November 28, 2017

Potential Democratic presidential hopefuls push their own Puerto Rico rebuilding plan

Bernie2

@alextdaugherty

As congressional leaders mull another disaster relief package for Puerto Rico, a group of Democratic senators with potential presidential aspirations are pushing their own plan. 

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, all possible Democratic presidential contenders in 2020, are sponsoring a bill that aims to put disaster recovery "in the hands of the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands," a contrast to a $44 billion disaster relief request from the Trump administration last week that encompasses Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and other areas around the country affected by recent hurricanes, floods and wildfires.

A host of Florida lawmakers voiced displeasure with Trump's disaster relief request for varying reasons. 

The bill, which is also supported by Trump critic and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, focuses on making the territory more resilient to future storms, a potential sticking point for some deficit-conscious Republicans. Rep. Darren Soto, the only Puerto Rican in Congress from Florida, and Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Stacey Plaskett are sponsoring the House version of the bill.

"In the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, millions of people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still struggling with basic needs more than two months since the hurricane struck," Sanders said in a statement. "However, we cannot simply rebuild Puerto Rico the way it was. We must go forward to create a strong, sustainable economy and energy system in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands that corrects for years of unequal treatments of the islands.”

The bill specifically addresses Puerto Rico's ballooning debt, damaged electric grid, Medicare and Medicaid and requires FEMA to use local workers in disaster recovery efforts. The bill also seeks to stop the privatization of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands' electric grid, schools and roads along with debt relief. 

"Puerto Rico is struggling with an unsustainable $74.8 billion of debt, much of which is held by Wall Street creditors, with an additional $49 billion in unpaid pension obligations," a press release for the bill said. "A small group of hedge fund billionaires have demanded extreme austerity policies to decimate public services, including firing teachers and closing schools. That is unacceptable. Puerto Rico will require substantial debt relief so they can focus on rebuilding, not paying back Wall Street." 

Republicans are likely to oppose the bill but the new effort from Sanders, Warren, Gillibrand and Harris could have political impacts for Democrats as Puerto Ricans are relocating to the U.S. mainland in droves after Hurricane Maria destroyed power and communications throughout the island. The Trump administration's disaster response has been criticized by lawmakers from both parties, and Democrats have cautioned that Maria will become Trump's Hurricane Katrina. 

Democrats in Florida and are hopeful that an influx of Puerto Ricans will help them at the ballot box, though Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio have also voiced concerns with the Trump administration's disaster response. 

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló recently asked for $94 billion in disaster relief, a massive sum that the Trump administration is unlikely to approve. Rosselló, in contrast to Cruz, has refrained from directly criticizing the Trump administration. 

"The bill that Senator Sanders has introduced in the United States Congress is a comprehensive plan that provides the blueprint for the transformation of Puerto Rico," Cruz said in a statement. "While dealing with all major areas of immediate concern: energy, health and education it also sets the foundation to make Puerto Rico a more equitable, just and fair society for all."

 

November 06, 2017

Former DNC chairwoman blasts Wasserman Schultz’s leadership in new book

Debbie Wasserman Schultz 3

 

@alextdaugherty 

Donna Brazile isn’t a fan of tropical pink-painted walls, apparently.

The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman has spent the past five days tearing into Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s DNC leadership and organizational skills ahead of the release of her new book, “Hacks,” on Tuesday, one year after Donald Trump’s victory.

Brazile blasted the Weston Democrat’s choice to paint the walls of her DNC office tropical pink and a host of perks associated with the leadership role, like a Chevrolet Tahoe fully staffed with a personal entourage — including an assistant known as a “body woman” — according to an advance copy of Brazile’s book obtained by the Washington Post.

According to Brazile, the DNC was dependent on Hillary Clinton’s campaign cash for survival and Wasserman Schultz was more than willing to let the Clinton campaign pay most of the DNC’s debt in exchange for a measure of control within the party organization, which is supposed to remain an impartial umbrella organization for all Democratic presidential candidates.

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination, repeatedly charged that the DNC under Wasserman Schultz was “rigged” in favor of Clinton.

“Debbie was not a good manager,” Brazile said in a book excerpt published by Politico. “She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party —she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was.”

Wasserman Schultz declined to address the specific criticisms levied by Brazile in an emailed statement.

“It was a tremendous honor to be asked by President Obama to serve as chair of the DNC,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I am proud of the work our team did to support Democrats up and down the ballot in the 2016 election and to re-elect the President in 2012. With Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats must stay focused on enacting a progressive agenda to protect our citizens, our values and our democracy and remain united towards our goal of electing Democratic congressional majorities in 2018.”

Read more here.

August 25, 2017

Federal judge dismisses DNC fraud lawsuit against Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Wasserman_Schultz_Staffer_Arrest_40608

@alextdaugherty 

A South Florida federal judge threw out a lawsuit on Friday that alleged Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee committed fraud after leaked emails showed former DNC staffers discussing ways to hurt Bernie Sanders' campaign for president.

Federal judge William Bloch stated in an order that even if the allegations are true, the court cannot find an injury to supporters of Sanders from the DNC or Wasserman Schultz "that is traceable to the DNC and its former chair’s conduct" so the lawsuit cannot be tested in court. 

"Plaintiffs have not presented a live case or controversy and the Court must dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction," the order said. 

Wasserman Schultz left her post as DNC chair in August 2016 after leaked emails from Wikileaks riled supporters of Sanders, who lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. She then defeated law professor Tim Canova, who argued the DNC had rigged the primary in favor of Clinton. Canova is challenging Wasserman Schultz again in 2018 after losing by 13 percentage points in the 2016 Democratic primary.  

June 21, 2017

Bernie Sanders isn’t backing Tim Canova in his second bid against Wasserman Schultz

Canova

@alextdaugherty 

In the summer of 2016, Tim Canova was the South Florida proxy for the dying embers of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

After Sanders endorsed — on national television — Canova’s bid to oust Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her congressional seat, the Nova Southeastern University law professor raked in millions from disaffected liberal Democrats around the country upset with her leadership of the Democratic National Committee and her perceived favoritism toward Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

“Clearly I favor her opponent, his views are much closer to mine than to Wasserman Schultz’s,” Sanders said in May 2016.

Last week, Canova announced he will challenge Wasserman Schultz again in 2018 despite a 14-point loss in the Democratic primary to the longtime congresswoman from Weston.

But this time around, Sanders isn’t on board.

“I have no idea about Tim Canova, I honestly don’t,” Sanders said when asked if he plans to support Canova’s second bid against Wasserman Schultz. “I know nothing about Tim Canova.”

Sanders declined to answer whether he thinks Wasserman Schultz should face a primary challenge from a more liberal-leaning Democrat.

The Canova campaign said the lack of support from Sanders doesn’t matter even though it could mean millions in contributions from supporters of the Vermont senator.

“In 2016, Tim Canova did not seek endorsements from any elected officials, including Senator Sanders,” Canova campaign spokesperson Deborah Dion said in an email. “Tim was therefore as surprised as anyone when Senator Sanders endorsed him five months into his campaign. Tim announced his candidacy for 2018 only last week and again he has not sought any endorsements from any politicians at any level, Senator Sanders' remarks do not change anything in our campaign or messaging.”

In an email, Canova acknowledged the importance of Sanders’ endorsement last year, even though Sanders did not come to Florida to campaign with Canova.

“I was thrilled when he endorsed me last year,” Canova said. “His endorsement gave us an important lift and I'm forever grateful for his support at such a critical time.”

Canova faces an uphill challenge against Wasserman Schultz, a prolific fundraiser who has widespread support among many constituencies in her Broward-based district that extends into northeastern Miami-Dade County. He’s now a second-time candidate facing off against an opponent who won reelection by double digits weeks after being ousted as DNC chair.


Read more here. 


April 19, 2017

Bernie Sanders rallies crowd in Miami

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@amysherman1

Independent Bernie Sanders was met with cheers in Miami Wednesday night as he called for transforming the Democratic Party into a grassroots force that will fight for the poor and middle class and push back against President Donald Trump.

“We are going to take on the billionaire class…” Sanders said. “Donald Trump did not win the election — the Democrats lost the election! That means rebuilding the Democratic Party, making it a grassroots party — a party from the bottom on up!”

Sanders spoke at the James L. Knight Center as part of a nationwide “Come Together and Fight Back” Tour largely in swing states and Republican states. Sanders spoke in Maine and Kentucky earlier this week and will later go to Texas, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The goal is to rebuild the party after the major rift that developed between supporters of Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president. About 2,000 people were in the crowd, according to a Knight Center official.

Sanders was accompanied by Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, a labor secretary under President Obama. Perez’s predecessor, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, had to step down from the chair position in July after WikiLeaks published thousands of emails showing that the DNC favored Clinton over Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

Perez bashed GOP leaders — with some colorful language as he dropped the “s” word multiple times: “The Republican leadership doesn’t give a s--- about people who are suffering.”

 
Keep reading here.

April 12, 2017

New DNC chief is coming to Miami next week, with Bernie Sanders

@PatriciaMazzei

To try to rebuild the Democratic Party, the new party chairman is hitting the road with a politician who is not a Democrat -- but who may nevertheless be the party's most prominent standard-bearer among grassroots activist.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, will be in Miami next Wednesday with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez as part of a tour titled "Come Together and Fight Back."

"At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multi-national corporations and the top 1 percent," the two men said in a joint statement. "Regardless of where they live or their political affiliations, most people understand that it is absurd for Republicans in Congress to support huge tax breaks for billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They understand that the recent Republican health care proposal which would have thrown 24 million Americans off of their health insurance, substantially raised premiums for older workers and defunded Planned Parenthood while, at the same time, providing almost $300 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a disgraceful idea."

The rally will take place at 7 p.m. at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami.

November 16, 2016

Ahead of Miami visit, Bernie Sanders calls climate change country's biggest challenge

Bernie2
via @OgleConnie

Sen. Bernie Sanders believes all of the challenges facing the country are significant. Election finance reform. Ending what he calls a “rigged” economy. Providing affordable healthcare and education.

But the biggest, most dangerous threat takes aim directly at South Florida, and, he says, President-elect Donald Trump isn’t even concerned about it.

“All of them are important in terms of the future of the United States,” says Sanders, who’s in Miami Saturday to talk about his new book at Miami Book Fair, “but above them all is climate change. We have a president-elect who doesn’t believe in climate change. That’s frightening for this country — and the world. ... If we don’t move boldly to transform our energy system, the planet is in deep danger.”

Also dangerous, he says, is “the bigotry that he espoused during the campaign. It’s tearing the fabric of this country apart.”

In “Our Revolution” (Thomas Dunne Books, $27), the former Democratic presidential candidate looks back on what began as something of a fringe campaign and ended up as a significant political movement.

More here.

Photo credit: Craig Ruttle, Associated Press

August 10, 2016

Bernie bucks keep pouring in for Wasserman Schultz rival Canova

104BernieS09 NEW PPP
@PatriciaMazzei

What is Bernie Sanders' endorsement worth?

For Florida congressional candidate Tim Canova, the answer so far is more than half a million bucks.

Sanders' campaign told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that it has helped raise more than $637,000 since May 22, when the Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate began asking supporters to chip in for Canova.

Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, is trying to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, a Sanders foe. Sanders accused her of bias toward Hillary Clinton when Wasserman Schultz ran the Democratic National Committee. Leaked internal emails from the DNC showed late last month that Wasserman Schultz's staff favored Clinton, though Sanders' camp acknowledged that preference wasn't to blame for his loss to Clinton. Still, the email embarrassment cost Wasserman Schultz her high-profile role -- and forced her to step up campaigning after 24 years of running unopposed.

His endorsement of Canova was Sanders' first foray into congressional races this election cycle. Team Sanders sent supporters its latest Canova fundraising pitch Tuesday, on the same day Clinton traveled to Davie to endorse Wasserman Schultz. Since Tuesday alone, just under $300,000 has come in, according to a Sanders spokesman.

In all, the Canova contributions amount to $637,924.10 and came from 40,948 donations, each averaging $16.

Over the past few weeks, handwritten postcards from all over the country have poured into the Herald's editorial board from supporters urging for a Canova endorsement. Canova himself told the Herald he knew nothing about the postcard-writing campaign; one of Wasserman Schultz's chief criticisms of Canova is that he's an outsider whose support lies mostly outside the Broward/Miami-Dade County district.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, el Nuevo Herald

August 09, 2016

Bernie Sanders continues to fundraise for Tim Canova

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders sent another fundraising email today on behalf of Tim Canova who will face U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary Aug. 30.

"Much like in our campaign for president, Tim started off as a major underdog in this race, battling a well-known and well-established person who was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party," Sanders wrote. "He is running a tough campaign on the kind of progressive platform we need to see in this country: opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, backing free tuition at public colleges and universities, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Tim is on the side of working people and that's why we need to help him win."

No word yet on whether Sanders will appear in the Broward/Miami-Dade district on behalf of Canova. During the Florida primary, Sanders lost the district by a landslide to Hillary Clinton. The only appearance by Sanders in Broward during the presidential primary was when he spoke to the National Urban League in Fort Lauderdale in July 2015.

August 06, 2016

DNC emails reveal controversial reputation of South Florida billionaire

@jamesmartinrose

While prominent Democrats from Hillary Clinton on down regularly mock Donald Trump in public, he's not the only wealthy commercial real estate developer to be ridiculed by party operatives.

Stephen Bittel, a Miami Beach businessman who owns and operates more than $1 billion in real estate in South Florida and beyond, isn't the most popular fellow at the Democratic National Committee despite his large donations to the party.

A few of the DNC emails released last month by Wikileaks, which prompted the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman, contain trash-talking about Bittel among folks at top levels of its massive fundraising operation.

Bittel, who is co-chairman of the party's national finance committee, is cited in several emails looking ahead to a May 18 meeting of President Barack Obama with the Coconut Grove resident and a small group of other big donors at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

Two days before the event, DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan and his Mid-Atlantic deputy Alexandra Shapiro were fretting about where to seat Bittel.

"Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn't sit next to POTUS!" Kaplan told Shapiro.

POTUS is the Secret Service code name for President of the United States.

Shapiro quickly responded: "Yes -- Bittel will be sitting in the s-------t corner I can find."

The next day, in another email about seating for the elite fundraiser, Shapiro provided an update to Zach Allen, another DNC regional finance director.

Shapiro zeroed in on Bittel and Henry R. Munoz, a prominent San Antonio architect who is also co-chairman of the DNC national finance committee.

"So Henry and Bittel are both coming to the roundtable (with Obama) as punishment for something I did in a past life," she emailed Allen.

The two operatives mused about seating Bittel next to DNC finance vice chairman Chris Lowe and his wife, comedy writer Bonnie Datt.

"LOL, Chris and Bonnie think Bittel is a character," Allen told Shapiro. "So if you want to go that route, let me know so I can at least forewarn them but they'll be fine and if it makes your life easier, all the better."

In apparent reference to both Bittel and Munoz, Allen added: "I'm sorry you're having to deal with them."

Bittel, chairman of Terranova Corp., is a friend of Wasserman Schultz. He hosted a dinner for her at a Philadelphia restaurant during the Democratic National Convention shortly after she resigned as DNC head.

The Weston lawmaker quit the top Democratic post after some of the emails revealed disparaging comments by DNC aides about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who former Secretary of State Clinton bested to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a separate email exchange, Chadwick Rivard, a top DNC researcher, warned White House aide Bobby Schmuck about another donor with South Florida ties.

Coping the email to a half dozen other DNC operatives, Rivard sent Schmuck a long background description of Palm Beach billionaire George Lindemann Jr., board president of the Bass Museum in Miami Beach who was once an Olympic equestrian hopeful as a highly skilled horse rider.

The biography, part of which came from the Lexis-Nexis database, included Lindemann's 1995 conviction on three counts of wire fraud. That case resulted from a federal probe that found 50 horses had been killed over two decades in acts of insurance fraud.

Lindemann, who has donated to Republican and Democratic politicians, received a 33-month term in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

DNC compliance director Alan Reed, who'd been copied on Rivard's email, rendered his verdict on Lindemann two hours later.

"I vote fail....again," Reed wrote.

To browse the entire Wikileaks trove of 19,252 DNC emails, click here: https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/