Truth Test: Ads Fly in Duval County Clerk Of Courts Race

Truth Test: Trump Senior Ad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The race to become Duval County’s next Clerk of Court is heated, with negative ads hitting the airwaves. One ad from republican Jody Phillips, targeting his democratic opponent, is getting a lot of attention.

“Lobbyist Jimmy Midyette works for a radical agenda.”

Midyette is not currently registered as a lobbyist.

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However, he was registered as a lobbyist from 2011 through 2014 for Florida Legal Services, a legal advocacy group for vulnerable citizens. He was also registered with the City of Jacksonville, representing the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality -- and the Human Rights Ordinance.

“...defunding our police…”

The ad shows you several published items from the American Civil Liberties Union. Midyette was an attorney for ACLU of Florida until recently, but was never a lobbyist for the group.

The graphic that appears on screen is from an Op-Ed from by a national ACLU staffer, published after Midyette was with the Florida chapter. It argued that some public money funding police departments should be spent on other city services. Action News Jax spoke with Midyette, who says he does not support that in Jacksonville.

“…and decriminalizing possession of child pornography.”

The next graphic is pulled from an article from the Arizona chapter of the ACLU. It says people who make child pornography should be prosecuted, but that no one should be prosecuted for possessing any kind of book or film. Midyette told us he disagrees with that, and says people possessing child pornography should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.

“Midyette has supported wife beaters and child abusers...”

That’s a reference to three cases in which Midyette was hired as a private attorney while working for a private law firm. Each involved domestic violence injunctions. Midyette says he’s also represented victims of domestic violence and worked with Jacksonville’s Hubbard House.

“...and tried to force taxpayers to pay for transgender surgery.”

Midyette also represented two Florida government employees who were denied insurance coverage for gender-reassignment surgeries from their employer-sponsored health benefits. Midyette withdrew as attorney two months after the case was filed. Calling it taxpayer money is also questionable, as this was a health insurance benefit.

When the claims in this ad were put to the truth test, they rated mostly false.

In response to the attack, Midyette put out one of his own.

“The people behind my opponent are going to say some vile things about me. they’re the same guys who tried to steal JEA and are under investigation by the feds.”

Midyette told us he was referring to Tim Baker and his company, Data Targeting. We reached out to Baker, who had this response, “I’m a private citizen so why Mr. Midyette would choose to attack me with baseless and false allegations is his business. I also don’t know what evidence he has to substantiate the claims that I tried to steal JEA (or how that’s even possible) or that I’m under investigation. My name is not on the ballot so I can’t respond to the fantasyworld of a deranged individual who has made up these ideas. The Phillips campaign spot in contrast contains citations to the documents that corroborate Mr. Midyette’s shockingly extreme record.”

Based on the facts, Action News Jax rates Jody Phillips campaign ad mostly false. But we also agree with Mr. Baker that Midyette’s ad also has some holes in it concerning efforts to privatize JEA. We find his ad, half true.