August 25, 2017

Federal judge dismisses DNC fraud lawsuit against Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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@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

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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

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@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/

    

August 04, 2016

Wasserman Schultz defends calling Sanders' campaign manager an 'ass'

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@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston isn't sorry she once called Bernie Sanders' campaign manager an "ASS."

“Well, he was acting like an ass,” she told the Miami Herald editorial board Thursday.

She was defending an internal Democratic National Committee email obtained apparently by Russian hackers and published by the website WikiLeaks. The email trove forced Wasserman Schultz out of her position as DNC chairwoman just before last week's presidential convention.

Wasserman Schultz, who is running for re-election, told the Herald she and her staff expressed themselves assuming their emails would remain private. But she expressed no regret over her characterization of Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, who at the time had suggested Sanders would extend his campaign until the convention.

“The Sanders campaign — and I give them credit for it — their strategy at that point was to make the DNC the bogeyman, and make me the bogeyman, so they could rally their supporters,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz also denied a Politico report that she asked Vice President Joe Biden for a video to play at her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

“Not true,” she said. “I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be responding to anonymous criticism. If people don’t have the nerve to be critical and put their name to it, then I’m not going to box nameless, faceless critics.”

Read the story here.

Photo credit: Shannon Kaestle, Miami Herald

'The buck stops with me,' Wasserman Schultz says of leaked DNC emails

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via @alextdaugherty

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston took responsibility Thursday for the leaked emails that eventually led to her resignation as Democratic National Committee chairwoman, saying "the buck stops with me."

She also denounced an email by her former party staff questioning Bernie Sanders' religious beliefs as "unacceptable" and "outrageous."

During her first local public appearance since resigning on the eve of last week's national convention, Wasserman Schultz denied the DNC was attempting to thwart Sanders' bid for president against nominee Hillary Clinton. She spoke at a briefing Thursday in Wynwood that Gov. Rick Scott, touring the neighborhood due to Zika, had with Congressional leaders.

"We followed the rules according to the DNC, primaries and caucuses were run according to state law," Wasserman Schultz said. "At the end of the day, who the DNC chair was, I could not allow to be a distraction."

The congresswoman said party staffers under her made mistakes. But she said leaked emails published by the website WikiLeaks weren't any more damaging than emails that would come out of any other private organization.

"Were there mistakes made?" Wasserman Schultz said. "Sure … but who among us in thinking about whether your private emails were stolen would survive the light of day?"

More here.