served in the state House from 1989 to 1994.
Richard “Rick” Perez
Richard “Rick” Perez is a partner at Holland & Knight working with De Grandy. Working from the Miami office, Perez specializes in real estate, land use and governmental advocacy. He previously served as general counsel in the Florida Department of State, which includes the state Division of Elections.
A Nov. 8 tweet from President Donald Trump said the Democrats recruited “election stealing lawyer” Marc Elias on behalf of the Florida recount efforts. Elias, who chairs Perkins Coie’s political law group in Washington, D.C., represents Nelson and is a well-known litigator who previously served as general counsel for Hillary Clinton in addition to working on her presidential campaign.
The CEO of Tripp Scott has been retained by the Florida Republican Party for election litigation.
Richard, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig, is working for Gillum’s legal team. As noted on the Greenberg Traurig website, Richard represented President Bush in Florida litigation filed after the 2000 presidential election.
The Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm co-founder is serving as the attorney for Brenda Snipes, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. In June 2013 Pettis became the first black litigator to preside as president of the Florida Bar.