Mike Huckabee files bar complaint against lawyer for Twitter ridicule, including 'beach thief' nickname
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has filed a bar complaint against a Florida lawyer for suggesting in a tweet that his nickname should be “beach thief” and otherwise ridiculing him on Twitter.
Uhlfelder said he had about 400 Twitter followers before he shared an op-ed article by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. By Monday, he had nearly 75,000 followers.
Uhlfelder is an opponent in litigation over public rights to beachfront property owned by a trust benefiting Huckabee, according to the bar complaint. Uhlfelder intervened on behalf of Florida Beaches for All, a citizens group, in a suit filed by Walton County, Florida, against the trust.
At issue in the suit is whether the beachfront property belongs to Huckabee’s trust or to the public under a 2018 Florida law. The legislation voided public access to private beaches unless a court rules that the area had a recreational customary use.
In a July 2019 Twitter post, Uhlfelder suggested that Huckabee’s nickname should be “beach thief,” the complaint says.
He also posted disparaging editorials and cartoons about Huckabee, and he reposted a tweet that read: “I’m trying not to picture Ol’ Man Huckabee slathered in Noxzema, clad in a Fox And Friends t-shirt, khaki shorts, calf-length black socks and sandals, wandering along the beach with a metal detector.”
Uhlfelder replied when another Twitter user apparently referred to Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Worse would be Sarah all slathered in a thong bathing suit,” the Twitter user said.
“You’ve gone too far,” Uhlfelder replied in the post. “Please stop before you break twitter.”
When Huckabee blocked Uhlfelder, the lawyer posted the notice of the blocking.
Huckabee’s complaint calls Uhlfelder’s Twitter conduct “entirely unprofessional and unethical.”
“This is not a case in which an attorney is generally commenting about some public matter,” Huckabee’s complaint said. “Rather, Mr. Uhlfelder is directly targeting me for harassment while I am an adverse party during ongoing litigation. He has accused me of being a thief, disparaged me and my family, and continued to harass me even when I blocked his account. Mr. Uhlfelder’s conduct is an embarrassment to the reputation of the Florida Bar.”
The complaint is at the “staff level of investigation,” a bar spokeswoman told NWF Daily News. Uhlfelder is asking the bar to toss the complaint.
“A lawyer—simply because he or she is a lawyer—does not check First Amendment rights at the door to admission to the Florida Bar,” says Uhlfelder’s Dec. 2 response, filed by lawyer Mark Levine.