TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - The National Federation of Independent Business announced Monday it has endorsed Republican attorney general-nominee Pam Bondi.

The business group, in a statement, said the endorsement took place during an NFIB member meeting and health care lawsuit briefing in Tallahassee.

The group's Florida chapter, which represents more than 10,000 small and independent business owners, cited Bondi's commitment to continue a challenge launched by current Attorney General Bill McCollum against new federal health care reform signed by President Barack Obama.

This spring, the NFIB joined a group of states in a lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform law. The suit was filed in March after President Barack Obama signed the reform legislation into law.

The lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional to require an individual to pay a yearly penalty if he or she does not purchase health insurance.

"This race is of critical importance to small business owners -- the future of Florida's role in the lawsuit challenging the federal health care law lies in the attorney general's hands," Bill Herrle, NFIB/Florida executive director, said in a statement.

"Florida needs an attorney general who will stand up to protect our constitutional rights. Pam Bondi has committed to continuing to challenge the constitutionality of the health care law -- a stark contrast to her opponent Dan Gelber, who has publicly stated that if elected Florida will no longer be a party to the suit."

Herrle continued, "Our members recognize how crucial it is to elect an attorney general who will promote and protect the rights of small business owners and allow the lawsuit to move forward."

Bondi, in a statement, said she would be proud to pursue the lawsuit on behalf of the state's small business owners.

"Floridians do not want and cannot afford this unconstitutional federal health care law, which I believe is the most expansive entitlement program ever created," she said.

Bondi, a former Tampa prosecutor and frequent commentator on Fox News, faces Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat and former prosecutor, in November.

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