Ex-Governor Tries To Silence A Critic With A Bar Complaint; Gains Critic 70,000+ New Twitter Followers
from the twist everyone saw coming dept
Of course, that’s not what Huckabee actually wanted to do. He wanted his privatizing of the area where water meets land to remain as unnoticed as he wishes his front yard was. But if we’ve learned anything at all over the years, it’s that the more you try to stop people from talking about your beachfront property, the less likely it is that you’ll get them to stop talking about it.
Huckabee’s $6 million mansion in the Florida panhandle proves money can’t buy quite as much happiness as it used to. Huckabee thought he had purchased a chunk of beach to go with his beach house. Florida beachgoers felt otherwise. They used “his” beach like they used the beach anywhere else along the coast.
Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal has compiled a few choice quotes from Huckabee regarding the disrespecting of his $6 million beachfront property.
“I’ve had underage kids smoking pot and openly drinking,” Huckabee wrote. (Did he check their IDs?)
Further confirming millennial’s negative stereotypes about “boomers,” Huckabee enumerated complaints in the letter about everything from loud music to beach parties to dog poop to used prophylactics.
At one point, he even described witnessing a sexual encounter atop our shimmering emerald coast waters. “Two weeks ago, a young couple stripped naked and conducted various sex acts including intercourse on a YOLO board in clear sight of the beach in front of my home at 2 in the afternoon…”
Fun stuff. Huckabee says he bought the beach along with the house. Governor Rick Scott agreed, passing a law that privatized a bunch of previously-public land in 2018. (It was sort of walked back a few months later.) A bunch of Floridians disagree and have been working to codify public access to beaches panhandle millionaires believe they own. Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder has been leading the charge, doing pro bono work for non-profit “Florida Beaches for All.”
Uhlfelder has also been taking a few Twitter jabs at Mike Huckabee, much to the former governor’s dismay. Here’s Steve Bousquet’s summation of recent events, which have culminated in a very stupid move by the $6 million man.
When a persistent critic, a lawyer on the public side of the beach access battle, tweeted back with sarcasm and humor, Huckabee tried to silence him by filing a formal complaint with the Florida Bar. The complaint should be tossed out as a sham and an abuse of the system of disciplining lawyers.
In his Bar complaint, Huckabee accuses lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder of “vile and unprofessional attacks” and “repeatedly posting disparaging information about me,” which Huckabee claims violate Bar rules on integrity of the legal profession. Huckabee argues that the Bar is the right forum because the lawyer’s Twitter profile mentions his law practice.
Yes, Huckabee has filed a bar complaint in hopes of shutting down this persistent critic — one who suggested Huckabee’s Secret Service nickname should be “beach thief.” The complaint [PDF] is quite the read, with Huckabee (through legal representation) explaining just how awful (and allegedly unethical) it is to be mocked on social media.
This is not a case in which an attorney is generally commenting about some public matter. Rather, Mr. Uhlfelder is directly targeting me for harassment while I am an adverse party during ongoing litigation. He accused me of being a thief, disparaged me and my family, and continued to harass me even when I blocked his account. Mr. Uhlfelder’s conduct is an embarrassment to the reputation of the Florida Bar.
Whew. OK then. The complaint contains numerous screenshots from Uhlfelder’s Twitter account doing things like calling Huckabee out for blocking him. It also contains tweets noting that Huckabee has called Uhlfelder an “ambulance chaser” and suggested the lawyer “follow Jesus” rather than Huckabee. (On Twitter, I guess…)
What it doesn’t show is anything Uhlfelder should be reprimanded for. Sure, Uhlfelder could be a bit more tactful when interacting with litigation opponents on social media, but the Florida Bar rules don’t specifically prohibit this sort of behavior. Lawyers aren’t allowed to “disparage” or “humiliate” opposing litigants, but it would be a stretch to call Uhlfelder’s mostly-innocuous tweaking of the easily-offended Huckabee a violation of this rule.
What Huckabee has managed to do is draw more attention to both his own questionable actions and the movement targeting the law that turned public beaches into private yards last year. Uhlfelder had fewer than 500 Twitter followers prior to Huckabee’s complaint. Now, he has over 70,000.
Huckabee tried to silence a critic by handing him a bigger megaphone. If Huckabee’s skin had just been a little thicker, this could have been contained to the tiny part of Twitter that cares about the dynamics of Florida beachfront legislation. Instead, it’s now all about Huckabee and his inability to handle criticism. Huckabee now has thousands of new critics, almost none of whom can be hit with a bar complaint.