PR exec’s pushback on story about his lawyer friend’s death looks like crisis management for Florida Bar

ron sachs
Ron Sachs, founder and chairman of Tallahasee’s Sachs Media

By Noreen Marcus,

A leader of a Tallahassee PR firm that’s paid to polish the Florida Bar’s image says embattled attorney Daniel Uhlfelder “completely concocted” a story about his father’s suicide to gain sympathy.

At the same time, he stands to harm the reputation of Florida’s organized Bar.

The Feb. 4 Florida Bulldog story quotes the late Steve Uhlfelder’s last note to his son Daniel: “Don’t let the Bar & courts get you down.” Daniel Uhlfelder is the defendant in a long-running Bar ethics case that stems from his opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s COVID policy.

Media strategist Ron Sachs, a longtime friend of Steve Uhlfelder’s, said the quote incorrectly implies that his son’s “legal problems” — the unresolved Bar matter — caused him to end his life.

Depressed and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Steve Uhlfelder, 76, was found dying from a gunshot wound near his home in Santa Rosa Beach. The circumstances of his death a year ago didn’t come to light until Florida Bulldog reported them this month.

Sachs said he was such a close friend of Uhlfelder that the two men spoke daily.

“The reason he chose to end his life was absolutely because of his illness and how fast he was declining,” Sachs said. “He chose to go out on his own terms.”

Sachs offered no evidence to support his claim, but vilified his dead friend’s son. “I think it’s a terrible miscarriage by Daniel and dishonors his family, particularly his father,” he said in a voicemail to Florida Bulldog. Sachs did not disclose his firm’s paid work for the Bar.

Steve Uhlfelder, left, and his son Daniel, at the 2008 SEC championship game, Florida v. Alabama

In a subsequent interview Sachs said he knew Uhlfelder owned a gun and they spoke hours before he died. “I said encouraging things to him. I said don’t give up.” He said he didn’t suspect Uhlfelder was about to turn the gun on himself.

Sachs described Florida Bulldog as the only media that “bit” when, according to him, Daniel Uhlfelder shopped around the suicide story. He said he wanted his comments added to the Bulldog’s Feb. 4 online story.

“The impact of your story was to create a lot of sadness and crying” for Steve Uhlfelder’s other survivors, Sachs said.


When asked about the Bar, a Sachs Media Group client, Sachs insisted he was speaking for himself. He said he’s trying to protect his best friend’s legacy and a grieving family’s privacy.

According to Sachs, his best friend’s beloved only son selfishly jeopardized both legacy and privacy.

“Daniel is abusing the facts and truth,” he wrote in an email to Florida Bulldog.

“Daniel’s trying to generate sympathy on the death of his father to minimize his problems,” Sachs said in the interview. His father “was somewhat upset that Daniel was in trouble but Daniel caused it himself,” Sachs said. “Daniel dealt himself this hand.”

Uhlfelder declined to respond to Sachs’s accusations.

He’s likely self-censoring because, after he publicly alluded to the politics of three GOP-appointed judges on the 1st District Court of Appeal, they ordered up a criminal contempt charge against him. The judges had just referred Uhlfelder to the Bar for discipline; the criminal case also remains open three years later.


Sachs tried to distance himself from the Bar and the firm he founded in 1996 during the Florida Bulldog interview.

He said he sold the business to employees in 2022 and described himself variously as retired, semi-retired and a special projects wrangler. The firm’s website, however, lists Sachs as its “chairman.”

In any event, “I no longer represent the Florida Bar,” he said during a phone conversation. The receptionist at Sachs Media’s offices in downtown Tallahassee had connected the call.

Asked whether the agency handles the Bar’s crisis management, Sachs demurred.

“That’s not what we do for the Florida Bar,” he said, quickly adding, “I don’t know if it’s part of what they do.”

In fact, it’s one of the services Sachs Media has been contractually required to perform for the Bar since 2019.

The firm’s website says it provides the Bar with communications, public affairs and marketing content. Crisis management is specified in the parties’ contract dated May 9, 2019 that was renewed through the 2023-2024 fiscal year for $114,000.

“Agency will help with crisis-related strategic counsel, crafting of messaging and media training for high-stakes interviews or issues that might arise during the terms of this Agreement,” says the contract, a public record available upon request.


The Florida Bar is a compulsory organization of the state’s more than 107,000 licensed attorneys. Funded mostly by membership dues, it self-regulates and investigates bad-lawyer complaints. Bar referees send disciplinary recommendations to the Florida Supreme Court for final decisions.

The Bar’s budget for fiscal 2023-2024 is $77.27 million. A total of $3,711,711, or about five percent, is allocated to public communications, The Florida Bar News & Journal and the general category of “news.”

Sachs Media Group has been working with the Bar at least since the parties signed a contract five months into DeSantis’s first term which began in January 2019. Perhaps the relationship goes back further; Sachs said it’s existed “for years.”

On June 3, 2019, he announced a promotion: Sachs Media is the Bar’s “Agency of Record.”

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to partner with such a distinguished organization in the cause of public service and integrity,” says Ron Sachs’s statement on the firm’s website.


Sachs wouldn’t discuss Uhlfelder’s Bar discipline case with Florida Bulldog. He suggested he doesn’t understand the nuances because he’s not a lawyer.

grim reaper
Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder as the “Grim Reaper” in May 2020

Sachs’s point of reference seems to be Uhlfelder’s portrayal of the Grim Reaper, a macabre, beach-strolling protester against DeSantis’s decision to reopen public beaches in May 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was raging.

“Daniel was in the news all the time and there were consequences he had to face,” Sachs said. “I would not comport myself that way and neither would Steve.”

If national Grim Reaper headlines embarrassed the governor, Uhlfelder’s lawsuit challenging his COVID policies heated their feud to a fast boil. DeSantis’s lawyers sought sanctions and 1st DCA judges consigned Uhlfelder to the Bar disciplinary process for pursuing what they called “political” litigation.

Nearly two years later a grievance committee recommended, and the Florida Bar Board of Governors approved, resolving Uhlfelder’s case without discipline by sending him to an ethics refresher course. But the Florida Supreme Court intervened and effectively told the grievance committee to take another look. Multiple charges followed.

The Uhlfelders learned about the high court’s intervention on Feb. 4, 2023. A week later Steve Uhlfelder took his life, leaving his son a note that shows the Bar and the courts were among the last things on his mind.

Months after that, Daniel Uhlfelder was told he could plead guilty to minor misconduct and briefly suspend his practice. So far, he appears to be holding out for a public trial in front of a referee.

Uhlfelder hasn’t addressed his disciplinary status publicly; his lawyers told a Bar counsel he’s endured a “very painful” time since his father’s death. He refuses to defend himself in the court of public opinion.

The Feb. 4 story that provoked Sachs’s outrage at Uhlfelder’s “self-aggrandizement” is based on public records and previous Florida Bulldog reporting. Uhlfelder wasn’t quoted.

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Latest comments

  • Thanks for this update. Wishing the son courage and support in his stand against the gov.


  • The Bar has needed NO help in destroying its own credibility. The fact that the state has two constitutional officers atop state government, both licensed lawyers, who very credibly may be argued to have actively participated in the January 6 insurrection and what Jack Smith has described as a criminal conspiracy to steal the national election of 2020 through a variety of means, including the device of a fraudulent lawsuit against four distant states, its aim to throw out the votes of every single voter in those states. That suit originated in the Texas state AG’s office, and was joined in by almost all if not all GOP governors in the nation except Georgia’s. That includes Florida’s governor and AG. The governor’s PAC or campaign leaked a memo in mid or late summer of 2023, a “state of the campaign” memo to donors, actually described Trump as “the defacto incumbent” – at the time of the memo. The pretext for the Texas lawsuit was a fabricated “eddy of doubt” about election integrity, the supposed doubt CREATED by the coup plotter in chief and his abettors, including those in states’ governments who knew they could exploit that phony claim of doubt, that “Big Lie” about voter fraud, to pass illegitimate voter fraud legislation in their own states to advantage themselves there – and that’s what they did. And in the wake of that historical event, the Florida Bar actually moved to revise its discipline rules to retreat from dealing with these constitutional officers and place them beyond its discipline, claiming some “uncertainty” in the relevant rule(s) that it had apparently never detected before.

  • Ok. I believe Sachs about as much as I believe these judges. Don’t lawyers know how bad they look and how they breed mistrust of the entire judicial system – civil and criminal – when they try to create a case out of nothing and then get judges to help them double down instead of doing their own job, which is “calling out bullshit”, as I like to call it? And don’t these right-wing fanatics in Florida know (by now, anyway), that the rest of the country thinks DeSantis is a clown who has, basically, ruined Florida during his time in office? I know nothing of this story, but was calling b.s. on the Bar within the first paragraph. Then I saw the word “democrat” and it all made sense. Now I’ve read all your other articles and, as an outsider looking in, this entire mess makes the Florida judiciary look as corrupt as Pennsylvania’s. Christ! Leave this poor man alone. You wouldn’t have to worry about your own images if someone, somewhere, had done the “right thing” from the start. It’s the very definition of insanity, though: Doing the same thing over and over expecting someone with some ethics and backbone to step in and say, “Enough already!” It never happens. (Well, it did…until that “second look”.) It makes the Florida Supreme Court and the Bar look unprofessional and childish, an impression that will last long after DeSantis’ star burns itself out. Which was eons ago, in case anybody in Florida hasn’t noticed.

  • So the Sachs Media Group gets paid to “polish” the Florida Bar’s image! I would think that Sachs knows it can spend all day “polishing” that PREJUDICED, CORRUPT, PILE OF DOG SHIT known as the Florida Bar, but at the end of the day they have nothing but a POLISHED PILE OF DOG SHIT!

    Corruption will ALWAYS be the end result when any agency or entity is allowed to 100% self-govern, self-regulate and SUPPOSEDLY self-discipline!!! (Emphasis added). The “Three Cs” of the Florida Bar is CORRUPTION – CRONYISM – COVER UP!!! I’m just a socioeconomically disadvantaged non-lawyer citizen, but after encountering the first of many dishonest, unethical, self-serving, lying Florida lawyers, I began doing my due diligence regarding the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar which govern lawyer conduct. I soon realized those so-called “Bar Rules” were meaningless, unenforced WORDS ON PAPER! Any Florida litigant who has ever filed a VALID, WELL-SUPPORTED BAR COMPLAINT against a crooked, rule-violating lawyer only to have the Complaint SUMMARILY DISMISSED knows exactly what I’m talking about! It is undisputed that Florida is the MOST CORRUPT state in the country and the Florida Bar is the MOST CORRUPT organization in Florida, with the Florida JQC coming in a close second!

  • Steve Uhlfelder was a friend. Ron Sachs is a good man. This is a sad story to read.

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