State Rep. Frank White, a Republican from Pensacola, decided to seek the statewide Cabinet position of attorney general after serving a single term in the Florida Legislature.
White graduated from Southern Methodist University, where he was the 1999-2000 student body president and where he also received his law degree. He is currently the chief financial officer and general counsel for the Sansing Dealer Group, which has stores in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
White is in a primary battle against Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge, for the Republican nomination. The winner will move on to the November general contest to replace outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The News Service has five questions for Frank White:
Q: What reforms or improvements do you see as needed within the Attorney General’s Office?
White: I think Attorney General Bondi has done a fantastic job. She has done a wonderful job. She’s saved lives, particularly in the opioid crisis. I think there are some areas where we disagree. One I’d point (to) would be the identity of Jane Doe in the NRA’s lawsuit against the state. It’s just a difference of opinion where I think Jane Doe’s identity should remain anonymous. I think it’s really a difference in terms of emphasis. One important part of it (the job) will be government accountability, making sure politicians are held accountable. That’s just one area where I particularly want to focus on immediately.
(Has she not held politicians accountable?)
White: No, that’s just an area of interest, an area that I particularly think is important for us.
Q: What legislation of which you were the primary sponsor, whether it passed or not, are you the most proud, and why?
White: I’ve been in the House for two years and probably passed two or so bills in those two sessions. But one that I’m most proud of is one that didn’t pass. It was attempting to pull public financing of campaigns out of our Constitution. It was an issue that I didn’t know about until I decided to run for attorney general and realized we’ve given millions and millions of dollars to politicians — established politicians — to run political campaigns. I looked at the results of that program and it looked to me like welfare for politicians. It benefited incumbents and established politicians. I filed a bill to try to try to remove it. Pushed it successfully through a couple of committees, getting support of my colleagues. No surprise other politicians killed it. So, I wasn’t able to make it all the way to put it in front of voters. It’s something a majority of voters agree with me, that it’s a scheme. It isn’t right for Florida. In this race it’s relevant, because I’m not taking any taxpayer dollars to run my campaign and my opponent is. She will be financed by several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer dollars to be spent so much more widely or given back to taxpayers.
Q: How does your work at an auto dealership translate into being attorney general?
White: My career in law started in private practice. So, I had a great foundational training as a young lawyer with a law firm with a diverse practice and then moved into a group of business, a group of car dealerships. We’ve got 600 employees. We’re in three different states. It gave me a real appreciation for the issues facing job creators in the state. … Being part of a business, I realize the risk that small business owners take. I realize the regulatory pressures. The extra costs of compliance with government regulation is massive and excessive. Just the complexity of it, you have to have lawyers and consultants to do just about anything in business. I understand the issues that you face in real time, particularly the cost of change in regulations. Not having a predictable business climate, a predictable market place, it means you’re not going to invest, you’re not going to invest your capital in a way that will create more jobs and create a healthier economy. Also, just working in business, I know what it takes to run a large organization.
Q: Where do you stand on the legality of Gov. Rick Scott‘s effort to remove cases from a state attorney who said she would not pursue the death penalty?
White: I absolutely support the governor’s leadership on this issue. It’s a travesty that a state attorney is refusing to pursue the death penalty. I sure wish she had said that to voters during her campaign. They would have been able to weigh in then. So, I support the leadership on the issue.
Q: And finally, the Barbara Walters question. You’ve got to make a meal for three people from anytime in history. Who’s at your dinner table and what are you cooking?
White: Oh wow. My wife is a fantastic cook, so I hope that she is with me in preparing it. If I’m involved, we’re grilling. So, it’s steaks or burgers will be served, with some fantastic sides and desserts, which are her specialty. So, any time in history? I’m going with the big man at (the) top. I’m going with President [Donald] Trump. I’d love to be able to spend some time and to break bread with him. Next, I would say, Gov. Rick Scott. He’s somebody who has been a fantastic leader in government and public service, somebody with private sector experience who has helped move our state into the future in real positive way. I’d love to hear his experiences, his perspectives. Beyond that, who’d be the third. … I’m a country music fan, I’d pull George Strait. He’s one of my all-time favorites. To be able to meet George Strait. But I don’t know how the conversation would go. I’m trying to mold it to have a good conversation. So, I’m going to take George Strait off. … So I might pull (U.S. Circuit Judge and U.S. Supreme Court nominee) Brett Kavanaugh. He’s somebody who is just an interesting and fascinating legal mind, an intellectual thought leader on the issues of an administrative state, which is a similar intellectual interest, passionate interest, and I’ve had some practical experience of that fourth branch of government that our founders did not intend to govern so much of our lives. So, to be able to talk with him about his judicial philosophy of the administrative state and how it has altered the structure that our founders intended.