Ex-prosecutor launches bid to oust state attorney. She wants help from whistleblowers

Betsy Young, a former prosecutor, has announced plans to challenge State Attorney Ed Brodsky in the 12th Judicial District.

Young, a 45-year-old Democrat, prosecuted thousands of felonies and attended more than 150 jury trials before she became a defense attorney, according to a news release sent on Monday announcing her plans to challenge Brodsky in November 2020.

Brodsky was first elected state attorney in 2012, following the retirement of Earl Moreland, and in June he announced plans to run for a third term.

In an interview on Monday, Young described the recession and statewide budget cuts that took place before her 2007 departure from the state attorney’s office. Prosecutors left and positions went unfilled, driving her average workload from approximately 175 to 300 cases.

“I did not feel like I could give the attention to the cases that they deserved, because it was too much,” she said. “It really caused me a lot of concern that something was going to fall through the cracks, and I couldn’t do the best job that I wanted to do.”

Young’s announcement included a link to her website, including a page entitled “Blow The Whistle!” She underscored “poor leadership” in the news release, encouraging submissions from “anyone who has seen unethical or illegal behavior” in the prosecutor’s office.

Brodsky would not comment on accusations raised in the news release. He instead referred to a brief statement provided to the Bradenton Herald.

“I am proud of the dedicated prosecutors and staff that serve at the state attorney’s office,” Brodsky said. “Since I have taken office in 2013, we’ve helped foster initiatives to reduce recidivism, encourage rehabilitation, and enhance public safety, while maintaining the highest ethical standards.”

Brodsky ran unopposed in 2016 and therefore was automatically declared the winner following the conclusion of the qualifying period. He filed for re-election that July, just two and a half months after being declared the winner.

When asked about her concerns, Young said the office needed to address high turnover and the associated risk to public safety.

“You have lawyers that should be able to make decisions about their own caseload and feel like they have the training and the support of an administration to back them up,” she said.

As a resident of Lakewood Ranch and the mother of two daughters, Young said she is actively involved in the local school system. She plans to bring that same concern and communication to the state attorney’s office.

“I’m going to be as ethical and above-board as one can possibly be,” she said. “I’m going to be responsible and responsive to our community. I’m going to be accountable to the voters that will elect me.”

“You will see me at everything,” she continued. “I will go talk to the sheriff’s office. I will be at community events. I plan to be an extremely active state attorney because I think we need a bridge between the prosecutor’s office and the community.”

According to the Florida Division of Elections database, Young filed to run on Monday and had yet to raise money for her campaign. Brodsky, who had about $9,600 that he rolled over from his previous campaign, began fundraising this summer, raising an additional $24,300 in July and August.

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Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.