July 12, 2017

Diaz-Balart casts crucial vote that could allow horse slaughters in U.S.

Mario for fabi

@alextdaugherty 

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart voted against a long-approved ban on federal funds for horse slaughter inspectors on Wednesday, opening the door for horse slaughter to resume in the United States if the measure passes Congress.

The final vote tally was 25 in favor of the ban and 27 against. Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, previously voted in favor of the ban, meaning his switch was critical in sinking the ban this time around.

The ban was an amendment tacked on to the annual Department of Agriculture funding bill, and a tie vote would have resulted in the ban failing. Diaz-Balart voted in favor of the ban in 2014 but said the ban “did not yield the positive results that many envisioned and I had hoped for” and voted against the ban the last three years.

The ban on horse slaughter inspector funding passed the House committee in 2014 and 2016 but failed in 2015. The Senate overruled the House’s decision that year.

Horses raised in the United States are not intended to be eaten by humans, but U.S. horses can be transported to other countries and slaughtered for meat according to European Union standards. Horse meat is considered taboo in the United States, but it is eaten in parts of Europe and Asia.

Diaz-Balart argued that U.S. horses are still slaughtered outside the country, where they are not subject to inspections and oversight by the Department of Agriculture.

“The reality is, if these horses are not dealt with in USDA certified and inspected facilities, they will be hauled off to a foreign market where the conditions are much more cruel and less humane,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. The Government Accountability Office “found that the ban shifted slaughter facilities to other countries, including Mexico, where humane methods and responsible oversight are not as rigorous as those in the U.S. GAO has also observed that there is not enough space in rescue facilities in the U.S. to handle abandoned horses.”

The GAO report said horse exports for slaughter to Mexico increased by 680 percent from 2006 to 2010, after Congress stopped funding slaughter inspections.

“Since domestic horse slaughter ceased in 2007, the slaughter horse market has shifted to Canada and Mexico,” the report said. “As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses was transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010 – nearly 138,000 – as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased.”

Republicans from western states with large populations of wild horses were the primary opponents of the ban, arguing that current methods of controlling wild horses aren’t enough. Wild horses, which have no natural predators, can disrupt food sources for other animals, but horse advocates say allowing horse slaughter is a handout to ranchers who dislike the horses because they compete with their cattle for food on public range land.

Four Republicans, including Florida Rep. Tom Rooney, voted in favor of the ban, while Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote with the Republican majority. The bipartisan amendment was cosponsored by California Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent.

Appropriations Committee member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, spoke in favor of the ban during Wednesday's markup, arguing that population-control problems for wild horses is not a reason to open the door for horse slaughter.

“The inability to deal with that challenge does not make it okay to leave the door open for the possibility of horse slaughter in the United States of America,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman Schultz compared the slaughtering of horses to the slaughtering of greyhounds in Florida, which she said was banned while she worked in the Florida Legislature. Even though adoption programs for greyhounds didn't work, the state continued to find solutions that didn’t involve killing greyhounds.

“Those are the steps that we should be taking, not literally holding a machete to the neck of a horse in order to make sure that we can solve a problem that I’m sure in the states where it is an issue needs solving,” Wasserman Schultz said. “We should not do something that most Americans find abhorrent and allow even a step toward the slaughter of horses.”

Roybal-Allard argued that funding horse-slaughter inspectors doesn't have anything to do with controlling wild horses and only serves to benefit ranchers who want to slaughter horse meat for consumption abroad.

“Let me reiterate the fact that this bill does not address the issue of wild horses,” Roybal-Allard said. “It deals only with domestic horses slaughtered for human consumption. Let us not fall victim to the notion that horse slaughter would be humane if somehow done in the United States because no amount of regulation will change the essential nature of a horse and make it a humane practice.”

The Department of Agriculture funding bill still needs pass the House, so there is still a chance the ban on horse slaughter inspections could be reinserted.

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 22, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says former DHS secretary is "utterly misinformed" about contact regarding DNC Russian hacks

ELECTION0831 WASSERMAN CTJ@alextdaugherty

Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that former Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson was "utterly misinformed" after Johnson testified to Congress under oath on Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee refused his organization's help regarding Russian hacking in the 2016 election. 

"The former secretary of homeland security testified yesterday about the Russian hacks during the election and he flat out said that the DNC refused his department's help. You put out a statement afterward basically saying that Jeh Johnson was wrong, where is he wrong?" CNN's Kate Bolduan asked Wasserman Schultz.  

"He's wrong in every respect," Wasserman Schultz said. "Let me just be very clear, at no point during my tenure at the DNC was I contacted by the FBI, DHS or any government agency, or alerted or made aware that they believe the Russians, an enemy state, was intruding on our network." 

Johnson said the opposite during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

"I spelled out in my opening statement -- my prepared statement, the first time I recall hearing about the hack into the DNC," Johnson said. "And I recalled that it had been some months before I was learning of this that the FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other about this. And I was not very happy to be learning about it several months later, very clearly." 

Wasserman Schultz stepped down as head of the DNC on July 24, 2016 after leaked emails from WikiLeaks showed that Wasserman Schultz expressed contempt towards Bernie Sanders' campaign manager. She vehemently denied that Johnson or anyone from the Department of Homeland Security directly contacted the DNC about Russian hacking beyond phoning the organization's tech support. 

"The FBI and other federal agencies did virtually nothing to make sure that when they were aware or concerned that there was an intrusion on our network by the Russians that they did virtually nothing to sound the alarm bells to make us aware of that," Wasserman Schultz said. 

Video below: 

 

 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz take on the media — in softball

Image1

@alextdaugherty 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had her shot to one-up the Fourth Estate on the softball field Wednesday night, as she suited up against Washington reporters decades her junior who spend their days needling members of Congress about Donald Trump’s latest tweet or trying to snag a quote for their story.

But just after Ros-Lehtinen took her place in right field in the first inning of the ninth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, NPR reporter Tamara Keith blooped a single that scooted underneath the glove of the longtime Miami Republican.

“Sorry!” Ros-Lehtinen yelled as she ran after the ball.

Sprinting after her was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the ultra-competitive second baseman for congressional team, ready to field Ros-Lehtinen’s cutoff throw.

But their combined efforts couldn’t stop two runs from scoring, and the play turned out to be the decisive blow in a close 2-1 game won by the reporters.

“We come out here to practice two or three mornings a week and for an old lady like me it feels really good,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Wednesday’s game was more than just an opportunity for reporters and politicians to take out their frustrations on one another, it was also a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.

The annual game was started by Wasserman Schultz and former Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., in 2009 to build bipartisanship and raise funds for a charity dedicated to helping young women identify and treat breast cancer.

Wasserman Schultz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and when she decided to go public in 2009, Emerson approached her about starting the game.

“The idea was the baseball game was played by men but we didn’t really have a sport the women played,” Wasserman Schultz said.

The first game in 2009 pitted members of Congress against their staffers, but “they were much younger so we didn’t do very well,” Waserman Schultz said. Ever since, members of Congress have played the press.

Wednesday’s game raised $292,097.59 for the Young Survival Coalition and the game has raised more than $1.1 million for charity since 2009.

“It’s so personal for me and all these women on the press team,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The softball field is a politics-free zone.”

But it’s not a competition-free zone.

Wasserman Schultz, a team captain along with Ros-Lehtinen, was involved in numerous collisions at second base and pumped her fist when Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida made an accurate throw to her to nail a runner.

“I’m a little competitive,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Read more here. 

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. 


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 13, 2017

Tim Canova to announce 2018 political plans Thursday

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova, who lost a heated Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in August, will announce his political plans for 2018 Thursday.

Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor and Hollywood resident, confirmed to the Miami Herald in a text Tuesday that he will announce his plans at a progressive caucus event at the Broward AFL-CIO office in Plantation at 6:30 p.m Thursday:

Canova wrote on Facebook  that he will speak at the event where he will be “making a big announcement on our plans for 2018, which will be live streamed on this page. You won't want to miss out!”

In September, Canova filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission so he could start fundraising in case he decided to run against Wasserman Schultz who represents a Broward/Miami-Dade district. But through April he hasn’t fundraised.

While Canova has argued someone on the left should challenge Wasserman Schultz, he hasn’t made clear if that someone will be him or whether he will run for another office. Two possibilities: he could be joining an already crowded Democratic field for governor or running against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida’s only statewide Democratic office holder who is likely to face Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Earlier this year, Canova delivered petitions to Nelson’s Coral Gables office to demand he take action to halt the Sabal Trail Pipeline.

Despite Canova’s loss to Wasserman Schultz by 14 percentage points in the August primary, his prolific fundraising showed he is a serious candidate. In his first race ever, Canova drew drew support from Bernie Sanders’ fans and raised $3.8 million.

Last year was the first time that Wasserman Schultz faced a challenge from the left in many years. She defended her seat when she was at her most vulnerable -- several weeks after she resigned as chair of the Democratic National Committee amid leaks of emails showing the party favored Hillary Clinton over Sanders.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Canova expressed frustration with the Florida Democratic Party and said that it is allowing Wasserman Schultz to make welcoming remarks at the annual Leadership Blue gala. Canova directed some of his ire at party chairman Stephen Bittel, an ally of Wasserman Schultz.

“Why the party would want to promote the very personification of scandal, disgrace, and failure to open the gala says more about the incompetence and bad faith of Bittel and his leadership team than any lip service they've given in recent months and even recent days about remaining neutral and impartial in contested primaries.”

But Wasserman Schultz's spokesman David Damron said that Wasserman Schultz isn't speaking at the gala.

The Florida Democratic Party has not yet released a list of speakers -- other than headliner former Vice President Joe Biden -- and declined to comment.

Nelson will speak at the event, his spokesman Ryan Brown said.

This post has been updated to include information from spokespersons for Wasserman Schultz and Nelson.

March 31, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz could propose gun legislation after airport shooting

AIRPORT0401 MEET CTJ

@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a roundtable Friday to discuss security at the Fort Lauderdale airport where a mass shooting occurred in January.

Wasserman Schultz met with federal, state and local law enforcement and government officials to discuss ways to improve security, mass shooting response and training — the second such roundtable the Weston Democrat has held. Most of the meeting held at Wasserman Schultz’s Sunrise office was in private. The media was allowed to ask questions to some of the participants after it ended.

Wasserman Schultz is considering proposing legislation related to rules about passengers transporting firearms. But any proposals about firearm restrictions could be dead on arrival in a Republican-led Congress.

Keep reading here.

March 03, 2017

Florida Jewish leaders meet to discuss bomb threats

DWSBrowcollegejewishmeeting

@amysherman1

South Florida Jewish leaders gathered in Broward Friday morning to strategize with law enforcement following a series of bomb threats nationwide that have forced evacuations of Jewish Community Centers.

On Friday morning, the FBI arrested Juan Thompson, 31, in St. Louis in connection to at least eight of the threats in a few states not including Florida. Thompson, a former journalist, allegedly made the threats to harass a woman. Authorities don’t believe he is the perpetrator behind the bulk of the threats nationwide.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, who organized the meeting at Broward College was grateful an arrest was made but said other perpetrators are still at large.

“I have been assured by our FBI, local law enforcement by all of the law enforcement involved in these investigations that this is being given the highest priority,” she said.

Leaders of Jewish schools, centers and synagogues held a closed-door briefing with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to discuss security preparedness. The media was then allowed to watch the public portion of the meeting during which leaders discussed ways that they are already working with government agencies to combat anti-Semitism including trainings for law enforcement about hate crimes. Leaders called for the Jewish community to speak up when they see hate crimes directed at Muslims or other groups and to work together with people of all faiths to combat bigotry.

Keep reading here.