August 09, 2016

PolitiFact: Debbie Wasserman Schultz claim about Rick Scott and mosquito money stings, but it's misleading

DWSSunriseSS

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pointed blame at Republicans -- namely Gov. Rick Scott -- for not doing more to dish out dollars to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

"While he seems to be saying out loud that he wants Congress and the president to provide more funding, he conveniently leaves out that he cut nearly $1 million dollars from mosquito control and closed down the state’s mosquito research lab a few years ago," Wasserman Schultz said at a town hall in Broward County on Aug. 8.

Wasserman Schultz is running for re-election in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary against first-time candidate Tim Canova.

Did Scott cut funding and close the state’s mosquito research lab? There’s a lot more nuance to this story than Wasserman Schultz lets on.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Photo by the Sun Sentinel

Bernie Sanders continues to fundraise for Tim Canova

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders sent another fundraising email today on behalf of Tim Canova who will face U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary Aug. 30.

"Much like in our campaign for president, Tim started off as a major underdog in this race, battling a well-known and well-established person who was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party," Sanders wrote. "He is running a tough campaign on the kind of progressive platform we need to see in this country: opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, backing free tuition at public colleges and universities, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Tim is on the side of working people and that's why we need to help him win."

No word yet on whether Sanders will appear in the Broward/Miami-Dade district on behalf of Canova. During the Florida primary, Sanders lost the district by a landslide to Hillary Clinton. The only appearance by Sanders in Broward during the presidential primary was when he spoke to the National Urban League in Fort Lauderdale in July 2015.

August 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she will announce debate details this week

DWSmicheralddaviejcc

It looks like Tim Canova and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will debate, but no details have been announced yet.

On Thursday, Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel editorial board that she would debate Canova, her primary opponent for a Broward/Miami-Dade congressional seat.

But nothing specific had been announced and after her Zika town hall today in Pembroke Pines she said she was "working on those details."

"Perhaps you have no intention of debating at all and that this was simply a smokescreen," Canova wrote in a letter to Wasserman Schultz today after asking her to debate for months.

This evening, Wasserman Schultz responded in a brief statement to the media: "I'm looking forward to debating my opponent on the issues that are most critical to the people of Florida's 23rd congressional district. I will announce details this week."

The opponents don't have much time left: the primary is Aug. 30th but voters have already started casting ballots by mail.
 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz bashes Rick Scott, Paul Ryan at Zika town hall

DWSSunriseSS

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pointed the finger at Gov. Rick Scott and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan for not protecting Florida and the nation from Zika.

In a town hall at a senior center in Pembroke Pines Monday morning, Wasserman Schultz bashed the Republicans in Congress and Ryan for leaving on recess without reaching an agreement on Zika funding.

“The reason we don’t have that bill on the president’s desk is that Republicans decided they were going to attach all these unrelated political riders onto Zika,” she said. “There were provisions like taking out funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Wasserman Schultz was referring to a House bill that would have blocked the flow of money to Profamilias, the Planned Parenthood chapter in Puerto Rico. However, the bill also provided funds that would potentially help clinics and hospitals throughout the island.

For months, the Obama administration sought $1.9 billion in Zika funding but the Senate and House sought lesser amounts and failed to reach an agreement.

Wasserman Schultz also called out Scott, a Republican, for his funding decisions.

“Gov. Rick Scott while he seems to be saying out loud he wants Congress and the President to provide more funding he conveniently leaves out he cut nearly $1 million dollars from mosquito control and closed down the state’s mosquito research lab a few years ago,” she said.

In June, the state allocated $26.2 million but as of Friday the state had released $1.9 million. Of that, $316,800 went to Miami-Dade County and $221,635 went to Broward. The money is for prevention and test kits, insect repellent and other mosquito control efforts.

At a press gaggle after the event, Wasserman Schultz was asked about Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments to Politico that he would oppose abortion for a Zika-infected woman.

“Sen Rubio has definitely been an ally and has continually pushed for the president’s emergency supplemental appropriations request and I give him credit for that and I’ve been glad to work with him on that,” she said. “But it's irresponsible to put limitations on how we combat a virus that can result in birth defects -- life-threatening birth defects -- for the babies born to pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus and those decisions should be left between a woman and her doctor and the government should not be interfering in those decisions.”

Rubio is a longtime opponent of abortion rights while Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights.

Wasserman Schultz held her town hall at the SW Focal Point Senior Center where most of the seniors appeared to already be there for their regular mahjong, dominoes or poker game rather than specifically coming to hear Wasserman Schultz speak.

Only two of the 16 locally acquired cases have been in Broward while the rest have been in Miami-Dade. In total, there are 422 cases, most of them acquired while traveling. The list includes 55 women who are pregnant and the most at risk because the virus can cause severe birth defects.

While Zika may not be a top concern among voters in western Broward, it put her in front of a reliable fan base: Democratic voters. She needs those voters now more than ever before because for the first time in more than two decades she faces a Democratic challenger: Tim Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor from Hollywood. The last time the Weston Democrat faced a primary was in 1992 when she ran for the state Legislature. The Democrats are competing for attention in the Aug. 30 primary although many voters are already casting ballots by mail.

Candidates and politicians have used the virus to attack opponents or political parties and have portrayed themselves as fighting to combat the virus. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton visits a clinic in Miami’s Midtown neighborhood.

In recent months, Wasserman Schultz has largely avoided joint appearances with Canova and instead has stuck to events such as the Zika town hall. Last week Wasserman Schultz said she would debate Canova but no specifics have been announced yet.

Photo is from a town hall last week in Sunrise (Sun-Sentinel)

 

 

Tim Canova to file FEC complaint against Debbie Wasserman Schultz

WassermanatclintoneventMH

Tim Canova said he will file a Federal Election Commission complaint today against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz related to the leaked Democratic National Committee emails.

“Wasserman Schultz had a fiduciary duty to the DNC and ultimately to the public to be a fair arbitrator and to separate her obligations as a candidate for federal office from her position as chair of a national committee, ..." states the complaint, according to a Canova press release. "She had a legal obligation to institute a firewall between her campaign and the DNC. Instead, the record establishes that she used her position with the DNC and the resources of the DNC to improperly benefit her congressional campaign.”
 
“The emails establish that on numerous occasions the DNC, under Wasserman Schultz's direction and control, used its resources to track my campaign, interfere with my campaign events and to assist the Wasserman Schultz campaign in her personal communications strategy,” Canova said.

Canova is running against Wasserman Schultz in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary for the Broward/Miami-Dade seat.

Wasserman Schultz stepped down as DNC chair in July after WikiLeaks published more than 19,000 emails. Some emails showed that the DNC was tracking Canova's campaign and media coverage.

In an interview with the Miami Herald editorial board last week, she denied that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Wasserman Schultz's campaign spokesman had no comment because the complaint hasn't been filed yet.

Tim Canova endorsed by Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Canova

Tim Canova has been endorsed by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.

He is running against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, in a district that stretches from western Broward to northern Miami-Dade. Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, lives in Hollywood.

According to the caucus, the endorsement questionnaire covered a wide variety of topics, including charter and voucher school accountability, transportation, gun safety, climate change, and Medicaid expansion.

The primary is Aug. 30th but voting by mail is already underway.

August 06, 2016

DNC emails reveal controversial reputation of South Florida billionaire

@jamesmartinrose

While prominent Democrats from Hillary Clinton on down regularly mock Donald Trump in public, he's not the only wealthy commercial real estate developer to be ridiculed by party operatives.

Stephen Bittel, a Miami Beach businessman who owns and operates more than $1 billion in real estate in South Florida and beyond, isn't the most popular fellow at the Democratic National Committee despite his large donations to the party.

A few of the DNC emails released last month by Wikileaks, which prompted the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman, contain trash-talking about Bittel among folks at top levels of its massive fundraising operation.

Bittel, who is co-chairman of the party's national finance committee, is cited in several emails looking ahead to a May 18 meeting of President Barack Obama with the Coconut Grove resident and a small group of other big donors at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

Two days before the event, DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan and his Mid-Atlantic deputy Alexandra Shapiro were fretting about where to seat Bittel.

"Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn't sit next to POTUS!" Kaplan told Shapiro.

POTUS is the Secret Service code name for President of the United States.

Shapiro quickly responded: "Yes -- Bittel will be sitting in the s-------t corner I can find."

The next day, in another email about seating for the elite fundraiser, Shapiro provided an update to Zach Allen, another DNC regional finance director.

Shapiro zeroed in on Bittel and Henry R. Munoz, a prominent San Antonio architect who is also co-chairman of the DNC national finance committee.

"So Henry and Bittel are both coming to the roundtable (with Obama) as punishment for something I did in a past life," she emailed Allen.

The two operatives mused about seating Bittel next to DNC finance vice chairman Chris Lowe and his wife, comedy writer Bonnie Datt.

"LOL, Chris and Bonnie think Bittel is a character," Allen told Shapiro. "So if you want to go that route, let me know so I can at least forewarn them but they'll be fine and if it makes your life easier, all the better."

In apparent reference to both Bittel and Munoz, Allen added: "I'm sorry you're having to deal with them."

Bittel, chairman of Terranova Corp., is a friend of Wasserman Schultz. He hosted a dinner for her at a Philadelphia restaurant during the Democratic National Convention shortly after she resigned as DNC head.

The Weston lawmaker quit the top Democratic post after some of the emails revealed disparaging comments by DNC aides about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who former Secretary of State Clinton bested to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a separate email exchange, Chadwick Rivard, a top DNC researcher, warned White House aide Bobby Schmuck about another donor with South Florida ties.

Coping the email to a half dozen other DNC operatives, Rivard sent Schmuck a long background description of Palm Beach billionaire George Lindemann Jr., board president of the Bass Museum in Miami Beach who was once an Olympic equestrian hopeful as a highly skilled horse rider.

The biography, part of which came from the Lexis-Nexis database, included Lindemann's 1995 conviction on three counts of wire fraud. That case resulted from a federal probe that found 50 horses had been killed over two decades in acts of insurance fraud.

Lindemann, who has donated to Republican and Democratic politicians, received a 33-month term in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

DNC compliance director Alan Reed, who'd been copied on Rivard's email, rendered his verdict on Lindemann two hours later.

"I vote fail....again," Reed wrote.

To browse the entire Wikileaks trove of 19,252 DNC emails, click here: https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/

    

August 05, 2016

Biden says Wasserman Schultz didn't ask him for bat mitzvah video

@PatriciaMazzei

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned Friday in South Miami with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston -- and brought up, unprompted, the video he filmed to congratulate one of Wasserman Schultz's daughters on her bat mitzvah.

"Admittedly, I’m in love with her daughter," he told reporters outside the Whip 'N Dip Ice Cream Shoppe, as Wasserman Schultz chuckled. "I wanted to go to her bat mitzvah. Couldn’t go so I sent a film. I probably ruined everything."

"No, no, not at all," DWS said, laughing.

The video was reported by Politico after Wasserman Schultz stepped down from her role as Democratic National Committee chairwoman -- as a sign that some Democrats thought the congresswoman was more interested in her own political ambitions than the DNC's.

The Miami Herald asked Wasserman Schultz about the video at an editorial board interview Thursday, without going into specifics about whether she asked for it.

"There was a lot that came out anonymously after you stepped out of the DNC role," a Herald reporter asked. "That suggested that maybe your political ambitions had been put before the party, and that maybe that was a reason -- one of the reasons -- people really wanted you out at that point, and no one came to your defense. I was wondering if you could talk about that -- I mean, the vice president's video for your daughter's bat mitzvah --"

"Which was not true," Wasserman Schultz said.

Pressed by the Herald on Friday to clarify after Biden's comments about the video, Wasserman Schultz said she specifically meant she hadn't asked Biden for the video -- not that the video itself didn't exist.

Biden said Wasserman Schultz didn't request the film.

"She didn't. I give you my word," Biden said. "I was invited -- of course why wouldn’t I? I'm her close friend and I had planned on coming. The president gave me another assignment, so I asked -- which is the reason I asked about the video"

"This is family, guys," he added. "For me, this is family."

Joe Biden, Florida Democrats' validator-in-chief

DWS Biden

@PatriciaMazzei @ByKristenMClark

Vice President Joe Biden swung through Florida on Friday to do one of the things he does best: give a boost to Democrats in need of a a little validation from perhaps the most people-friendly Democrat in the country.

But he couldn’t pass up a chance to also tweak Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I can’t figure out Mr. Trump,” said Biden, who made a forceful case against the New York celebrity developer at last week’s Democratic National Convention. “It’s true that when you’ve never run for public office before, going out there and, you know, getting on the biggest stage in the world, you’re bound to make mistakes. But … some of the things that he does and says sort of defy logic for me.”

The vice president was speaking to reporters outside the South Miami Whip ’N Dip, where he’d stopped for a scoop of white chocolate chip ice cream along with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. They were on their way to a Coconut Grove fundraiser to benefit her re-election campaign. (Wasserman Schultz ordered a Snickers scoop.)

Earlier Friday, Biden had collected checks — and enjoyed a helping of Southern food — with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Tallahassee, as part of the Jupiter congressman’s U.S. Senate campaign.

More here.

Wasserman Schultz still unsure if she'll back medical pot amendment

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@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston drew the ire of Florida progressives -- including major political donor John Morgan -- when she opposed a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana two years ago.

She says she still hasn't made up her mind about whether to support it this year.

"I'm still reviewing the provisions of it," the Democratic congresswoman told the Miami Herald editorial board in a broad interview Thursday.

Morgan, of Orlando, is bankrolling this year's version of the amendment -- expected to pass given the more liberal presidential electorate -- and has threatened to pour money into a political committee aiding Wasserman Schultz's Aug. 30 primary opponent, Tim Canova, who backs legalization for medicinal purposes.

If she opposes the effort again, Morgan told the Herald in an email Friday, "she will be the only elected Democrat in the coutnry to do so."

"It just shows how out of touch she is and bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry."

Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign manager, noted Wasserman Schultz comprises a small number of Floridians undecided on the issue.

"In our most recent poll, Floridians supported passing Amendment 2 by a 77-20 margin," he said. "I was wondering who the 3 percent undecided were and now we know! It's incredible that a member of Congress is undecided on such a popular and widely discussed issue in her state."

Earlier this year, Wasserman Schultz quietly voted in favor of a medical pot provision in Congress.

The 2014 Florida amendment missed the 60-percent threshold to pass by 2.4 percentage points. It will be on the ballot again Nov. 8.