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August 18, 2016

PolitiFact Florida: Tim Canova's Half Flip on Iran nuclear deal


The Iran nuclear deal has been a hot topic in the Democratic primary battle between U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and challenger Tim Canova. The South Florida district is heavily Jewish, and Israel has been skeptical of the deal.

In a mailer, Canova sided with three Jewish members of Congress who voted against the deal.

"In challenging times Israel needs true friends in Congress. When called on to protect Israel, some legislators step up," states the mailer, showing photos of U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel of Palm Beach County and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. "Others don’t. Debbie Wasserman Schultz waffled back and forth before voting for the Iran nuclear deal, choosing party and personal political ambition over principle."

But how would Canova have voted on the deal? His answers haven’t been clear. In adebate on CBS4, host Jim DeFede asked Canova to clarify his position.

We decided to look at Canova’s statements about the Iran deal and put them on our Flip-O-Meter, which examines a candidate’s record on a topic without casting a value judgment on any changes. We found that Canova hasn’t really changed position, but he hasn’t always provided full answers, either.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Republicans slam Patrick Murphy for supporting Iran Deal


The National Republican Senatorial Committee has released a new attack ad against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy -- criticizing him for supporting the Iran Deal and being "just another rubber-stamp for the Obama-Clinton agenda."

Using a dramatic voice-over and background music, the web ad accuses "Democrats like Patrick Murphy" of "failing to keep us safe" from an "out-of-control" Iran.

The ad claims the Iran Deal allows the Middle East country to now have "a path to build a nuclear bomb" and says the U.S. has given them "billions of dollars in the process."

The ad also references a $400 million payment the U.S. made to Iran this year, which Republicans have called a "ransom" payment since it coincided with the release of four Americans held by Iran. (The Obama administration rejects that assertion and says the money was part of an overdue settlement owed to Iran.)

"The video holds Patrick Murphy accountable for recklessly supporting the Obama-Clinton appeasement of the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," the NRSC said in a statement. "Back when he decided to defy the will of the American people, Murphy offered his full support for the Iran nuclear deal."

The NRSC is supporting incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida's Senate race. Polls have Murphy leading in the Democratic field, which is why he's been the Republicans' major target.

In response to the ad, Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen tried to turn the tables, saying: "It's Marco Rubio who will be the rubber stamp for Donald Trump's dangerous national security agenda."

"Marco Rubio is trusting 'con man' Donald Trump with our nation's nuclear codes and rarely attended important classified Intelligence meetings," Slayen said, repeating the Murphy campaign's line of attack against Rubio over his poor attendance in the Senate.

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.

Report: With Rubio 'running strong,' Koch brothers pull back money



A spokesman for the billionaire Koch brothers told The Hill on Wednesday that Charles and David Koch are pulling back on their financial assistance to Marco Rubio's re-election campaign.

The Hill reports the Koch brothers cancelled more than a half million dollars in Florida advertising intended to help the incumbent Republican U.S. senator for the week following the state's Aug. 30 primary.


Because "Rubio is running strong in Florida," Koch network spokesman James Davis told the newspaper.

Read the full story here.

This comes two weeks after the Rothenberg-Gonzales Political Report changed its assessment of Florida's Senate race from "pure toss-up" to leaning in Rubio's favor.

Polls have shown Rubio with a healthy lead in his primary against Carlos Beruff and with an edge over both of the leading Democratic candidates, U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, in general election match-ups.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

Marco Rubio launches new ad, "Daughter"



Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio launched a new ad for his re-election campaign today.

The 30-second spot, called "Daughter," features a Florida mother, Blanquita Trabold, who speaks of how Rubio worked with the Food and Drug Administration to get a cancer drug that helped her daughter, who was battling breast cancer.

"He got me the medication within a week. Thanks to Marco, I had three more months with my daughter. Marco Rubio was there for me when I needed him most," Trabold says in the ad.

The ad will run in select major markets. It's being paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee using coordinated funds with Rubio's campaign.

Rubio says he's raised more than $3M since July 1



Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio's campaign announced today that the U.S. senator has brought in almost $5.5 million since he launched his re-election bid in late June.

That includes about $3.25 million that was raised since July 1 alone, the campaign said.

The campaign reported having $4.6 million in the bank, as of Aug. 10.

Rubio's camp noted that all donations came as a result of "direct contributions," as opposed to money raised through joint fundraising committees.

Today is the deadline for U.S. Senate campaigns in Florida to file their pre-primary campaign finance reports, covering July 1 through Aug. 10. Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 27, campaigns are require to report any contributions in excess of $1,000 within 48 hours.

The primary is Aug. 30, and mail-in and in-person early voting are already underway.

Rubio is the first of the U.S. Senate candidates to release their pre-primary figures.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

Carlos Beruff's very Reagany Day



It was a very Reagany day for Carlos Beruff on Wednesday night.

With just 11 days now until election day, Beruff, who is running for the U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio, was the guest of a Polk County group that is dedicated to the memory of the nation's 40th president. Beruff was a guest speaker at the Ronald Reagan Republican Club of Heritage Pines on the same day he picked up an endorsement from a group called the Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies of Florida, Inc.

"You have met and proven to our organization our criteria of: pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Second Amendment values, and we hope you will continue to work for these principles we hold true as citizens of this great Republic," says a letter from Bill Norton, president of Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies of Florida.

Beruff today heads for the Jacksonville area, where he'll be making his second stop in two weeks to the Republican-rich region. Duval County, which Rubio lost to Donald Trump during the Republican Presidential Primary in March, has the state's 6th highest number of registered Republican voters. 

Tension builds in Clemens-Slosberg battle in Palm Beach

The Democratic primary battle for a Palm Beach County Senate seat has it all: big money, a TV ad war, an overheated rumor mill and the candidacy of Irv "Let Irv Serve" Slosberg.

He's an idiosyncratic House member from Boca Raton doing something you seldom see in Florida: challenging a sitting senator in his own party, Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, in a race where both candidates must learn new territory that they have not represented due to a court-ordered remapping of Senate districts. The winner of the Senate District 31 race on Aug. 30 gets a four-year ticket back to Tallahassee, and if Clemens wins, he would be the Senate Democratic leader in 2018.

Slosberg, 68, a traffic safety and seat-belt champion, did not live in the district when he changed course and declared his candidacy an hour before the June 24 deadline. He has since poured an astonishing $730,000 of his own money into his campaign for a job that pays $29,697 a year. By spending his own money, Slosberg says, "I owe no one any favors." He calls Clemens "a ghost" who's unknown to many district voters.

Clemens, 45, has endorsements from 19 House Democrats and says Slosberg has none -- sufficient proof, he says, that Slosberg won't be able to get anything done in a Senate that is built on collegiality. "He's a one-issue legislator who doesn't have the respect of his colleagues," Clemens says.

Slosberg is a familiar presence on West Palm Beach TV stations and has budgeted about twice as much TV time as Clemens.

The district is dominated by Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Lake Worth and is generally east of Florida's Turnpike. The two major daily newspapers in the district, The Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, both have endorsed Clemens, and the Sun-Sentinel described Slosberg as poorly informed on water quality issues, a topic of growing concern to district voters. "Clemens is the better candidate," the Sun-Sentinel said.

"I'm going to win," Slosberg told the Times/Herald. Clemens acknowledged that an early poll showed him trailing but he too confidently predicted victory in a low-turnout primary. "We feel good," Clemens said.


Patrick Murphy's new digital ad says Rubio 'not strong enough to stand up to Trump'

via @learyreports

Patrick Murphy's campaign is capitalizing on Marco Rubio's "con man" moment this week, launching a digital ad that shows how awkward Rubio's support of Donald Trump has become.

Appearing on Facebook and Twitter, the ad plays off Rubio's Miami Herald editorial board meeting on Monday in which Rubio said he stands by criticism of Trump during the presidential primary but that he supports him as the nominee.

“If somebody’s a con man you do not say in the next sentence, but I’m supporting that con man,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough says in a clip.

It portends a message the Murphy campaign will repeatedly push in an expected general election matchup with Rubio, who has a lead in polls.

Not only does the Democrat want to firmly attach Rubio to Trump, but a broader goal is to show Rubio as an opportunist who will do whatever it takes to get back into office.

"Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a 'con man' who couldn’t be trusted with our country’s nuclear codes, but now that his own political ambition is on the line, he wants to make that ‘con man’ our next commander-in-chief,” said Murphy campaign manager Josh Wolf. “Rubio's Donald dance would be comical if it didn’t involve handing over our country’s national security to an unhinged bigot. In reality, it is Marco Rubio who is attempting to con Floridians by saying whatever it takes to get re-elected to a job he hates so he can run for president again in 2020.”

Rubio on Wednesday previewed his own line of attack on Murphy, calling him “lazy” and “privileged” in a radio interview.

August 17, 2016

Father of state Senate candidate funds attack mailers against his son's opponents



Attack ads are cascading into mailboxes across coastal Miami-Dade in the District 38 state Sen. race--and the financier of the operation is the father of one of the candidates.

State Sen. candidate Jason Pizzo's father, Kenneth Pizzois using a brand new political action committee to attack former Miami Beach commissioner Michael Góngora and former North Miami mayor Kevin Burns

Pizzo funneled $150,000 into the PAC, dubbed A Stronger Florida, on August 5, state records show. The only reported expenditure for the PAC so far is a $101.45 for a check order, but the PAC has been running mailers for weeks.

The PAC was registered on July 25 in Coral Gables and lists its chairperson as Steve Ross and treasurer as Jose Riesco, but Pizzoa New Jersey real estate developer, is the sole contributor to the PAC's coffers.

"I don't have anything to share, I just get the checks," Riesco said.

Kenneth Pizzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jason Pizzo is one of six Democrats running in District 38, a heavily Democratic district that runs from the MacArthur Causeway to the Broward County line. He has loaned $500,000 to his campaign.

Góngora has been the target of three separate mailers, which accuse the candidate of skirting ethics laws and failing to report campaign contributions. A fourth mailer accuses Burns of mismanaging his finances.

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South Florida politicians repeatedly fined for failing to disclose donors on time



State Sen. Dwight Bullard is a busy man. He’s a politician, teacher, newly minted uncle and chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

“In the midst of all the public service I’m attempting to do, there are things that are put on the back burner,” Bullard said.

Filing campaign finance reports on time is one of Bullard’s items on the back burner: He’s been fined seven times, totaling $7,000, for filing campaign finance reports late since declaring his current state Senate candidacy in 2013. It’s possible that more fines will be announced against Bullard in the coming months.

Bullard is the worst offender among Miami-Dade and Broward state Senate and House candidates running for office in 2016, but he is hardly alone: 31 candidates for the Legislature have been fined for missing campaign finance reporting deadlines in this election cycle. The offenders include 24 Democrats, six Republicans and one no-party candidate.

Read more here.