A key source on a critical story that The Palm Beach Post was supposed to publish Sunday about Palm Beach County State Attorney candidate Dave Aronberg‘s campaign is accusing the paper of manufacturing a bribery yarn in order to destroy Aronberg’s run for office, Gossip Extra has learned.
And managers at the dying newspaper held yet-again an article that’s been hyped in-house as a major coup by the Post‘s “investigative team.”
Insiders tell me at least two members of the Post‘s so-called i-team, including long-time newsroom figure Joel Engelhardt, have been looking for weeks for information that could deep-six former State Senator Aronberg’s candidacy.
The effort comes as the paper practically ignores more important races and struggles with a staff shortage. But since March, it produced seven editorials and four news stories blasting Aronberg!
Engelhardt thought he found a smoking gun recently when he interviewed multi-millionaire anti-establishment political donor Marty O’Boyle.
O’Boyle told the reporter Aronberg asked him for campaign contribution, and Engelhardt was off and running. At one point, Engelhardt emailed O’Boyle the Florida statute governing bribery, which O’Boyle interpreted to be an insinuation of impropriety.
Engelhardt’s story is said to include also an incident in which Aronberg, who until recently worked for Florida’s Attorney General, supposedly failed to pay for a ride to Tallahassee on O’Boyle’s private jet.
O’Boyle, by the way, was an early Aronberg supporter but switched allegiance when his friend, criminal defense attorney Robert Gershman, filed his candidacy. Aronberg never received contributions from O’Boyle.
As Engelhardt worked on the finishing touches on his story last week, O’Boyle started feeling that the Post‘s agenda is to discredit Aronberg.
O’Boyle eventually asked the Post not to use his quotes and information, and accused Engelhardt of “manufacturing a crime” to embarrass Aronberg.
Gossip Extra obtained an email that O’Boyle sent Engelhardt, and it is scathing:
“You recently told me that the Post is (using my words, not yours) looking to destroy Dave Aronberg,” O’Boyle wrote. “I, on the other hand and perhaps foolishly, provided you with information . . . not knowing your apparent clandestine and deceptive plan to maliciously destroy a man’s career.
“I am not authorizing you to use any of the information . . . now that I feel I know what the Post’s game plan is.”
Both Engelhardt and O’Boyle declined comment. Aronberg wasn’t available for comment.
Democrat Aronberg filed after former State Attorney Michael McAuliffe resigned to take a job in the private sector in the spring.
Rumor at the paper is that newsroom honchos believed that Aronberg engineered McAuliffe’s departure by releasing negative information about McAuliffe to Gossip Extra and the political website bizpacreview.com.
McAuliffe was a favorite of Post editorial boss Randy Schultz.