Counterattack in state attorney race hits airwaves

Political action committees for Angela Corey, Melissa Nelson behind TV ads

The attack ads in the 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s race continue, funded by political action committee for the two leading candidates.

The PAC for incumbent Angela Corey has released a commercial attacking fellow Republican, Melissa Nelson.

"When Melissa Nelson goes on TV, she hides the ugly truth," the announcer says. 

This is the second negative ad in the race to hit the airwaves in a week. Last week, a commercial by the PAC supporting Melissa Nelson fired shots at Corey.

The latest ad features a 2003 murder case against William Wells, who Nelson prosecuted for killing five people in Mayport. While in prison, Wells killed another inmate.  

"Nelson let a serial killer -- the Mayport Monster -- off the hook, and when she did, he killed again," the ad claims.

Nelson wasn't available to talk about the attack ad, but her representative said everything in the latest commercial is wrong.

"Melissa Nelson prosecuted and got him put away with five life sentences and no chance for parole. The decision was based on the wishes of the victims' family, and Melissa's boss, Angela Corey, agreed with this decision," Nelson campaign spokesman Brian Huges said.

Asked about that, Corey campaign office sent a statement saying Nelson personally signed off on the Wells indictment and notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

"The decision to waive the death penalty rested solely with Melissa Nelson and then state attorney, Harry Shorstein," said Corey's communication director, Cathleen Murphy. "In 2004, Angela Corey was the division chief of the Gun Crime Unit and had no decision making authority in this case whatsoever."

The commercial goes on to say: "Then Nelson threatened a political opponent to get out of her way or she'd burn his house down."

That refers to a meeting Nelson had with the third Republican candidate in the race, Wes White. White claims that she threatened to get him out of the race before she was a candidate, and he has asked for a grand jury investigation.

White was the one who said “burn his house down,” in reply to what he said was her threat to do whatever it took to get him to drop out.

"This is a false and defamatory statement because it fails to mention the claim was refuted by those in the meeting," Huges said.

City of Jacksonville Finance Director Mike Weinstein and political consultant and former mayoral aide Susie Wiles told News4Jax they were at the meeting between Nelson and White and no such threats were made.

Corey's PAC ad goes on to say that law enforcement, including several sheriffs and the police union are backing her. Huges said that many law enforcement professionals are supporting Nelson.

There is no Democrat running for State Attorney, who whoever win she Aug. 3 Republican primary will face only a write-in candidate in the general election, and a legal challenge is pending in the Florida Supreme Court calling that person a "sham candidate" and seeking to have him disqualified.


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