June 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets Broward firefighters endorsement

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has been endorsed by the Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters.

Wasserman Schultz is running in a primary against first-time candidate Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor. Canova was endorsed today by the Pipefitters union. They are competing in a Broward/Miami-Dade Congressional District 23.

Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for Wasserman Schultz this weekend in Coconut Grove.


Broward congressional candidate Tim Canova gets additional labor endorsement

Tim Canova will be endorsed by the Piperfitters Union Local 725 today at noon at his Hollywood headquarters.

Canova's previous labor endorsements include the Communication Workers of America and National Nurses United.

Canova is running in a Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. Most of left-leaning Congressional District 23 is in Broward while a slice of it is in northern Miami-Dade.

The race has drawn considerable national attention. Both candidates have big names on their side: Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, has been endorsed by President Barack Obama while Canova was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Canova has raised close to $2 million. Wasserman Schultz raised $1.8 million through March but hasn't provided a more recent update yet. Campaign finance reports are next due July 15.

Check out Wasserman Schultz's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact Florida and Canova's Truth-O-Meter record.


June 06, 2016

Former Broward County Commissioner Marcia Beach was advocate for disabled

At the height of her political powers, then-Broward County Commissioner Marcia Beach stunned the county’s government leadership: She quit.

It was October 1985. As chairwoman of the commission four years earlier, Beach had steered Broward through a withering tax revolt and recall effort. Now, her reelection seemed assured.

But Beach had just begun law school — a decision she made to ensure she earned enough to protect her teenage daughter, Shannon, who had been born with a devastating disability. And, at 40, Beach had been unable to juggle the demands of law school and public life.

It was the kind of decision Beach would make again and again: Shannon came first, as did the millions of Floridians who were like her. Beach died Saturday in Lakeland.

Keep reading Carol Marbin Miller's story here.

May 31, 2016

Alan Koslow co-defendant released on $50,000 bond

Susan Mohr, the co-defendant in the money laundering case with lobbyist Alan Koslow, surrended in federal court today in Fort Lauderdale.

Mohr was released on a $50,000 bond, said her attorney Michael B. Cohen.

Koslow is set to surrender on Thursday. Koslow and Mohr were charged with one count of money laundering last week stemming from an FBI sting that ended in 2013. A key question remains unanswered: why would it take federal prosecutors three years to file the charges in what wasn't a very complicated case? In past corruption cases, those facing charges have helped federal law enforcement nab others. Also unclear is how Koslow and Mohr know each other.

Read here for a refresher about the case.

May 27, 2016

Congressional Black Caucus endorses Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is running against first-time candidate Tim Canova for a Broward/Miami-Dade seat.

From a press release:

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent and reliable leader and voice on issues of importance to African Americans and all Americans. As a Member of Congress, she has supported the Congressional Black Caucus’ agenda on issues such as voting rights, HBCU funding, fair sentencing guidelines, affordable housing, creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses, and lifting the people out of poverty and into the middle class to name a few. As leader of the Democratic National Committee, she has “walked the walk” with an unprecedented number of senior level African American appointments and policies that have provided historical opportunities for African American policy makers, operatives, activists and businesses. Under her leadership, both the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions have set diversity goals that meet and exceed levels of past minority participation. Her commitment to diversity is unwavering and the advances under her leadership are unquestioned."

It's not a surprise that Wasserman Schultz's colleagues in the House endorsed her -- she is the Democratic National Committee chair and has served in Congress since first winning her seat in 2004. But the endorsement gives her some good publicity during a week when there were news reports about whether some Democrats -- most notably Bernie Sanders who is backing Canova -- are hoping she is replaced as DNC chair.

But it seems unlikely Democrats would want to give that type of ammunition to Republicans this close to an election. Also in her favor: President Barack Obama won Florida both times while Wasserman Schultz was the chair, and he has endorsed her in her Congressional race. Plus Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Coconut Grove to fundraise for her in June. 

Canova announced earlier today that he was endorsed by the Democracy for America PAC, the group started by Howard Dean.

About 13 percent of the district's voting age population is black in Congressional District 23 which spans from Weston to northern Miami-Dade. South Florida members who are in the Congressional Black Caucus include Frederica Wilson and Alcee Hastings.

Broward Democrats hire deputy political director

The Broward Democratic Party hired David Metellus to serve as deputy political director and get out the vote coordinator.

Metellus has previously worked for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- who is in a primary battle against Tim Canova -- and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch. Metellus is a native of Coconut Creek.

Particularly in presidential years the campaigns have their own turnout operations and don't rely on county party groups. But the county's Democrats have a poor record of turning out in non-presidential cycles -- see Republican Gov. Rick Scott's victories in 2010 and 2014 -- and in primaries.

The Florida Democratic Party also has 12 field staff working out of the county party's headquarters in Plantation and an office in Pompano Beach. 

Tim Canova endorsed by Democracy for America PAC

Tim Canova has been endorsed by Democracy for America, the progressive PAC founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

The PAC has also endorsed Bernie Sanders who is backing Canova in his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Broward/Miami-Dade district.

Canova got the endorsement "because he has spent his life challenging the power of Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the systemic political corruption that keeps them profitable at the expense of everyone else," said Jim Dean, chaor of the PAC. "From her vote in support of fast track authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership to her unabashed protection of a payday lending industry that makes billions off the back struggling working families, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has aligned herself with the wealthy interests who are making income inequality worse in our country."

Democracy for America has raised $36.6 million to help elect 843 progressive candidates nationwide since 2004, according to a press release from the PAC. This cycle in Florida, the PAC also endorsed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson who is running for U.S. Senate and Susannah Randolph who is running for Congress.

Canova's fundraising has picked up steam since Sanders announced on CNN last weekend that he supports Canova who has raised more than $1.5 million in his first bid for office. His fundraising prowess has helped land him interviews with national outlets including MSNBC and Fox News, increasing his exposure.

Wasserman Schultz, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, raised $1.8 million through March. Her campaign has not announced how much she has raised since that date. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said a fundraiser he hosted in May raised $50,000 for her and Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for her in June at the Coconut Grove home of Stephen Bittel.  



May 26, 2016

Hollywood lawyer Alan Koslow charged in money laundering case

Alan Koslow, a longtime politically connected lawyer in Broward, was charged with money laundering by federal law enforcement Thursday related to an FBI sting that involved counterfeit Viagra and narcotics.

Koslow will surrender June 2 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer in Fort Lauderdale. Koslow, a former city of Hollywood attorney, worked for the Becker & Poliakoff law firm in Fort Lauderdale and was a lobbyist. The law firm was not involved in the crime, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Koslow, 62, of Hollywood, and Susan Mohr, 57, of Delray Beach, were charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy related to laundering what they say was cash proceeds from illegal activity. Mohr will surrender May 31.

Here is what happened, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

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 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.

Both face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Koslow was Hollywood’s city attorney from 1990-93 until he resigned after it came to light that he had a relationship with a city secretary with whom he helped negotiate a lawsuit settlement. In 1994 he agreed to a 30-day suspension from practicing law after admitting he violated the rules of the Florida Bar.

He was later a regular force at City Hall, where he represented developers in many big deals. Koslow established Becker & Poliakoff’s first gaming division and represented slot-machine manufacturers.

Keep reading here.


Will Gov. Rick Scott appoint Republican to lefty Broward Commission?

Gov. Rick Scott has a rare opportunity to appoint a Republican to the liberal Broward County Commission but he hasn't said whether he will fill the seat.

Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter takes over as the county's tourism director June 5th replacing Nicki Grossman who is retiring. (Grossman departs just in time to celebrate getting the 2020 Super Bowl and avoiding the brawl over whether to call it a "South Florida" or "Miami" event.)

Scott's office hasn't said whether he will appoint a replacement -- he appears to be waiting for an official resignation letter from Ritter.

Any appointment of a Republican would likely only last a few months because the seat is up for election this year and the district leans left. 

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine, a Democrat, is the only candidate who has officially filed to run for the northwestern Broward seat.

Currently, there is one Republican on the nine-member commission: Chip LaMarca, who represents northeast Broward. Grossman told us it had been decades since the commission had more than one Republican on it at the same time.

May 25, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sided with medical marijuana proponents in a vote despite past opposition


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who has taken heat for her opposition to medical marijuana, quietly took a vote in favor of it last week.

In 2014, she opposed Florida’s constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana — a rare position for a South Florida Democrat — that led to a spat between her and wealthy trial lawyer John Morgan, who bankrolled the amendment. A similar measure will appear on the ballot in November.

In the past, as a Democrat in a safe liberal district, Wasserman Schultz faced no political repercussions at the ballot box for taking a position out of step with her constituents. But criticism about her stances carry more weight this year because she faces a well-funded Democratic challenger: Tim Canova, who supports medical marijuana.

That’s why her vote related to medical marijuana last week has drawn some attention.

On May 19, Wasserman Schultz joined all but five Democrats in voting in favor of an amendment to allow military veterans’ access to state medical marijuana programs, as first reported by Marijuana.com. A directive currently prohibits Veterans Administration doctors from filling out forms for state medical marijuana programs or discussing the use of medical marijuana with patients.

Keep reading here.