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June 16, 2016

Tim Canova raises $2 million in race against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Broward Congressional race

Tim Canova has raised more than $2 million in his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston.

He has raised $2,054,332.57 since he launched his campaign in January. Canova's campaign said that he raised money from 58,421 individual donors and the average contribution was $17.16.

His campaign did not release information on what percentage of those donations have come from outside of Florida. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of his donations above $200 through March found that the majority were from out of state, however that provides an incomplete picture because most of his donations are below that threshold and therefore the campaign doesn't have to report where the donors live.

Wasserman Schultz raised $1.8 million through March and hasn't announced an update on her fundraising. She has been endorsed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was going to host a fundraiser for her last weekend but it was cancelled due to the Orlando shooting massacre.

Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in the left-leaning District 23 which mostly lies in Broward County and includes part of northern Miami-Dade. The primary is Aug. 30.

Canova, a Hollywood resident, said in a press release: “People all over Florida and all over our district are supporting our campaign for change. They have had enough of a political system that is awash in corporate money and corporate influence. We all have an interest in a decent jobs market, affordable prescription drug prices and health care, educational opportunities, and safe and healthy communities.  Wasserman Schultz’s corporate donors are often standing in the way of progress for all.” 

Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor, got a big boost to his fundraising when Bernie Sanders announced in May that he is supporting Canova. Sanders named Canova to a committee about financial reform in 2011. Sanders has been critical of Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the Democratic National Committee where he says she has favored Hillary Clinton, a charge she has denied. Sanders wants Wasserman Schultz ousted from the DNC. 

The Clinton campaign installed a general election chief of staff of the DNC Thursday: Brandon Davis, who was formerly the political director of the Service Employees International Union. It's common practice for the presumptive party nominee to take the reins at the DNC. Wasserman Schultz welcomed Davis at party headquarters Thursday morning, CNN reported.

This post has been updated to correct the title of Davis.


Plaintiff in Florida gay marriage case 'dismayed' by Pam Bondi's comments on CNN


One of the plaintiffs in Florida’s previous same-sex marriage fight is calling out Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi for her answers to CNN's Anderson Cooper in a now-viral interview that aired live Tuesday.

Christian Ulvert wrote in a letter to Bondi that he was "dismayed by the response you offered to Mr. Cooper regarding your efforts in your relentless fight against the LGBT community."

Bondi had told Cooper she was doing what her job required her to do: "Uphold the Constitution of the state of Florida," she said.

"Instead of following the lead of other attorneys general, you decided to fight the case," wrote Ulvert, who is also a Democratic political consultant in South Florida. "You had the opportunity, as Governor Lawton Chiles once did, in saying the state is on the wrong side of history and unable to defend the discriminatory measure in our constitution. Worse, as the Attorney General of Florida, you declared that gay Floridians like my husband and me posed great harm. Those aren’t my words, those are yours because it was done under your control and supervision. You cannot deflect responsibility to one of your lawyers as you said in the interview."

"I can only believe that your heart is guided by love, but your acts and words show a different voice," Ulvert added, calling on Bondi to now use her position to fight against discrimination of LGBT people going forward.

Bondi said in a statement to the Herald/Times Thursday afternoon: “I know Christian, and I am happy to sit down with him and my legislative team prior to the start of the 2017 legislative session.”

In the wake of Tuesday's interview, a rift between Bondi and Cooper grew Wednesday as the two exchanged responses over the true purpose of the CNN interview.

Read the latest on that here.

Bondi claimed she was supposed to talk about the potential for donation scams after the Orlando shooting, and she said afterward that Cooper "completely flipped" by bringing up her record on LGBT issues. Cooper countered that Bondi was "either mistaken or she’s not telling the truth" about why she was booked for the live interview.

Bondi's office has not responded to a request for comment about Cooper's response to her claims.

Florida House leader Corcoran urges support for vigil after 'unfortunate' pro-gun mailer

via @stevebousquet

CorcoranflyerScan_2016-6-14_0002_8colState Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, the House speaker-designate, is urging his constituents to attend a vigil Thursday in memory of the victims of the Orlando massacre. Sponsored by the city of New Port Richey, the event will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Sims Park. Participants are urged to bring a single flower to place in a wreath.

"We will be standing together as one to show that we will not be defeated but instead grow stronger," Corcoran said in announcing the event.

In the past few days, some of Corcoran's constituents received a different message from him: a re-election campaign mailer that shows pictures of bullets as well as two photos of guns, including one in which Corcoran is holding a firearm.

Corcoran acknowledged the terrible timing of the mailing and said it was sent last Wednesday, June 8, four days before the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The piece, sent to about 3,200 voters identified as past supporters of the Second Amendment, reflects the majority party's opposition to gun restrictions.

In a statement to the Herald/Times, Corcoran said: "The information sent in the mail was created and sent prior to the tragic events in Orlando. The unfortunate timing of a piece of mail, however, should not shift attention from the tragic and heinous attack by a radical Islamic terrorist. No matter how much some want to use this event to divide us, I remain steadfast in my belief that law abiding Americans must have a Second Amendment right to defend themselves and that we must not give in to the politically correct voices of division."


GOP U.S. Senate candidate to Marco Rubio: decide quickly

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis made clearer during a talk radio interview that he has no interest in running for the U.S. Senate if fellow Republican Marco Rubio decides to run for re-election afterall.

DeSantis, a Republican from Ponte Vedra Beach, has been the most prolific fundraiser in the GOP primary battle to replace Rubio, but acknowledge Rubio’s indecision hanging over the race has “made it more difficult for guys like me.”

“Look, Marco’s a good Senator,” DeSantis told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Had he announced from the beginning that he was going to run for reelection, I would not have run. I would have supported him.”

DeSantis, a Navy veteran and attorney, said his only request is for Rubio to make a decision quickly so others in the field can respond.

“And I just think it’s better for everyone if this decision is made sooner rather than later,” DeSantis said.

It was on Hewitt’s show on Monday morning when Rubio said the Orlando mass shooting gave him “pause to think” about how he can serve his country. When Hewitt pressed him to reconsider running for the Senate, Rubio didn’t say no.

Two other Republican candidates in the race say they won’t back out of the race even if Rubio gets back in. Both Orlando businessman and Army veteran Todd Wilcox and Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff have said they intend to keep running.

Here’s the full exchange between Hewitt and DeSantis this morning courtesy of a transcript from the Hugh Hewitt radio show:

Hewitt: Now Congressman, people know I’ve endorsed you for the United States Senate race. It’s an open primary right now. A lot of people are in it. At the same time, two days ago on this program, Senator Rubio indicated he is rethinking that. What’s your reaction to that? What will you do if he enters the race?

DeSantis: Well, I happened to hear about that once you did it. Look, Marco’s a good Senator. Had he announced from the beginning that he was going to run for reelection, I would not have run. I would have supported him. And I don’t know what he’s going to do. I have no inside knowledge at all. And obviously, if he makes a decision to run, that changes a lot about how I look at the race, but I think the important thing is that if there’s a decision made, it should be made quickly, because I think what’s happened is a lot of the rumors over the last several weeks have made it more difficult for guys like me to get, continue on the path of success. And I just think it’s better for everyone if this decision is made sooner rather than later. Even if Marco runs, I mean, he’s going to want to have the opportunity to ramp back up. So I know no more than you, and I’ll wait and see what happens.

Donald Trump's year of falsehoods


One year ago today, Donald Trump descended a gilded escalator into a historic presidential campaign.

We called his announcement speech "a rambling bit of political theater" and fact-checked five statements from his remarks. We rated the claims Mostly False, False,False, False and Pants on Fire.

At the time, Trump’s candidacy was seen by many as a publicity stunt. Today he sits as the presumptive GOP nominee.

What hasn’t changed is that Trump continues to make inaccurate statements, and we have spent the past year trying to keep up.

We’ve fact-checked Trump about 160 times. We have rated 76 percent of those statements Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire. (See his entire PolitiFact file, which updates as we post new fact-checks.) As we noted when we awarded Trump our 2015 Lie of the Year award for his portfolio of misstatements, no other politician has as many statements rated so far down the dial. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Here are 10 of the most significant falsehoods that Trump has made during the past year from PolitiFact.

Obama's somber trip to Orlando underscored by tension with Gov. Scott

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Yet again making the all-too-familiar trip to console and grieve with victims of a mass shooting in an American community, President Barack Obama will travel to Orlando on Thursday.

The trek has become a sadly frequent one for Obama, whose presidency has coincided with other high-profile mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., Charleston, S.C., and Newtown, Conn.

But Sunday’s slaying of 49 people at a gay nightclub holds special significance as the worst of them all — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

While in Orlando, Obama will visit with families of the dead and the 53 people who were injured. The president also plans to meet with surgeons, doctors and nurses who treated the wounded, and law enforcement officials and first-responders who were on the scene in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Specific details on the visit haven’t been released. But Obama is expected to also attend a prayer vigil at the Amway Center, Orlando officials told the Herald/Times.

Obama wants to offer “comfort and support to a community that’s grieving,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday, adding that he expects it will be “an emotional trip” for the president.

While the visit will be a somber one, it will also be underscored by some recent political tension between Obama and Republican Gov. Rick Scott — despite other public displays of bipartisanship in a time of tragedy.

Read more here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot / Miami Herald

June 15, 2016

Anderson Cooper: Pam Bondi 'either mistaken or not telling the truth' about CNN interview



Hold the phone, Pam Bondi.

In Act 3 of a two-day saga, CNN host Anderson Cooper says Florida's Republican attorney general is "either mistaken or she's not telling the truth" about the pretenses of her now-viral interview with him Tuesday afternoon.

Cooper had questioned the 'sick irony' of Bondi talking about her support for the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando shooting massacre, when she previously had fought for years efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Florida.

On Wednesday morning, Bondi responded to the interview by going on a New York talk radio show -- the host of which, Todd Schnitt, called Bondi his "long-time friend." Bondi and the radio hosts criticized Cooper for interviewing her under false pretenses.

She said "the interview was supposed to be about helping victims families" by educating the public about potential donation scams and Tuesday wasn't "the time nor the place" to discuss a "constitutional issue."

But on "AC 360" Wednesday night, Cooper said Bondi's preferred topic actually wasn't the purpose of the interview at all.

He said, before they went on air, he asked Bondi -- as he does all his guests -- what she'd like to talk about. He chose to lead the interview with that, but then he said he wanted to hold her accountable for the contradiction between her past and present comments about LGBT people.

"Let's be real here," Cooper said, "Ms. Bondi's big complaint seems to be that I asked in the first place, in the wake of a massacre that targeted gay and lesbian citizens, about her new statements about the gay community and about her old ones."

He added: "It's my job to hold people accountable. And if on Sunday, a politician's talking about love and embracing 'our LGBT community,' I don't think it's unfair to look at their record and see if they have actually ever spoken that way publicly before -- which I've never heard her say."

Watch Cooper's full response to Bondi here:

The full-length version of her original CNN interview -- which Cooper refers to and which Bondi had complained wasn't posted online -- is available here:

Here, again, was Bondi's response to Cooper on the radio show Wednesday morning:

Patrick Murphy: 'You bet' I'm ready to take on Marco Rubio if he runs


Patrickmurphy01wmmWith it looking ever-more likely that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will change his mind and seek re-election, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says he's ready for the challenge -- and he's pre-emptively going on the offensive against his potential opponent.

Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday evening, Murphy said: "This isn't about Senator Rubio. It is about the people of Florida, about making sure they have someone who's going to fight for them, that's not going to miss a historic amount of votes in committees or vote against this terrorist loophole that I think is largely responsible for what just happened the other day."

"It sounds like if he reconsiders and decides to seek re-election, you're ready to battle?" Blitzer asked.

"You bet," replied Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter.

Murphy noted to Blitzer that he "announced against Senator Rubio a year ago, a year and a half ago when he was still in this race."

While it's true Rubio was still unofficially on track to seek re-election when Murphy declared his Senate candidacy on March 23, 2015, it was largely expected by that point that Rubio would dive into the presidential race -- leaving a rare open U.S. Senate seat for Florida.

Rubio did just that three weeks later on April 13, 2015. (He ended his presidential bid in mid-March after a dismal showing in the Florida primary.)

By comparison, Democrat Pam Keith -- who was the first of the major party contenders to enter the 2016 U.S. Senate race -- declared her challenge to Rubio in mid-November 2014. The other Democratic primary contender, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, announced his campaign in early July 2015.

Grayson's campaign also spoke out Wednesday evening about the rumors circulating around Rubio. He, too, was on the attack.

"The establishment's push to get a feckless Marco Rubio into this race will merely serve up another NRA-backed Republican who's hostile to gay rights and wants Donald Trump to be president," Grayson campaign spokeswoman Brooke Hines said in a statement. "Trump's brand of bigotry, like Rubio's outdated politics, no longer fit in Florida."

Murphy, Grayson and Keith will face off in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Blitzer invited Murphy on CNN primarily to discuss local, state and federal authorities' ongoing investigation into the Orlando shooting. (More on that here.)

Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald


More police collaboration could have meant 'different outcome' in Orlando, Rep. Murphy says


Joining the bevy of Florida politicians making the rounds on cable news this week, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy got nine minutes of airtime with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday evening to talk about the Orlando shooting investigation, as well as his bid for U.S. Senate.

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, represents the district where the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen lived. Murphy is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which has been briefed on Sunday's attack and the ongoing investigation into it.

"Every day, (the committee is) learning more and more about this," Murphy said.

"In this era of lone-wolf attacks," Murphy said the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub -- which left 50 dead (including Mateen) and 53 injured -- highlights the need for better collaboration and coordination between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

"I believe there's stuff out there that local law enforcement might have had that, if combined with what the federal government had and the FBI during these investigations -- we might have had a different outcome," Murphy said. "The investigation is going to let us know what happened, and I don't want to point a finger yet -- but it is more important than ever that law enforcement work together."

He added: "It seems that all the pieces weren't connected in this situation. ... But there seems to be enough pieces of information here that perhaps (Mateen) should have been monitored, perhaps we should have kept an eye on him a little bit closer."

Blitzer probed Murphy for more details on the pending investigation, including the potential for Mateen's wife, Noor, to be charged as an accomplice and whether he thought she should be.

There was a lot Murphy said he "couldn't speak to" because of the investigation, but he did say: "It sure seems that she had enough information at this point that she should have certainly said something and (she) awfully seems like an accomplice to me."

On whether authorities will release the 911 tapes from Sunday morning -- which a coalition of media, including the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, is urging law enforcement to do under Florida’s Sunshine Law -- Murphy said: “At a certain point, most of those things usually do come out but I haven’t heard one way or the other. … We’ve heard just high-level information about them, nothing more actually.”

State sets aside funding to pay for police overtime and grief counseling after Orlando shootings

The state is hoping to set aside more than $3 million to help handle law enforcement overtime and crisis counseling in the aftermath of the terror attack in Orlando, Gov. Rick Scott announced on Wednesday.

Already the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has reserved $520,000 of grant money to help Orlando and Orange County pay for overtime pay for officers and equipment associated with Pulse nightclub shootings on Sunday. FDLE is also seeking $2 million in emergency funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to help with the costs.

"FDLE members statewide are working hard to support local law enforcement following the Pulse night club shooting," FDLE commissioner Rick Swearingen said.

In addition, the Florida Department of Childen and Families is sending $500,000 to help local providers with grief counseling, trauma support and emotional support for victims and their families.