August 27, 2016

Tim Kaine bashes Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott in Broward speech

KainePinesMH (1)

Tim Kaine said that in order to defeat terrorists the United States must continue to work with alliances while Donald Trump will set the country on a path to “isolation” and “weakness” in a speech in Broward Saturday morning.

“There is sharp distinction between a Hillary Clinton who understands the value of alliances and making us stronger and Donald Trump who seems to think building walls and tearing down alliances is a path to strength,” Kaine said in a speech in Broward Saturday morning. “It is a path to isolation and it’s a path to weakness.”

Kaine attacked Trump for questioning the importance of NATO to the U.S.

“If you tear up NATO and say now we don’t need alliances anymore, who are you going share intelligence with?” he said at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center in Pembroke Pines.

Kaine campaigned in Democratic-rich Broward County on the last weekend before the state’s Tuesday primary and in the district of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former national party chair who faces a well-financed challenge from Tim Canova —who is backed by Bernie Sanders. Kaine thanked Wasserman Schultz for attending, but made no comments about her campaign.

Kaine also used his speech in Pembroke Pines to attack Republicans — both Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP in the U.S. Senate — for avoiding tackling the problem of sea level rise.

“You’ve got a governor who ordered his officials not even to use the term climate change...,” Kaine said. “I think Floridians are like Virginians — we are proscience people. ....We accept the notion that there is climate change, that human activity is causing it.”

Keep reading here.

August 26, 2016

Broward prosecutors to investigate bribery allegations against Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor

Broward prosecutors will investigate whether Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian took bribes in return for a favorable vote on development project, after Julian was caught on tape apparently admitting to taking the favors.

The accusations involve whether the developers provided money to a pet charity of Julian’s and offered to provide as many as 300 workers to help with his campaign.

“I know there are some complaints and allegations that have been referred to us and we will review those,” said Tim Donnelly, public corruption chief for Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, told the Miami Herald Friday morning. “It's going to be investigated.”

WPLG Channel 10 reporter Bob Norman first aired the allegations against Julian Wednesday based on a voice message by Julian related to the $450 million condo and hotel project at the Diplomat Golf and Tennis club.

In the profanity-laced recording, Julian said he got the developer to buy a food bank “a frigging van” but that “I couldn’t tell anybody.”

It spilled over into the city’s budget hearing Thursday when two city commissioners accused Julian of taking bribes.

“What a psycho — you’re taking bribes!” says City Commissioner Michele Lazarow during the hearing, according to a video from Lazarow’s Facebook page posted by

“You’re taking bribes and you’ve got the cojones to accuse other people?” Commissioner Keith London said.

“Stick a sock in it,” Julian replied, while eating a snack on the commission dais.

Keep reading here.

August 25, 2016

Hollywood lawyer Alan Koslow pleads guilty


Hollywood lawyer Alan Koslow pleaded guilty this morning to one count related to money laundering in an FBI sting that took down the politically influential lobbyist.

Koslow entered the plea before U.S. District Court Judge William Dimitrouleas in Fort Lauderdale, according to court records. He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 10.

Koslow was once known as the "King of Hollywood" for the power he held at City Hall. He was the city's attorney between 1990-93 until he had to resign after it came to light that he had a relationship with a city secretary with whom he helped negotiate a settlement. He later became a lawyer and lobbyist at Becker and Poliakoff and represented developers before the city.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, here is what led to the criminal charges:

Beginning in November 2012, Koslow met with two undercover agents from the FBI. During the course of several meetings that followed, the undercover agents explained to Koslow, and later to business owner Susan Mohr, their need to launder cash that was being generated from an illegal gambling business and from the unlawful sale of narcotics and counterfeit Viagra.

Koslow and Mohr agreed to accept the cash and then provide checks to the agents, for the amount of the cash minus a five percent fee, drawn on the business bank account of “Mohr2GoGifts,” a business owned by Mohr and located in Fort Lauderdale. The FBI sting ended in 2013 but Koslow wasn't charged until this year leading to speculation that federal authorities used him to help nab others.

Koslow entered drug treatment this summer after testing positive for cocaine multiple times. He now attends outpatient treatment in Boca Ration, court records show. Mohr also pleaded guilty to one count this week.

Tim Canova ad says Debbie Wasserman Schultz flip flopped on fracking, medical marijuana


Tim Canova's new TV ad attacking U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz accuses her of flip flopping on a few issues including fracking.

In an Aug. 14th debate on CBS4, Wasserman Schultz sounded open to fracking in Florida.

Host Jim DeFede asked: "So you are open to fracking as a possibility in Florida?"

She replied: "As long as we have significant regulations."

When the Miami Herald sent her spokesman a list of questions asking what type of regulations she wants, the campaign sent a statement saying she supports a state ban.

"Let me be clear, I am against fracking, especially in Florida," she said in a statement.

The ad also accuses Wasserman Schultz of flip flopping on medical marijuana, payday lending and Trans Pacific Partnership. Here is some background:

Medical marijuana: Wasserman Schultz opposed the 2014 state constitutional amendment but in this race says she is undecided about the similar amendment on Nov. 8th ballot. In May, she voted in favor of a measure to give veterans access to medical marijuana after opposing a similar measure in 2014.

Payday lending: Wasserman Schultz defended Florida's payday law which has been bashed by consumer groups and she pushed back against proposed rules by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In June, she backed away from opposition to the new rules.

Trans Pacific Partnership: She voted to fast track TPP in 2015 but recently told the Sun Sentinel that she is still evaluating it.

Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in the Aug. 30th Democratic primary in a district that stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County. The ad is running on cable and broadcast.



August 24, 2016

Trump asked Scott to appoint Broward attorney as judge

Campaign 2016 Trump Judge
From the Associated Press:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has bragged about his influence with politicians, urged Gov. Rick Scott to give a judgeship to a Florida attorney whose work appears at odds with Trump's hard-line stance on immigration, newly released emails show.

The emails posted online late last week by the Scott administration show Trump recommended that the governor appoint Jose Izquierdo, a well-regarded attorney who had backing from several other South Florida Republicans.

"Dear Rick: A friend of mine recommended this gentleman for a judgeship in Broward County. From what I understand, he is very well-respected in the legal community. Thank you. Sincerely, Donald," read the May 10 email, to which a two-page biography of Izquierdo was attached.

Thirteen days after Trump's recommendation, Scott appointed the attorney as a Broward County circuit judge.

Izquierdo, a Cuban-American born in Florida, has represented criminal immigrants, spoken on immigration issues and once represented the consulates of Mexico and Honduras. Izquierdo highlighted on his application that he once tried to suppress a warrant used in a drug possession case. Scott has taken a harsh line against drug use and wanted at one time to require welfare recipients and state workers be tested for drugs. He also worked to protect from deportation an immigrant who had been convicted of aggravated battery in Florida in 2005.

Trump has said criminal immigrants should be deported. He has harshly criticized Mexico in particular and Latin American immigrants in general.

It's not clear whether Trump knew that Izquierdo had done work at odds with many of Trump's policy positions.

More here.

Photo credit: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

Bernie Sanders a no-show for Tim Canova

Canova (1)


Bernie Sanders, the politician who elevated first-time candidate Tim Canova to national attention and a rich campaign warchest, doesn’t appear to be coming to South Florida to help out his protégé in his battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

At a press conference Wednesday -- a week before the Aug. 30 primary -- at his Hollywood campaign office, Canova pushed back against reporters’ questions about why Sanders hasn’t appeared in the Broward/Miami-Dade district.

“You tell me why he isn’t coming,” said Canova defensively. “I don’t have an answer to that. I am very proud to have his support. Quite frankly we don’t need him here to win this election. Our field operation is growing by the day. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the one who needs to run out and get folks to come in from out of town to help protect her -- to shield her from the voters. I am out there talking to voters every day.”

Wasserman Schultz has recruited many of the party’s top names to campaign for her in the district, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot at a congressional event in Arizona in 2011. President Barack Obama also praised Wasserman Schultz when he was in South Florida. Obama had tapped her as his Democratic National Committee chair -- a role she stepped down from in July following the WikiLeaks publication of thousands of DNC emails.

For Canova, he has only one big backer: Sanders. In May, Sanders announced on CNN that he was backing Canova and has since sent fundraising emails on his behalf.

The political novice has echoed many of Sanders’ campaign themes, such as demanding campaign-finance reform. Like Sanders, Canova’s fundraising strategy has relied on small-donor donations online while eschewing lavish fundraisers and corporate support. The two men know each other: In 2011 Sanders appointed Canova, a law professor who is an expert on finance, to an advisory committee about Federal Reserve reform.

In July, Sanders told USA Today he would support at least 100 candidates across the country in 2016 -- including Canova -- and possibly campaign for them in person.

But it appears Sanders has blown Canova off -- perhaps because Canova still appears to be a longshot.

“We need all the help we can get,” Canova told the YouTube show Young Turks, according to a clip played Tuesday night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. “Look, when Bernie endorsed me, he called me and gave me his number and said, ‘Stay in touch and please call.’ And I have, and I`m waiting for Bernie to return my call. .... So we are hoping that the Sanders campaign does still come through, that Bernie comes through and makes an appearance for us, or at the very least, helps us raise some more money during such a critical period down the home stretch. And that is our hope.”

Spokespersons for Sanders did not reply to emailed questions from the Miami Herald Wednesday.

At his Hollywood press conference, Canova said he had invited Sanders to come and that they had “some general conversations.” But when asked if Sanders ever told him whether he would show up, Canova bristled.

“No comment,” Canova said, referring reporters back to Sanders comments that he would probably campaign for Canova.

Canova’s campaign hired Sanders’ media consultants -- Devine, Mulvey and Longabaugh -- in late July only to see them quit about two weeks later. Canova said Wednesday his campaign rejected the consultants’ strategy of focusing money on TV ads rather than on field operations. Canova also said an attack ad the consultants pitched was  “over the top.”

“Bernie Sanders’ media consultants left the campaign because we weren’t taking their advice,” Canova said. “I rejected their advice and put more money in the field than TV. I said from the beginning the campaign was not relying on Beltway consultants.”

Mark Longabaugh declined to provide specifics about what happened between his firm and Canova.

“l think it's unfortunate Tim Canova decided to characterize it that way,” he said. “We left campaign because of disagreement over strategy, the message and the professionalism of the campaign.”

Canova tried to make the case that it doesn’t matter if Sanders stumps for him in person. But a recent poll by the Sun Sentinel and Florida Atlantic University showed Canova has a wide lead among young voters and Sanders voters -- a sign that a visit by Sanders to the district could boost his campaign. However, it would be tough for Canova to win on Sanders’ supporters alone because Clinton got twice as many votes in the district than Sanders during the presidential primary.

“The voters of this district don’t much care if Bernie comes here or not,” Canova said. “They care about issues about putting food on the table -- real issues of concern to them whether social security will keep up with inflation, how a child is going to pay for higher education, whether the drinking water going be drinkable. That’s what I am talking about in this campaign and that’s why I called his press conference. Bernie Sanders is not on the ballot, Hillary Clinton is not on ballot. You might all find it very interesting to talk about -- it's not of importance to me.”

August 23, 2016

PAC pours in big bucks to help Debbie Wasserman Schultz



A Democratic Super PAC has spent big bucks in an effort to re-elect U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The Patriot Majority PAC has spent about $600,000 on mailers, radio and digital ads in addition to money on polling in the Broward/Miami-Dade district for the Aug. 30th primary.

The mailers we have seen make no mention of her primary rival Tim Canova and focus on her record fighting for gun safety reform, equal pay for women and support for abortion rights and align her with President Barack Obama.

Wasserman Schultz had raised about $3.1 million through Aug. 10th while Canova raised $3.3 million so combined with the PAC her side is ahead in the race for dollars.

Patriot Majority PAC’s campaign finance report through Aug. 10 shows the following large donors:

Donald Sussman of Maine and Fort Lauderdale: $250,000. He is the CEO of Paloma Partners hedge fund which is a major contributor to Democratic and liberal groups including those working on behalf of Hillary Clinton. (Sussman bought a home for $27.5 million in Fort Lauderdale in January plus an $8.2 million property next door a few months after he announced he was getting divorced from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.)

Joseph Blount: $133,000. The businessman and frequent Democratic donor lives in Miami Beach.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC: $125,000

Florida Crystals Corp: $25,000.

Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen: $20,000

Canova attacked Wasserman Schultz for being supported by a PAC that takes money from Big Sugar. He wrote in a press release that Sussman’s hedge fund has “over $100 million dollars in energy and fossil fuel investments.” wrote in April that less than 4 percent of the hedge fund’s portfolio is invested in energy companies.

“Donald Sussman is one of the most progressive individuals in America and has a long history of supporting progressive candidates and progressive causes, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other candidates supported by Emily’s List,” said Craig Varoga, treasurer of Patriot Majority PAC.

It’s unclear if the PAC still plans to advertise on TV. The PAC had reserved at least $393,000 in TV ad time by early August, reported MapLight, a nonpartisan organization that researches data on campaign fundraising. But Varoga did not respond to questions from the Miami Herald about current advertising plans.

This is the first time Wasserman Schultz of Weston has faced a primary challenger since 1992 when she first ran for the state Legislature. Canova, who lives in Hollywood, is a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor. He got a boost in fundraising due to the endorsement by Bernie Sanders and publicity about Wasserman Schultz stepping down as Democratic National Committee party chair.

This post was updated after the PAC filed an amendment to its FEC report to change Sussman's address from Maine to Fort Lauderdale.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she backs fracking ban after sounding open to it in debate


After calling for “regulations” on fracking during a debate, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz now says she would support a ban in Florida.

"Let me be clear, I am against fracking, especially in Florida,” Wasserman Schultz said in a press release after the Miami Herald sought more details about her position. “I support a ban on fracking at the state level.”

Fracking, a controversial type of oil and gas extraction that raises red flags for environmentalists, was one of the few issues that divided Wasserman Schultz from her Democratic opponent Tim Canova in their lone debate on CBS4 in Miami earlier this month. They also clashed about the Middle East.

When host Jim DeFede asked the candidates during a brief lightning round at the end of the debate if they would support a ban on fracking in Florida, Canova said "I would."

Wasserman Schultz said: "I think we need to strongly regulate fracking and make sure that we protect our environment in process."

DeFede asked: "So you are open to fracking as a possibility in Florida?"

"As long as we have significant regulations,” she replied.

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high pressures to extract oil and gas production from rock underground. A 2015 study by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded fracking could hurt drinking water.

State lawmakers have tried three times and failed to pass a bill to prevent local governments from banning fracking and in some years the legislation would have allowed the industry to hide the chemicals used from public record. Gov. Rick Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection has supported the legislation.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature didn’t pass a bill that would have established a temporary ban on fracking to allow for a study about the impact on water. Opponents feared it was a way to eventually allow fracking in Florida, which has been opposed by some local communities including Broward County.

Since the debate, in fundraising emails Canova has repeatedly bashed Wasserman Schultz for her position. The two are competing in the Aug. 30th primary in a district that stretches from western Broward to northern Miami-Dade.

“Fracking is a terrible idea and I am just appalled that Wasserman Schultz wants to allow this controversial drilling practice here in Florida,” he wrote in an Aug. 22 fundraising email.

On Monday, the Miami Herald sent Wasserman Schultz’s campaign a list of questions asking her to provide more specifics about what types of regulations she would support and if she would oppose fracking if a city, county or state opposed it.

Her campaign issued a press release Tuesday about her position:

"Let me be clear, I am against fracking, especially in Florida, because of the sensitivity of our aquifer, which is the source of our drinking water, the environmental damage that it could do to our ecosystem in sensitive areas like the Everglades and, as a mom and a cancer survivor, the serious health risks that accompany fracking.  

“I support any and all regulation of fracking and have consistently used my vote to support stronger regulation and oversight of fracking, like closing loopholes in the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“As a federal legislator, I support regulations that are severe enough to push the fracking industry out of existence. However, federal law currently prohibits regulation of fracking on private land, therefore I support a ban on fracking at the state level. Given the terrible track record of my Republican colleagues in Congress – not to mention Governor Rick Scott and a Republican-controlled state legislature – I would support a range of means, including a constitutional amendment to ban fracking in Florida.”

When asked why she said she said she called for “regulations” but didn’t call for a “ban” during the debate, Wasserman Schultz’s spokesman Ryan Banfill said that the question came up during a brief lightning round of questions.

“It was at the very end of hour long debate,” he said. “These are not questions that have 10-second answers.”

August 22, 2016

Tim Canova ready with dozens of Broward poll watchers


Tim Canova's campaign has registered 33 poll watchers in Broward County for the primary.

Meanwhile, his Democratic rival -- U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- has zero, according to a list we obtained from the Broward Supervisor of Elections today.

The Florida Democratic Party registered 21 poll watchers in Broward. The only other poll watcher is one person for Brenda Forman who is running for the Clerk of Courts position held by her husband, Howard Forman, who is retiring.

The deadline to register poll watchers was Aug. 16. Poll watchers can stand within voting areas and monitor on behalf of campaigns.

J.C. Planas, an elections lawyer for Republicans in Miami-Dade, previously told the Miami Herald that campaigns rarely use poll watchers for primaries -- but he says they should. 

"Poll watching provides verification that the process is running smoothly," he told the Herald in March before the presidential primary when Donald Trump used dozens of poll watchers. "I consider it an important part of a campaign's legal strategy to make sure the process fair."

The Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections has released a list of poll watchers only for early voting and not yet for election day. That list shows no poll watchers for Canova or Wasserman Schultz.

Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in the Aug. 30th primary in a district that stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County. 


Tim Canova attacks Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Big Sugar, DNC role in TV ads

Tim Canova has released two new TV ads attacking U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, over her positions on Big Sugar and payday loans and related to her resignation as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The ads are running on local cable and broadcast outlets. The Democrats are competing in a Broward/Miami-Dade district in the Aug. 30 primary.

Here are the ads: