By JAVIER MANJARRES
The recent pay-for-play scandal involving Charlie Crist supporter Peter Schorsch, the proprietor of Saintpetersblog.com, or as some refer to as, Saintpravdablog, has brought shame upon the blogger and journalist community in Florida.
Schorsch may also be in the pocket of the lobbying firm, Southern Strategy Group, due to his gross shilling, and defending of the firm, even as its overall practice came under scrutiny. Read more HERE.
The Tampa Bay Times broke the news of Schorsch questionable advertising-for-coverage tactics, citing several politicos who accused him of ‘shaking them down’ for advertising dollars, a charge that Schorsch himself has denied, but has owned up to the fact that he did offer to remove negative content posted on his website for a price.
The story also lead to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri to refresh a 2 1/2-year-old criminal investigation into Schorsch.
Businessman Michael Pinson, who has been attacked by Schorsch, and who has also accused Schorsch of shaking him down, turned over a notarized contract signed by Schorsch, which stating that Schorsch would receive compensation for removing the negative articles he wrote about Pinson.
Pinson later filed a Florida Bar complaint against Schorsch attorney, Paul Phillips, alleging a conflict of interest and misconduct, throughout the contract negotiations with Schorsch.
At the core of this saga between Schorsch and Pinson is a WTSP Channel 10 News story by reporter Noah Pransky, who is being accused of running the fact-less story against Pinson with talking points and bogus facts supplied to him by Schorsch and/or Paul Phillips, simply because Pinson refused to pay Schorsch.
Phillips and Schorsch are said to have denied giving Pransky any information about Pinson.
Mr. Pransky story about Pinson with all the false and misleading statements in it, drove the editor of PushingRope.com, Michael Hussey who took Schorsch and Pransky’s at their word in his story, has since retracted the full negative story about Pinson citing that Pransky’s story, originated by Schorsch, was misleading.
Michael Hussey apologized to Pinson just several weeks ago after the Tampa Bay Times broke the story about Schorsch.
“I don’t know Pinson personally but after recent events I feel it is best to delete my post on Pinson’s charity and question the who the source of Pransky’s story is. My apologies to the people involved with the Michael Pinson Foundation” said Hussey.
Phillips himself stated in a bar complaint filed against him by Pinson, that he an his client, Peter Schorsch, were the sources of Pransky’s story on Pinson.
“I did provide the information in that email to my client [Peter Schorsch], and any news stories which occurred based on that information, complaints filed with the State of Florida, were done by my client and Channel 10 News Personnel.”- Paul Phillips, Florida Bar Complaint, TFB No.: 2013-10,093 (13E)
The Florida Bar, which found no probable cause, and unanimously dismissed Pinson’s complaint against Phillips on April 18, 2013, responded to the Shark Tank’s request for the entire 383-page public record complaint to be released.
On December 11, after paying a small administration fee to the Florida Bar Association, the Shark Tank received the entire complaint, which was filled with copies of anti-Pinson posts, letters, exhibits,and emails between Pinson and Schorsch’s respective attorneys.
What was an interesting find within the exhibits (E &F) Schorsch’s attorney, Paul Phillips, submitted to the Florida Bar, was that the two exhibits were actual priviledge client-attorney email communications, in which Schorsch clearly directed Phillips to keep the points of the agreement under wraps.
Remember, Phillips swore an oath that his response(s) to Pinson was true to the best of his knowledge.
In Exhibit E, Schorsch emails Phillips, proposing that Pinson “become an confidential advertiser” to his blog, via his company, Extensive Enterprises, for $4250. Schorsch added that upon receipt of the money, he would intern remove “ALL posts on Saintpetersblog.com” about Pinson.
Schorsch finished his communication with Phillips by stating that ,”This agreement will remain entirely confidential, with whatever penalties necessary spelled out in a confidential agreement.”
In Exhibit F, Schorsch drops the price from $4250 to $3250, as a final offer that needed to settled before 5pm the next day.
Again, this communication was between client and attorney.
What is curious about Phillip’s Exhibits, is that he used his own client’s priviledged emails, as part of his own civil defense in the bar complaint.
Did Schorsch permit his attorney to use his priviledged client-attorney communications to be released to the public?