Wasserman Schultz Re-Election Bid Fueled By Half-Million-Dollar Investment From Super PAC with Ties to Sugar, Fossil Fuel Industries

Hollywood, FL –  Only weeks after she was forced to resign as chair of the Democratic National Committee, incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz enlisted the help of her powerful friends in Florida’s sugar industry and that of a hedge-fund manager with extensive ties to the fossil fuels industry.

Patriot Majority PAC, a Washington D.C. based Super PAC, is slated to spend over half a million dollars in broadcast and direct mail supporting her reelection bid.  According to its latest filing, Patriot Majority PAC received $250,000 dollars in funding from Donald Sussman, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Paloma Partners. Paloma Partners is a hedge fund with over $100 million dollars in energy and fossil fuel investments.  If one takes into account further interests in associated industries like plastics, Paloma Partners may have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in industries with crucial stakes in fossil fuels.

Not surprisingly, during last week’s debate between Wasserman Schultz and her Democratic primary opponent, Tim Canova, the incumbent revealed she is open to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract fossil fuels in Florida.  Fracking has been tied to extensive ecological impacts in other states, including water contamination, pollution and the possible triggering of earthquakes. This comes on the heels of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s administration adopting rules to permit higher levels of toxins in our water, including many of the same toxins used in the fracking process.

Patriot Majority PAC also received $25,000 in funding from Florida Crystals, a privately held company that is part of FLO-SUN, the sugar conglomerate owned by the Fanjul brothers and one of the main sugar producers in Florida.  The sugar industry has come under criticism for their role in the toxic blue-green algae blooms that have afflicted numerous lakes, rivers and beaches in southern Florida.  The industry has also impeded efforts to restore the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades, thereby renewing the aquifer for South Florida.  Wasserman Schultz has voted time and again for hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for these sugar companies.

“This Super PAC’s activities on behalf of my opponent are a prime example of what is wrong with our campaign financing system,” said FL-23 Congressional candidate Tim Canova.  “Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been able to call upon her allies in Big Sugar and the fossil fuels industry to come to her aid in this race, but we know we are primed for victory because we are supported and funded by everyday Americans, not corporate interests.  Wasserman Schultz can say she’s against Citizen’s United and that she’s an environmental champion.  But it’s just another example of her saying one thing and doing another.”

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Canova Successfully Promotes His Vision, Makes Compelling Case Against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in First Primary Debate

Hollywood, FL – In a one-hour debate broadcast this morning over WFOR CBS 4 and moderated by Jim DeFede, Democratic Congressional candidate Tim Canova successfully laid out his optimistic, progressive vision for District 23 while contrasting it with incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s track record of failed leadership in Washington.

Many issues of crucial importance were touched upon during the encounter.  When questioned about the Democratic National Committee email scandal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who served as DNC Chairwoman until her forced resignation less than a month ago, once again attempted to parry and deflect.  She failed to satisfactorily account for the DNC staff’s behavior under her leadership, which included attempting to tip the scales in favor of one presidential candidate versus the other and using party resources and time to monitor and strategize against her primary opponent.

On Social Security, Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried unsuccessfully to portray herself as engaged, active and supportive of struggling seniors and the disabled.  She repeated her disingenuous assertion that she is not dragging her feet on a host of Social Security enhancement initiatives currently in the House of Representatives when, in fact, of the seven bills she touts as showing her commitment to the issue, five were co-sponsored by her in recent months and only after drawing a primary challenger in our district.

Tim Canova successfully confronted Wasserman Schultz on the issue of campaign contributions.  Whereas his campaign is entirely funded by small contributions from everyday Americans, her campaign and PACs have been predominantly funded by large contributions coming from the very wealthy as well as corporate interests like payday lenders, the sugar industry, Wall Street and promoters of free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would ship American jobs overseas.

Tim Canova also talked about how we must protect our environment from greedy corporations who want to ravage our natural resources for profit, while Debbie Wasserman Schultz endorsed fracking in South Florida.

Canova also restated his resolute support for Amendment 2, a measure that would legalize the medical use of cannabis in the State of Florida.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to vacillate and equivocate.  She opposed Amendment 2 in 2014, and still will not definitively support this constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot in Florida in November.

“After months of trying I was pleased to have finally gotten this first opportunity to discuss the issues face to face with my primary opponent,” said Canova.  “I hope this debate is the first of many we will have over the next two weeks in order to give the residents of District 23 every opportunity to compare our positions and make the best choice for this seat.”

Tim Canova has already accepted multiple additional debate offers, including from AmericaTeve, a leading Hispanic television outlet in South Florida, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a leading civil rights organization first presided by Dr. Martin Luther King.

“I hope she will accept to do additional debates in general, but in particular those focused on issues of special importance to both the Hispanic and African-American communities,” Canova said.  “As wide-ranging as today’s debate was, I believe there is still much more to discuss, and we owe it to these groups to have debates that zero in on the issues that are of greatest relevance and concern to them.”

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Dems Unveil Push to Secure State Voting Systems

A group of Democratic senators is introducing a bill aimed at securing U.S. elections from hacking efforts, the latest response to attempted Russian interference in the 2016 presidential vote.

The bill introduced Tuesday is specifically designed to ensure the integrity of and bolster confidence in the federal vote count.

It would require state and local governments to take two steps to ensure that votes are counted correctly. Under the legislation, states would have to use voting systems that use voter-verified paper ballots that could be audited in the event a result is called into question.

State and local officials would also be required to implement what are known as “risk-limiting audits” — a method that verifies election outcomes by comparing a random sample of paper ballots with their corresponding digital versions — for all federal elections.

Both steps have been endorsed by cybersecurity professionals as a way to ensure confidence in the vote count. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has also recommended that states transition to voting systems that generate paper backups that can be audited.

“Congress must act immediately to protect our democracy from cyberattacks. Any failure to secure our elections amounts to disenfranchising American voters,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

“For Americans to have confidence that their votes count, and that election results are free and fair, there absolutely have to be paper ballots and mandatory audits for each and every federal election,” Wyden said.

Currently, five states use paperless voting machines that do not produce a paper backup, and many more have mixed voting infrastructure with some localities using paperless systems. Twenty-two states do not legally require post-election audits.

Revelations of Russian meddling have triggered fears about the possibility of future interference efforts that could cast doubt on the outcome of U.S. elections.

The Department of Homeland Security revealed last year that Russian hackers targeted election-related digital systems, such as voter registration databases and websites, in 21 states as part of a broader plot to interfere in the 2016 vote. In a small number of cases, hackers succeeded in breaking into systems.

Officials maintain that none of the targeted systems were involved in actual vote counting, and that there is no evidence any votes were changed.

Some security experts say it would be difficult to wage a hacking campaign against voting machines, which are not connected to the internet and are typically stored in secure facilities. Experts say it’s unlikely that hackers could actually have a material impact on the vote. Others, however, are more skeptical of the security of voting systems.

“Why would we give foreign adversaries the opportunity to hack into our voting systems when we have better, more secure alternatives?” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said Tuesday. He added that the legislation represents a “critical step toward protecting one of our nation’s most precious assets: the integrity of our democracy.”

There have been other attempts in Congress to address election security at the state level. A bipartisan group of senators is currently trying to attach election security legislation to a must-pass defense policy bill moving through the upper chamber.

And Congress already sent $380 million to states to upgrade old voting equipment and shore up cybersecurity as part of a massive funding package approved in March.

The bill introduced Tuesday is sponsored by Sens. Wyden, Merkley, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).