July 25, 2017

Wasserman Schultz fires arrested IT staffer under investigation

DWSinblue

@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has fired an IT worker arrested on bank fraud.

Imran Awan was fired Tuesday, according to her office spokesman David Damron.

"Mr. Awan previously served as an employee in our office, but his services have been terminated,” he said in an email.

Fox News reported that Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport Tuesday after buying a ticket to Pakistan on Monday with a return ticket for January.

Awan, 37, of Lorton, Virginia, was arraigned Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on one count of bank fraud, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington D.C.

Awan pled not guilty and was released pursuant to a high-intensity supervision program which requires him to use a GPS monitor, abide by a curfew and not leave a 50-mile radius of his home. Awan was also ordered to turn over all of his passports.  A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21.

A federal criminal complaint posted by Politico Tuesday states that Awan and his wife Hina Alvi attempted to defraud a Congressional credit union. The couple obtained a $165,000 home loan by making misrepresentations, including about their use of a residence as a primary residence and not a rental property. Alvi left for Pakistan in March and the FBI does not believe she intends to return.

Imran has been under a criminal investigation for equipment and data theft for several months. Many of his relatives, who have also worked for House members, have also been a part of that investigation.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Capital Police, Eva Malecki, told the Miami Herald in February that the United States Capitol Police began the investigation at the request of members of Congress and that no members were being investigated. 

Awan has worked for various members of the House since 2004.

This post has been updated with information from the U.S. Attorney's Office

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold tele town hall on health care

DWSAPmug

@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, will hold a tele town hall about health care Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a motion to proceed with debate about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Wasserman Schultz has been a champion of President Barack Obama's signature legislation passed in 2010 although she has called for some fixes.

Among the problems, she told WPLG Channel 10, is that in numerous places around the country there is "very little choice in terms of competition among companies that provide policies."

Wasserman Schultz's spokesman Michael Liquerman said that a tele town hall allows her to reach a greater audience than an in-person event because thousands can participate.

But it also allows Wasserman Schultz to avoid in-person confrontation by critics, including supporters of her primary opponent Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who has advocated for single payer health care.

Although Democratic support for single payer health care is rising, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere in Congress. There is a great deal of disagreement among experts regarding how much single payer health care would cost.

A single payer bill, H.R. 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, was introduced in February but has received no votes.

Wasserman Schultz is not one of the 115 cosponsors of the single payer bill. She has spoken in favor of a public option which would provide competition for insurers. 

Wasserman Schultz beat Canova by about 14 percentage points in August in the district which stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County. She easily beat her Republican challenger, Joe Kaufman, in the left-leaning district.

The tele town hall is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. although that could change depending upon the House vote schedule. Constituents will receive a robocall with the phone number. Wasserman Schultz is expected to take questions from constituents and the media.

This post has been updated to include additional information from Wasserman Schultz's office

 

July 06, 2017

Lawsuit against HB 7069 looms in Broward; Corcoran calls it 'clueless, arguably heartless'

02BALLET BUS_CPJ (1)

@ByKristenMClark

The bitter fight over new K-12 public school reforms that the Republican-led Legislature approved this spring entered a new stage on Wednesday when the Broward County School Board voted unanimously to challenge the law’s constitutionality in court.

Broward is the first school district to vote to sue over the passage of House Bill 7069, which became law Saturday above passionate objections from school administrators, teachers’ unions and parent groups statewide for its many provisions friendly to charter schools, in some cases, at the expense of traditional public schools.

“I’m in favor of taking aggressive action as soon as we possibly can,” Broward School Board member Rosalind Osgood said during a special board meeting convened solely to authorize Superintendent Robert Runcie to file the legal challenge and to spend up to $25,000 on initial legal fees.

MORE: “Here’s how the controversial new schools law will impact South Florida”

“We’re on life support now, and we have to literally fight for the life of public education in this state,” Osgood said. “If we don’t stand up now, if we miss this opportunity, we’ll never recover from it.”

It’s unclear how soon the lawsuit will be filed.

Broward County’s allegations of unconstitutionality primarily surround how HB 7069 gives charter schools a leg up over traditional public schools through less-restrictive regulations and extra taxpayer funding that make it easier for them to expand.

In a statement to the Herald/Times, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, blasted the Broward School Board for its decision, saying in part: "Not only is it clueless, it is also arguably heartless."

Full story here.

Photo credit: Miami Herald file

July 03, 2017

Tim Canova reports he raised $32,000 in first two weeks

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova's campaign reported that he raised about $32,000 during the last two weeks of June after he kicked off his rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Canova raised $31,928 through 1,323 in small donations with an average donation of $24, according to his campaign. Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who lives in Hollywood, has made campaign finance reform a key platform of his campaign and pledged not to take donations from corporate interests or political action committees. During his failed 2016 bid against Wasserman Schultz, he criticized her for taking money from Wall Street banks.

Wasserman Schultz raised about $269,000 through March and hasn't yet announced what she raised through June. She represents the left-leaning Congressional District 23 which stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County.

The first fundraising period for Canova is so short that it doesn't provide much of an indication of his fundraising prospects this cycle. In 2016, Canova hit the $1 million mark about four months into his first campaign for elected office.

Campaigns must submit fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by July 15.

 

June 29, 2017

Confederate streets force Hollywood, Fla., to grapple with Civil War ghosts

SIGN0623 FORREST CTJ (1)
@PatriciaMazzei @CrossingBordas

Every day after he’s done delivering mail in Miami Gardens, postman Jonathan Anderson returns home to Hollywood, where he strolls the neighborhood to check in with family and friends. Like him, most of them are African-American.

So it is especially hurtful to pass by three streets whose names might mean little to the uninformed. But Anderson knows: Forrest, Hood and Lee were three Confederate generals. Forrest was considered the father of the Ku Klux Klan.

“To me, when you walk out your door and see those names, and you are conscious of what they stand for, then it becomes something so distasteful you can’t shake it,” said Anderson, 62. “It is a showing from a very dark past that my ancestors had to go through — what we are still going through.”

Of all the places still grappling with the Civil War’s ugly legacy, the most unexpected might be sleepy Hollywood, a Broward County bedroom community founded 60 years after the war’s end, with zero claims to its history and located so far south it’s closer to the Caribbean than to the old Confederacy.

Yet the city has stuck with Confederate streets in a black neighborhood, ignoring renaming requests a decade and a half ago. For the past two years, the idea has been grinding through an unhurried bureaucracy to — perhaps, finally — christen them anew. 

Exasperated by Hollywood’s dawdling, a protest calling for the streets to be renamed turned nasty last week when pro-Confederates arrived and, according to a black state legislator, hurled racial epithets at him and other African Americans and Hispanics. The demonstration of about 150 people outside City Hall ended with five arrests when protesters disrupted a commission meeting.

“Blacks see what’s happening nationally and think, ‘Hell, no, this is not about to happen again,’” said state Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat from neighboring West Park who said he was called a “monkey” and a “nigger.” “We will be vocal, and we will not sit on the sidelines.”

More here.

Photo credit: Charles Trainor Jr. Miami Herald staff

June 26, 2017

Javier Manjarres, Shark Tank blogger, considers bid against Ted Deutch

Javier-full-2-1200x630

@amysherman1

Javier Manjarres, who publishes the conservative Shark Tank politics website, is considering a bid against U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

Manjarres would face an uphill battle running as a Republican in the left-leaning Congressional District 22 which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale and other areas of northern and western Broward and Boca Raton.

In 2016, Deutch easily beat his Republican opponent, Andrea Leigh McGee, who worked in real estate and was unknown in South Florida politics. Deutch beat McGee 59 to 41 percent. Deutch spent about $1.6 million while McGee spent $21,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Manjarres, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, is far better known in Republican circles because he has had contacts for years with politicians, candidates and their consultants through his  Shark Tank website which covers state and national races. Manjarres said he can tap that network to raise far more money that Deutch's previous opponent. 

"What if I am able to raise $1 million and spend $1 million in the district?" Manjarres said. ""If I can get Republicans out in droves and independents, it's going to be very competitive."

But Deutch is well-known and popular among Democrats in the liberal district. A former state senator, he was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been known as a consistent voice in favor of gay rights and abortion rights and a leader on Jewish issues, a key constituency in District 22. Deutch opposed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

In 2016, Manjarres was arrested after he was accused of threatening his sister's boyfriend, Jason Holowinski, in Boca Raton. Holowinski told police that he and his girlfriend were arguing and that Manjarres ambushed him and fired a bullet into his vehicle. But Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, announced that no charges would be filed included attempted murder after Holowinski refused to cooperate.

Here is Manjarres' statement about his political plans on his blog:  

“After speaking with my trusted colleagues, friends and family about future career opportunities, I have decided to explore the possibility of running for the U.S. Congress in Florida’s 22nd congressional district.

It was clear that after the historic 2016 elections, Americans rejected the agenda and policies of the outgoing Obama Administration that they believe were threatening the American way of life.

Even with Republicans in control of congress, it is of the utmost importance that Republicans continue to win the public’s trust and reform all aspects of the federal government.

It is time for all  pouting members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who have been comporting themselves like petulant obstructionist children, put the American people first before political ideology or party, and remember that they are 1 of 435 individuals tasked to serve all Americans, regardless of the race, color, sexual persuasions, or political party affiliation.

I look forward to having a substantive and productive dialogue with not just the residents of south Florida, but with the American people at large.”

Deutch said in a written statement:

"I take every race seriously and I always welcome a spirited debate over the direction of our country. This week I am going to Washington to fight the disastrous Trumpcare bill. At home I am fighting for our veterans, working constantly with local officials to help our businesses create more jobs, and combating the effects of climate change that are already impacting our community. And every day, I am working to keep our country safe." 

 

June 21, 2017

Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at Hollywood protest to change Confederate street signs

Jones Shevrin@PatriciaMazzei

A black state legislator says he was called a "nigger" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, tweeted Wednesday that he was also told "to go back where I came from" at a protest outside Hollywood City Hall that resulted in the arrest of five people who interrupted a commission meeting. The board was not taking up the street names.

Pro-Confederate counter-protesters apparently showed up at the rally, leading to the incident recounted by Jones.

Jones wrote that he attended to protest to take down the signs, which run through the predominantly black Hollywood neighborhood of Liberia. The demonstration was organized in part by the Black Lives Matter movement and local pastors.

Lee Street is named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Hood Street is named after Gen. John B. Hood, a division commander at the Battle of Antietam. Forrest Street is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general said to be the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, though Forrest later denied he held the position.

Jones' tweets are worth reading in full:

Continue reading "Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at Hollywood protest to change Confederate street signs" »

June 15, 2017

Here's what Canova told media about Wasserman Schultz rematch

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova announced a rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Thursday at a meeting of the Broward County Democratic progressive caucus.

After his speech, the Nova Southeastern University law professor took a few questions from the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel about his second campaign, his January Facebook post about DNC staffer Seth Rich who was murdered, and about U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders who endorsed his 2016 bid.

Here is a transcript of part of the interview:

Question: “Last year she was at her most vulnerable ever and you couldn’t beat her six weeks after that [DNC email] scandal...”

Canova: “She was not at her most vulnerable ever. There was a presumption that she was maybe even going to be in a Hillary Clinton White House or cabinet, your premise Amy is a little bit off there. She was not at her most vulnerable at all.”

Question: “She faced the most public criticism and biggest downfall we had ever seen. You couldn’t beat her then...”

Canova: “I had a been candidate for less eight months -- three months before we did a poll that showed me down by something like 60 points. It was a remarkable achievement to come as close as we did.”

Question: “What will you do differently this time?"

Canova: “Announce a lot earlier.”

Question: “In terms of issues? strategy?”

Canova: “I will say this: the reason we came from so far behind was because of the issues in many ways. We knocked on a lot doors, we spoke to voters -- we learned what their issues were and it's not surprising that their issues were our issues. Most people want good jobs, they want economic security, they want health care and education -- that’s what we focused on -- that’s what we keep focusing on.”

Question: “What is it you’re going to do differently besides announcing six months earlier?”

Canova: “I didn’t say I was going to do a lot differently. I said we were going to keep focusing on the issues.”

Question: “[DNC staffer] Seth Rich -- do you still believe he was murdered because of the DNC leaks?”

Canova: “I do believe he was murdered -- yes. I am sure my opponent would also like to know who killed Seth Rich.”

Question: “But do you think he was killed because of the DNC email leaks?”

Canova: “I have no idea ... What I said on Facebook was that folks had suggested it and we should find out what happened. It's that simple.”

Question: “Do you think it has anything to do with the DNC?”

Canova: “I have no idea. I wondered what the DNC under Wasserman Schultz was capable of but I don’t know. That’s not the issues that I am focusing on. I know that’s the issue that Wasserman Schultz would like you to ask me, but that’s not the issue that I spoke about today.”

Question: “Have you talked to Bernie Sanders about your run this time and will he be involved?”

Canova: “No comment.”

Miami Herald 2016 file photo

Tim Canova announces rematch against Wasserman Schultz in Broward

DWS CANOVA DEBATE a epf

@amysherman1

Tim Canova announced he will seek a rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after decisively losing to her August, weeks after she hit a political low point after stepping down as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“A year ago the eyes of the nation were on this race and the stakes were very high,” Canova said at a Broward Democratic progressive caucus meeting in Plantation Thursday night. “I say the stakes are still very high. We’ve got a president right now and a Congress, Republican dominated, that are pushing the most rabid inhumane radical type of agenda that I could have ever imagined.”

In 2016, Canova tapped into Bernie Sanders’ small donors and anger at the political establishment to raise about $3.8 million in the race for South Florida’s 23rd congressional district. A Nova Southeastern University law professor, Canova ran to the left of Wasserman Schultz by bashing her for taking money from corporate donors and big Sugar.

But Wasserman Schultz, first elected to Congress in 2004, drew support from Democratic heavyweights including President Barack Obama and focused on her long record supporting liberal causes such as abortion and gay rights. In August, she won by about 14 percentage points in the Broward/Miami-Dade district and then easily defeated Republican Joe Kaufman.

The question now is whether Canova’s prime opportunity to unseat Wasserman Schultz has passed.

Keep reading here.

June 14, 2017

Alcee Hastings endorses Andrew Gillum for Florida governor

Alcee2
 
@amysherman1
 
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his 2018 race for Florida governor.
 
Hastings, who has served 13 terms, is the longest serving member of the Democratic Florida delegation and represents a heavily left-leaning Broward/Palm Beach district. Hastings chose Gillum over his former Congressional colleague, Gwen Graham, and Orlando businessman Chris King who are also running. This is the first endorsement by a sitting member of Congress from Florida in the race so far.
 
Here is Hastings' statement from the Gillum campaign press release:
 
“We live in historically troubling times, and last year's election result proved that the stakes are high. I feel it necessary to make my voice heard early in this process, so that Democrats and all Floridians understand what is at stake in the 2018 election. For the last 20 years, under Republican rule in Tallahassee, communities of color across the state have suffered from a lack of job opportunities, poor access to quality public education, and access to quality and affordable healthcare. As Democrats, we need to make significant changes, and in this spirit, I believe that Mayor Andrew Gillum is the right choice to lead our state.
 
“Mayor Gillum is an innovative pragmatic progressive leader that Florida desperately needs to confront our biggest challenges: attacking climate change, rebuilding our economy, protecting access to healthcare, and revitalizing public education. He has shown the courage to stand up for what he believes in, and he has never hesitated to give a voice to those who need one most. Floridians can trust Andrew Gillum to rebuild our state into one that works for everyone.
 
“There are outstanding Democrats that have announced or are mentioned as running for governor in our state.  My support of Andrew should not be construed as being against others.  I will vigorously support the Democratic nominee for governor and do all that I can to ensure that our state goes from Red to Blue in 2018."
 
This post was updated to reflect that Hastings is the Democratic dean of the Florida delegation.