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Tim Canova files FEC complaint against Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Tim Canova has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, asserting she illegally utilized the resources with the Democratic National Committee to undermine his campaign. Canova says the DNC emails were released last month by WikiLeaks — which forced Wasserman Schultz to step down from her role as chair of the DNC — reveal she was working to stop his campaign.

Canova is challenging Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

“The FEC now has the authority to conduct an investigation of Wasserman Schultz’s use of DNC resources for her Congressional campaign,” Canova says in a statement. “The emails alone establish a pattern of wholly improper conduct on the part of Wasserman Schultz and clear violations of federal elections and campaign finance laws.” Canova goes on to say, “She repeatedly used her position as DNC chair for unfair advantage for her congressional campaign. She sought to use DNC resources to appropriate party fundraising opportunities for herself. And she abused her authority by bullying the media to stifle negative reporting on her divisive conduct at the DNC and to encourage positive reporting on her congressional campaign. Wasserman Schultz’s conduct while head of the DNC reflects poorly on her judgment and character, and has unfortunately brought shame and disgrace to our district here in South Florida.”

Canova has become a national figure among progressives for his attempt to defeat Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties who has had a national platform since being selected to chair the DNC back in 2011. Some of her moves over the past year as DNC chair alienated supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator who provided a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. At the Democratic convention last month, Sanders endorsed Clinton in her race against Donald Trump.

According to the statement Canova issued Monday, the complaint charges that, “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.” Additionally, the complaint states, “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,” said Canova.

The complaint further alleges “The DNC paid a team of national, senior communications and political professionals significant sums of money for their consulting services and the Wasserman Schultz for Congress Campaign utilized these services free of charge.”

The Miami New Times reported last month that simply by searching Canova’s last name in WikiLeaks’ file turns up 80 messages, though many emails stemmed from the same chain. DNC staffers repeatedly flagged positive news about the Canova campaign and shared it among themselves.

A poll released last week by the Canova camp shows he trails Wasserman Schultz by eight percentage points in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

FloridaPolitics has reached out to the Wasserman Schultz camp for comment, and we’ll update this post once we receive that.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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