July 28, 2016

PolitiFact: Did Trump bail on building condos in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa?

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine questioned Donald Trump’s business ethics, saying the Republican presidential candidate swindled customers in a past real estate deal in the Sunshine State.

"Retirees and families in Florida — they believed Donald Trump when he said he'd build them some condos. Thousands of them," Kaine said on the third night of the Democratic National Convention. "They paid their deposits, but the condos, they were never built. He just pocketed their money and walked away. They lost tens of thousands of dollars, all because they believed Donald Trump."

A Kaine spokesman told us the senator was referring to not one, but two failed condo projects: One in Tampa and one in Fort Lauderdale. Trump’s campaign did not respond.

We wanted to know if people lost tens of thousands of dollars in deposits while Trump took the money without consequence. Since there are two projects, we’ll take them one at a time.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

July 25, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz now faces battle for her South Florida seat

After quitting her national Democratic Party leadership role amid furor over thousands of leaked emails, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz now faces the political battle of her lifetime back home in South Florida.

Wasserman Schultz resigned as Democratic National Committee chairwoman Sunday, strengthening the hand of her primary opponent, Tim Canova — who saw a huge fundraising boost and national media attention following her decision.

While the Weston congresswoman spent Monday morning getting heckled by protesters in Philadelphia at her first public appearance since her resignation, Canova was in the district giving interviews to local TV stations, Univision and The Daily Beast — and meeting with constituents.

“I have not left the district in eight months,” Canova told the Miami Herald on Sunday. “That’s not going to change between now and Aug. 30. I don’t think there’s going to be a great need for me to go up to Philly and chase the spotlight. We’re making friends on the ground every day.”

Read more here from Amy Sherman and Patricia Mazzei.

Tim Kaine will fundraise in Fort Lauderdale Aug. 2

Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine will fundraise in Broward County Aug. 2.

Kaine will appear at an evening fundraiser at the Fort Lauderdale home of lawyer Mitchell Berger.

"It will be his first fundraiser in the nation," Berger said.

The campaign hasn't announced if Kaine will hold any other events while here. Kaine made his first debut at a public rally at Florida International University Saturday.

South Florida Democrats hold thank you event for Wasserman Schultz in Philadelphia

More than 400 people attended a “thank you” event for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at Del Frisco's steakhouse in Philadelphia Mondayafternoon. The event had been planned two weeks ago by South Florida Democratic donors.

Wasserman Schultz made no mention of the WikiLeaks emails and instead gave a few minutes of upbeat comments.

“She came in to a round of applause and everyone chanting ‘Debbie, Debbie,’” said Alex Heckler, a Democratic donor and lawyer from Miami Beach one of the co-hosts. “She went from hug to hug to hug.”

She thanked her husband, children and friends and said she was proud of her work for the party and as a member of Congress. She didn’t mention her primary opponent Tim Canova by name, although she reminded the crowd that she faces reelection on Aug. 30.

“She said she looks forward getting reelected and helping Hillary Clinton,” said Mike Moskowitz, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and co-host.

Developer Stephen Bittel hosted the event, and Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, was also a co-host.

The event was a contrast from the Florida delegation breakfast where she was heckled.

PolitiFact Florida looks at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's record on Big Sugar


A nasty-looking toxic algae bloom on Florida’s coasts has oozed into political races, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary.

Her opponent, Tim Canova, toured the mucky scene in Stuart wearing a surgical mask. He says that Wasserman Schultz shares in the blame for the algae that extends from Lake Okeechobee to Florida coastlines on the Treasure Coast and west coast.

Canova said Wasserman Schultz, who represents South Florida, has sided with the main polluters of the water that flows into the Everglades: the sugar industry.

Wasserman Schultz doesn’t "want us to know that she has voted for huge subsidies for the sugar industry and other agribusinesses, as well as for delays in cleanups, while failing to deliver federal funds for any real solution," he said on Medium July 9.

Wasserman Schultz defended her environmental record to the Sun Sentinel, concluding, "I will continue to walk the walk on fighting to restore our precious River of Grass while my opponent just continues to talk."

Time for PolitiFact Florida to weigh in.

Photo by the Palm Beach Post

Tim Canova gets fundraising boost from Debbie Wasserman Schultz resignation

Tim Canova, who is running in a primary against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, raised more than $100,000 since the Wikileaks email story broke as of mid-day Monday, said Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell.

"Except for the day that Bernie (Sanders) endorsed yesterday was our best day," Bell said.

The email story led Wasserman Schultz to resign.

Wasserman Schultz has raised about $3.1 million through June. Canova's campaign has raised more than $2.5 million through Monday. A Nova Southeastern University law professor from Hollywood, Canova is Wasserman Schultz's first primary opponent in the Broward/Miami-Dade district since she first won in 2004.

Wealthy Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan said Monday he is still deciding whether to invest in a PAC in an effort to defeat Wasserman Schultz. Morgan has said for months he was considering forming a PAC but was awaiting a poll to assess Canova's chances. No polls have been released in the race and Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell said the campaign hasn't polled.

"She has been severely damaged," Morgan said in an email to the Herald. "This is like 5MM of negative press. ... I think Philly has shown the world that what I have been saying everyone was thinking.

Wasserman Schultz resigned after 19,000 party emails were published on WikiLeaks. In her first public appearance at the DNC today at the Florida delegation breakfast, she encountered protests.

Vice President Joe Biden will host a fundraiser for Wasserman Schultz at the Cruz Building in Coconut Grove Aug. 5, said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mike Moskowitz.

After DNC email leak, Tim Canova may file an FEC complaint against Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Tim Canova's campaign may file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

"We are exploring it quite seriously," said Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell. The campaign has a lawyer, Leonard Collins of Broad and Cassel, who is researching a potential FEC complaint which relates to information gleaned from the 19,000 party emails published by Wikileaks.

The emails were released Friday leading Wasserman Schultz to announce her resignation Sunday.

Those emails showed that party staffers favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders

If the emails are authentic, “what they do is indicate not only has Debbie’s team had their thumb on the scale in the presidential race but it also seems in our campaign as well,” said Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell.

The emails show that the DNC was tracking Canova's media coverage and speaking engagements including what is referred to as an "Alaska Counter Event" in the emails. Canova, as well as Sanders' wife Jane, were scheduled to speak via Skype on the same evening that Wasserman Schultz was going to speak to the Alaska Democratic Party.

"This is all the FB post has so we need the state party to do some digging," wrote Luis Miranda, DNC spokesman.

The emails show that DNC staffers were working on Wasserman Schultz's primary even though they weren't paid by her campaign, Bell said.

Canova is her first primary reelection challenger in the Broward/Miami-Dade district since she was first elected in 2004. Sanders endorsed Canova.

Earlier this year Canova battled with the Florida Democratic Party to gain access to the voter file, which he eventually received. That's one of the topics in the DNC emails in which a staffer received a questions about whether Wasserman Schultz was involved in blocking Canova's access.

"Debbie was never involved in any way, shape or form," said Scott Arceneaux,  Florida Democratic Party executive director, in an one of the leaked emails.

This post will be updated if Wasserman Schultz's campaign responds.




July 24, 2016

Wasserman Schultz to step down as Democratic Party chair


PHILADELPHIA -- Engulfed by a political firestorm over damning leaked emails,, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Sunday she will step down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Her resignation will be effective at the end of the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday and ends Thursday in Philadelphia.

Story will be updated here

Here's her statement:

I have been privileged to serve as the DNC Chair for five and a half years helping to re-elect President Obama and Vice President Biden, strengthening our State Party Partnership in all 50 states, leading a vigorous primary election this past year while preparing for the general election and representing millions of Democrats across the country. I couldn’t be more excited that Democrats are nominating our first woman presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, a friend I have always believed in and know will be a great President.

We arrived here in Philadelphia with the most inclusive and progressive platform the party has ever proposed and a unified recommendation from the Rules Committee on our path forward as Democrats. I am proud of my role in leading these efforts.

My first priority has always been serving the people of the 23rd district of Florida and I look forward to continuing to do that as their member of Congress for years to come. As the mother of my three amazing children and the Representative of Florida’s 23rd congressional district, I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future. I look forward to serving as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and across the country to ensure her victory.

Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention. As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans. We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had.

I’ve been proud to serve as the first woman nominated by a sitting president as Chair of the Democratic National Committee and I am confident that the strong team in place will lead our party effectively through this election to elect Hillary Clinton as our 45th president.


Debbie Wasserman Schultz's tricky role at Democratic convention


A week before the start of the Democratic National Convention, its chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, strolled into the arena — of the opposing party’s presidential convention.

Heads turned. What’s she doing here, mouthed incredulous Republicans at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

But Wasserman Schultz, persona non grata at the GOP, wasn’t engaging in covert political ops. She was being escorted into one of CNN’s makeshift studios to do what she does best: aggressively deliver the Democratic Party line.

“We should never let Donald Trump anywhere near the White House,” she said in another CNN appearance later in the week.

Consider it a warm-up for the Democratic convention, which begins Monday in Philadelphia and which will mark the culmination of more than a year’s work for the Weston congresswoman.

For Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee, the convention will feel like a coronation. For Wasserman Schultz, the target of devotees of Clinton rival Bernie Sanders, it will probably feel much different. The woman tasked with holding the national party together is one of the reasons some of them feel divided.

On Friday, the WikiLeaks website published a trove of more than 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails that detail the party’s rancorous relationship with Sanders’ campaign. Last month, Wasserman Schultz acknowledged a “serious” email breach, that people knowledgeable about the incident blamed on Russian hackers.

More here.

UPDATE: CNN reports Wasserman Schultz won't deliver a convention speech -- unlike her Republican counterpart Reince Priebus last week -- "to keep the peace" among delegates in the wake of the email leak.

July 19, 2016

PolitiFact: Sharon Day misleads on Hillary Clinton and gender pay gap

Hillary Clinton is a hypocrite for playing the gender card, says Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee from South Florida.

"She repeatedly plays the gender card. In fact she boasts ‘deal me in.’ Well, Mrs. Clinton, consider yourself dealt in because as a senator you paid women less than the men in your office," said Day at the Republican convention July 19.

The gender pay gap is a frequent talking point -- sometimes botched -- by Democrats. So Day, a prominent Republican woman, is calling out the Democratic Party’s own here for the alleged sin of unequal pay. We could not reach Day Tuesday night.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.