WEST PALM BEACH — A local lawyer was pelted with nasty emails this week after a Panhandle lawyer with a similar name posted a controversial political video that went viral.
West Palm Beach's William W. Price said he received the critical calls and emails after his unrelated namesake, William B. Price of Panama City, urged Florida Republicans to move to Georgia en masse to vote and assure GOP Senate victories there in January.
The Facebook post, which he later deleted and said was a joke, drew the attention of national media and responses that flooded an email inbox 500 miles to the south.
"I hope you are prosecuted and lose your license to practice your ambulance chasing!" one email said.
"Please remove me from your mailing list," another said. "In the off chance there is a gawd, I don't want her to see us together."
"Bill Price! You are an anti-American scum bag and you are what’s wrong with this country. Shame on you. Go crawl back under the rock you crawled out from," said another.
"Just wondering if this is the law firm that encourages felonious activities? Are you all criminals or just the managing partners?" wrote yet another.
The local Price said he thought it was funny at first, as people kidded him about the confusion. But he became increasingly disturbed by the tenor of the emails that poured in and the calls that lit up his office phones this week.
In Panama City, meanwhile, personal injury and insurance claim lawyer William B. Price was forced to play defense.
Fox News reported that the Georgia secretary of state was investigating him for allegedly trying to vote illegally in that state.
That Price said that he'd been joking in his video-recorded comments to the Republican Party of Bay County on Nov. 7. He never registered to vote in Georgia or intended to, he said. The deadline for Georgia residents to register to vote in the hotly contested Jan. 5 runoffs is Monday, Dec. 7.
Democratic opponents, who he described as communists, didn't get the joke because they were just looking for a story, he said.
The video, obtained by the website MyPanhandle.com, captured the lawyer telling his audience that GOP victory in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoffs was crucial.
"I will invite each and every one of you to be my roommate in Georgia," he said. "I’m moving to Georgia. I’m changing my voter registration right now and I’m inviting 2 million people to be my roommates if they want. We’ll make room for you at the dinner table.
"But we have to win that election in Georgia. And so I’m moving to my brother’s house in Hiram, Georgia and I’m registering to vote, and we’re going to win that election in January and that’s what needs to be done. If you don’t want to do it, fine. Might as well move to Venezuela now, get used to that lifestyle because that’s what’s coming.”
West Palm Beach's Price is getting used to being pelted for no fault of his own. In 2016, several tons of bricks crashed down on his Fern Street offices when a wall of the adjacent Alexander Lofts collapsed. After a lawsuit and reconstruction, his firm only recently was able to move back in.
And now this.
"This is not just a case of mistaken identity," he said Thursday. "I am shocked and amazed how quick people are to throw the knife at an innocent party. No one checks their facts anymore before saying hateful, slanderous words.
"It is time for Christmas and Hanukkah is early this year but there is no 'Love thy neighbor' in the United States today."