Debbie Wasserman Schultz – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: Insurance for your digital mouth

You can get a cyber insurance policy to protect your organization if hit with ransomware or cyber security threat.

This can help recoup lost dollars, data, productivity and any other repercussions from a cyber intrusion/breach. There may be more fallout once the damage is assessed, firings (see Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her never-ending journey down the cyber rabbit hole) new policies put into place and other measures to prevent a future incident.

But what happens when someone sues you over a tweet? Does this happen? Yes.

As our world evolves, being held liable for what’s said on the web is becoming more common. It is certainly worth noting the fact that internet ranters and trolls may be silent in the real world, but on the digital platform, that’s where it gets ugly.

Someone may have a complete online meltdown online and cross a line — maybe Sally or Sammy Respectful during the day, but at night behind their Twitter handle of @HELLFIREMEDIA they might be putting you at risk (if they work on your staff, team etc.).

Being mouthy online can come with baggage. If you are also affluent, that makes you a bona fide target.

Let’s think about rocker Courtney Love who owns the publishing rights to the Nirvana catalog (inherited from her deceased husband Kurt Cobain). Rich and mouthy, affirmative.

Raise your hand if your rich and mouthy.

Love has been a party in three defamation suits, coming from irresponsible Twitter use, one settled for only $780,000.

Ack.

So, today’s advice (free of charge), be very careful what you send out to the cyber-verse, specifically if it paints someone else in a negative light.

While it appears most online libel suits are rarely successful — as proving malicious intent is difficult — even weak cases that don’t see the light of day involve legal fees.

Large insurance providers offer personal injury umbrellas, which usually include libel coverage. It is certainly something to consider, as once something that once only concerned journalists now is something that anyone with a social media account should be aware.

The President had a case land on his desk. You can read more about here.

I am not picking sides here — Debbie, Donald or Courtney. They all could use a lesson in manners from my grandmother (rest in peace, Nana). Name calling did not sit well with her (with a few exceptions, of course; she yelled at my grandfather a lot. All in good fun, I think). #DifferentTimes.

Check out some added insurance if you or your staff push the envelope on social media; as a public service reminder, remember to be kind to one another online and in person.

The world could use it.

THE END

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Congressional aide probe includes workers in six Florida Democrats’ offices

Arrested Democratic congressional staffer Imran Awan or his relatives — all reportedly under federal criminal investigation — also worked for five other Democratic Florida members of Congress besides U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is on the hot seat.

U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Darren Soto of Orlando, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, now a gubernatorial candidate, also employed Awan or one of his family members, wife Hina Alvi, and brothers Jamal Awan and Abid Awan, as part-time, shared, information technology employees in their offices.

However, unlike Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, who kept Imran Awan on her payroll through months of publicly-reported federal investigations into potential theft and misuse of congressional equipment and data, the other five members of Florida’s delegation all cut their ties with the Awan family member employees early.

The FBI and U.S. Capitol Police arrested Imran Awan at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on July 24, as he reportedly was trying to leave the country. He was charged with bank fraud, and other charges may be pending. Last week he and Alvi were indicted on bank fraud and other charges.

Neither of Imran Awan’s brothers have been arrested or accused of anything, though media reports dating to early February indicated that the FBI was investigating all four members of the Awan family.

They all worked for numerous Democratic members of the U.S. House, some for more than a decade, as IT specialists. House members chose independently to hire or fire them, and they were paid from office staff payroll budgets.

In early February, U.S. House of Representatives leaders informed members of Congress that the Awans were under investigation. News of that broke in Washington a couple of days later. Murphy, Soto, Frankel, and Wilson all terminated the Awans in their offices on Feb. 2 or Feb. 3, according to House of Representatives office budget disbursement documents. Graham already had terminated Jamal Awan on Jan. 2.

Still, some published reports, notably in The Daily Caller, which has broken much of the Awan story, have suggested the Awans had legal and financial troubles long before February, dating to 2009, which some have argued should have sent up red flags to Democratic members employing them.

Wasserman Schultz, who fired Imran Awan on July 25, has said she had serious questions about how and why the investigation was being pursued, and did not want to dismiss him unless she saw evidence of wrongdoing.

Other Democratic members took a different approach. Response from Soto’s spokesman was typical:

“Abid Awan served as an IT system administrator in Congressman Darren Soto’s office for one month. He was immediately fired upon learning he was under investigation, lost access to the House system and could no longer perform his job duties,” Oriana Pina said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com. “Abid was hired based on the recommendation of several other House offices for whom he worked.”

Records show Soto paid the least amount to Abid Awan, $103 this year.

“Mr. Abid Awan was hired by a number of other offices and at the suggestion of other offices,” Murphy’s spokesman Javier Hernandez said. “He was terminated as soon as we were informed of the allegations.”

Murphy had paid Abid Awan $1,033 this year.

“We were one of 20-plus member offices that were using the services of Abid Awan to provide technical support for our computing technology,” Frankel’s spokeswoman Rachel Huxley-Cohen said in a statement. “Our contract with him has been terminated.”

Frankel paid Abid Awan $1,833 in 2017.

“Imran Awan, our former IT administrator, was a shared employee who began working for the congresswoman at the start of her first term. He was terminated as soon as we learned about the allegations of wrongdoing,” Wilson’s spokeswoman Joyce Jones said in a statement. “His official termination date was February 2, 2017. We cannot discuss the details of an ongoing investigation.”

Wilson paid Imran Awan $1,778 this year.

Graham’s spokesman, Matt Harringer, said Jamal Awan’s services were used only to close out Graham’s congressional computer accounts in the first two days of January as she prepared to leave Congress at the end of her tenure. The Awan investigation was not revealed until about a month later.

Graham paid Jamal Awan $111 this year.

Wasserman Schultz has remained defensive of Imran Awan. House records only are available through March 31. Through then, Wasserman Schultz had paid Imran Awan $1,605 this year. She also had employed Nina Alvi, but only through March 7, according to the first quarter House disbursement records. Alvi was paid $3,394.

Wasserman Schultz first employed Imran Awan in her office in 2005. Last week she issued a lengthy statement defending her decision to keep him on until the arrest:

“As a mother, a Jew, and a member of Congress, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s this: my commitment to doing what’s right and just — even if it isn’t what’s easy and simple — is unyielding.

“Whether that meant standing in opposition to the Terri Schiavo bill, combating prejudice by encouraging my colleagues to bring Muslim-American constituents to the State of the Union, or questioning whether an employee has been afforded due process before terminating him, I have never been afraid to stand alone when justice demands it.

“Undoubtedly, the easier path would have been to terminate Mr. Awan, despite the fact that I had not received any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing; but that is not the woman my constituents elected, and that is not the mother my children know me to be.

“Over time, the investigation raised troubling concerns for me about fair treatment, due process, and potential ethnic and religious profiling. As the representative of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, one of the most vibrant and diverse districts in the nation, I may not always be the darling of the conservative media, but I will always protect the democratic and pluralistic values that we South Floridians hold so dear, and I will always live up to the oath I took when my constituents first sent me to Washington: to support and defend the Constitution.

“At the end of the day, there are times in our lives when we must do what may be hard but right, even when there is a cost. This was one of those times for me, and I would make the same decision again.”

Republicans target Debbie Wasserman Schultz in aide scandal ad

Congressional Republicans have released an internet video ad blasting Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her employment of and defense of an aide at the heart of a scandal in Washington D.C.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is circulating a 43-second spot dubbed “Corrupt” that says she waited until Democratic congressional information technology aide Imran Awan was arrested in late July to fire him, even though other members of Congress cut him and other suspects loose months earlier. The spot also alleges she did so reluctantly while contending he was the target of Islamophobia.

Awan reportedly was arrested while trying to leave the country and was charged with bank fraud. He and several other members of his family, two brothers and his wife, all Democratic congressional aides, have all reportedly been under federal investigation since at least early in 2017, a probe that became public in February. There have not been other arrests or other charges.

“Scandals, lies and corruption, that’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” the NRCC ad concludes.

Wasserman Schultz fired Awan from her staff on July 25, the day after he was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

In a statement released by her office prior to the NRCC ad, Wasserman Schultz said, in part, “As a mother, a Jew, and a member of Congress, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s this: my commitment to doing what’s right and just – even if it isn’t what’s easy and simple – is unyielding.

“Undoubtedly, the easier path would have been to terminate Mr. Awan, despite the fact that I had not received any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing; but that is not the woman my constituents elected, and that is not the mother my children know me to be.

She said that the investigation, as she watched reports, raised troubling concerns about fair treatment, due process and “potential ethnic and religious profiling.”

“At the end of the day, there are times in our lives when we must do what may be hard but right, even when there is a cost,” she concluded. “This was one of those times for me and I would make the same decision again.”

 

Chris Latvala says the moderate in the GOP race for Florida governor is not his dad

Chris Latvala predicts that the race for governor will be a campaign unlike any ever seen before in the Sunshine State, especially within the Republican Party.

The Clearwater Republican, first elected to the state House in 2014, has a unique view of the race, considering that his father, Jack Latvala, is now seeking to occupy the Governor’s mansion

Jack Latvala officially filed to run on Friday, but he will be making three appearances around the state Wednesday to give his campaign a proper introduction to the public and the media.  A press conference is set for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at 1 p.m.

“I think that it’s something that he has thought about for a long time,” Chris Latvala said on Tuesday, specifically saying it was sometime last summer that his father talked to him about his desire to run for governor. “I certainly was surprised, but as time has gone by, I think that there’s definitely a path for him, especially with Adam Putnam announcing and then a week or two later changing his campaign manager.”

Immediately after Putnam ended a 10-day bus tour of the state to launch his campaign in March, his campaign manager, Kristin Davison, was relieved of her duties, as was political director Jared Small.

If anyone follows Chris Latvala on Twitter, you know that he has taken several shots at the presumptive front-runner for the GOP nomination. And he’s even more relentless in picking apart the Bartow Republican in an interview.

“Adam Putnam has not exactly set the world on fire,” Latvala says, declaring the race for the GOP nomination to be “wide open.”

With his entrance into the race, Jack Latvala and Putnam are now the two biggest Republicans in the race for governor, although House Speaker Richard Corcoran is also expected to enter the race and rumors continue to circulate that Ponte Vedra Beach Representative Ron DeSantis will also enter the contest.

Considered a moderate in today’s Florida Republican Party, conventional wisdom has it that his opponents will wrap the “M” word around Jack Latvala throughout the primary campaign, but Chris says the moderate in the race is not who you think it is.

“I think that, to the contrary, he’s a conservative who has a conservative record,” Latvala says of his father. “Keeping your promises to the people doesn’t make you a moderate, being mindful of the environment doesn’t make you a moderate.”

Fueling his argument is a litany of congressional votes that he says makes Putnam vulnerable in a GOP primary, such as voting to increase the national debt, supporting the “Cash for Clunkers” program, and pushing for “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

“Conservatives believe in less government and, therefore, I would argue government shouldn’t be involved in your bedroom or your day to day life,” Chris says.

No one will ever call Jack Latvala “slick.” Chris Latvala says that’s part of the longtime state legislator’s appeal to voters.

“He’s not a typical politician,” he says. “He’s not going to be the skinniest and the best looking candidate, and he’s not going to sugarcoat the issues with voters. I think people respect that.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls for special session to replace Confederate statue

(UPDATED) South Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants the Florida Legislature to convene for a special session to deal with a Confederate monument that represents the state in the U.S. Capitol.

A bronze statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith continues to sit in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, despite legislation passed during the 2016 Legislative Session that approved removing it.

“While the events in Charlottesville represent our nation’s original sin, we know these hateful acts do not define who we are as a country. We must denounce white supremacy and domestic terrorism and stand up for love and compassion – not just with our words, but with our deeds,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

Momentum to remove Smith from the congressional collection began in 2015 shortly after the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from its statehouse grounds. That seminal event took place after Dylann Roof went on a shooting spree in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black men and women. Roof had posed with a Confederate flag in photos.

Two competing bills regarding a statue that would have taken the place of Smith died in this year’s Legislative Session. One called for a likeness of educator and civil-rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune, while another proposed a statue of environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “The Everglades: River of GrassNeither passed.

“Next year, we expect movement in the House and we’ll pass it in the Senate,” said state Sen. Perry Thurston, who sponsored the Bethune measure. “I am encouraged we will get it done next year.”

Each state has two statues on display in the Capitol. Florida’s other statue, a marble rendering of scientist-inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, a pivotal figure in the invention of air conditioning, is unaffected.

Wasserman Schultz says that leaving Smith’s statue in a place of honor “symbolizes a painful, disgraceful legacy.”

“It’s time to stop playing games,” she said on Tuesday. “No family visiting our nation’s Capitol should have to explain to their child that the statue representing our state honors someone who fought for a philosophy built on hatred and oppression.”

Wasserman Schultz says Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature must take immediate action by calling a one-day special session during their upcoming interim committee meetings to pass a bill with one of the three recommendations from the committee established by law: Douglas, Bethune or George Washington Jenkins, a philanthropist and the founder of Publix Super Markets.

“These three Floridians represent the best of the history of our state,” she said. “The removal of the Confederate statue must be made an urgent priority.”

“Like most politicians in Washington, the congresswoman is out of touch,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “We’ve already made this decision and are now having a conversation about which great Floridian we should honor. The congresswoman should stop grandstanding and focus on balancing the Federal budget.”

Senate President Joe Negron did not respond to a request for comment.

Ethics group wants Debbie Wasserman Schultz investigated over IT staffer

A right-leaning watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz because she continued to employ an IT staffer after he became the subject of a criminal investigation.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust on Monday asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to launch an investigation into “Wasserman Schultz’s apparent breach of House Ethics Rules.” According to the conservative ethics organization, Wasserman Schultz violated ethics rules by continuing to employ Imran Awan even after he was blocked from using the House IT system.

“There is something quite amiss as to why Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to use taxpayer funds to employ former technology staff member, Imran Awan, even months after he was barred from accessing the House’s computer systems and a number of her colleagues severed ties with Awan,” said Matthew Whitaker, the organization’s executive director, in a statement.

Wasserman Schultz fired Awan last week after he was arrested on one count of bank fraud while attempting to leave the United States for Pakistan, POLITICO reported. Awan and several family members, who also previously served as House staffers, have been at the center of a months-long House investigation.

The complaint says that since Awan was barred from accessing House computer system, he would have been prevented from “performing any reasonable IT work.”

“It appears that Representative Wasserman Schultz permitted an employee to remain on the House payroll in violation of House Ethics rules,” wrote Whitaker in the complaint. “After Awan was barred from accessing the House computer system, Wasserman Schultz continued to pay Awan with taxpayer funds for IT consulting — a position that he could not reasonably perform.”

David Damron, a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, told POLITICO, the complaint was baseless and meant to undermine Wasserman Schultz.

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz fires IT staffer following fraud arrest

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has fired an information technology staffer following his arrest on a bank fraud charge at a Virginia airport where he was attempting to fly to Pakistan.

Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron says Imran Awan was fired by the Florida lawmaker on Tuesday.

Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, confirmed that his client was arrested at Dulles Airport on Monday. He says Awan was cleared to travel and had informed the House of his plans to visit his family before the scheduled trip.

The 37-year-old Awan of Lorton, Virginia, was arraigned Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on one count of bank fraud. He pleaded not guilty and was released pursuant to a high-intensity supervision program, including the restriction that he not travel beyond a 50-mile radius of his home, according to the court.

An affidavit filed with the criminal complaint states there is probable cause to believe that Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, engaged in a scheme to defraud Congressional Federal Credit Union based on misrepresentations made to obtain a loan. FBI Special Agent Brandon Merriman said in the affidavit that the misrepresentations revolved around written assurances that the home serving as collateral for the loan was a “principal residence.”

Merriman said that the credit union normally does not provide home equity lines of credit when the home used to secure the loan is a rental. That’s because they are riskier forms of collateral. The investigation, which included physical surveillance and interviews, determined that the couple did not reside at the property used to secure the loan.

The agent also attested that bank records show $283,000 was wired to two individuals in Pakistan. He stated that agents followed Alvi in March to Dulles International Airport and that she was allowed to board a flight. She has not returned. She has a return flight for September 2017, but the agent said that he believes Alvi has no intention of returning to the United States.

The FBI agent also stated Awan purchased a flight to Doha, Qatar, and then to Lahore, Pakistan. He purchased a return flight for a date in January 2018.

Gowen says the federal bank fraud count stems from a “modest real estate matter” and is motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry. He said he’s confident Awan “will soon be able to clear his name and get on with his life.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21, according to Gowen.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Blake Dowling: The almighty email

Ray Tomlinson invented email in 1972. Tomlinson was an ARPANET contractor and picked the @ symbol to reference digital communications between computers.

Since then, things have changed — just a wee bit.

In a perfect world, organizations use email to share quick bursts of info with clients, colleagues, constituents, etc.

But, in the real world, people send massive files, keep enormous inboxes, all while sending the most confidential voter, medical and financial info. Designed as a communicative tool for nonsensitive info, people are now using email as the send-all-be-all of their organizations.

If you don’t archive your emails and use a file structure (outside of your inbox) think about giving that some time. Digital organization is greatness.

Over the years, I’ve come across a few situations where people have emailed me some very sensitive info by mistake.

So, as a best practices rule-of-thumb, if you can’t say it aloud, don’t email it.

One client was considering an alternative to our company and sent our proposal to a competitor, asking the other company to break down our proposal and beat our price. They accidentally cc’ed me.

In my eyes, their brand is forever tarnished. An hour later, when I received a request to ignore the previous email, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was like a court order to “strike that comment from the record” — the cat is already out of the bag, and said cat holds a major grudge.

Recently, my wife was trying to get her air conditioning fixed at a local car shop; they were refusing to honor the warranty.

They then sent this gem to 6 internal staff, cc’ing me by mistake. There was nothing up, no one even looked at the car beside them. Now, whenever I think of auto repair, I see them as the clowns of the business. I always will.

Had they not sent this email, I would have been none the wiser. One person ruined their national brand. (I bet they got an A in clown school.)

We will not name names here, but here is part of the message:

“Paul Harvey version was the washer bottle is broken! How does a washer bottle get broken, and AC system over charged ???? We were asking questions since vehicle has not ever been in our stores for repairs or service. Car fax was clean so we are fixing the vehicle under warranty since we cannot prove anything and the Dowling’s are giving us any information other than being very defensive which usually in my book means something up.”

The Democratic National Committee learned the power of email — the wrong way.

Jobs were lost, trust destroyed. In the aftermath of the Nevada Democratic convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote about Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager: “Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.”

In another email, Wasserman Schultz said of Sanders: “He isn’t going to be president.”

Other emails had her stating that Sanders doesn’t understand the Democratic Party. Bernie got hosed. Email pain is not just for Democrats, Republicans past and present have had their fair share of problems.

Email woes have no party affiliation.

There should be an email protocol — in writing — for all your staffers, including interns, volunteers, and all the way to the top.

We don’t need to go into mail servers (or things like that); email is simply not a secure platform for communication.

Don’t talk trash, send credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or anything confidential via email. Yes, there are encryption packages available to secure email communication, if you are willing to make the investment.

Nevertheless, use email as designed, and you will have a pleasant and (most importantly) more secure computing experience.

Be safe out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Alcee Hastings wants FBI investigation of Ivanka Trump security clearance

A group of House Democrats is asking the FBI to review whether first daughter and White House Adviser Ivanka Trump omitted information from her security clearance application when she joined the administration as an unpaid White House adviser.

Broward/Palm Beach Representative Alcee Hastings is among the 22 signers of a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Democrats want McCabe to investigate whether Ivanka Trump was truthful in her filling out an FS-86 application for a top-level security clearance. The document requires applicants disclose foreign contacts, meetings, and business interests by the clearance holder in addition to those of their spouse and siblings.

The issue refers to Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, who had been making continuous revisions to his own FS-86, omitting key meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey KislyackSergey Gorkov, head of state-run Vnesheconombank and most recently, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. in June 2006.

“We are concerned that Ivanka Trump may have engaged in similar deception,” the letter states. “The high standard to which we hold public servants, particularly senior advisers to the President of the United States, requires that these questions be raised, and promptly answered.”

Hastings is not the only Florida Democrat to try to block a Trump family member’s security clearance. Last week Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced two amendments into a spending bill that would have revoked the security clearance of Kushner, a White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law.

One of the amendments to the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill would bar funds from being used “to issue, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President who is under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.”

The amendment failed by a 30-22 vote.

A second amendment sought to revoke the security clearance of White House staffers who deliberately fail to disclose meetings with foreign nationals or governments on their questionnaire for national security positions. It also failed on a 30-22 vote.

Tim Canova raises $32K out of the gate in CD 23 race

Tim Canova, who announced less than three weeks ago that he will challenge Debbie Wasserman Schultz again in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District CD 23, raised nearly $32,000 in June.

Over the weekend, Canova’s campaign announced that he had raised $31,928 from 1,323 small contributions, with an average donation of just $24.

Canova announced that he would run against Debbie Wasserman on June 15.

“We are encouraged that so many of our grassroots supporters are stepping up to make donations in such a short period of time. It’s an indication that progressives are ready to fight back against the corporate machine and career politicians who have lost touch with working folks,” said Canova.

Canova has pledged not to take any money from PACS or corporate interests in his second bid to unseat Wasserman Schultz who, he says, “has been swimming  in big corporate money for most of her political career.”

Wasserman Schultz defeated Canova by 14 percentage points in the CD 23 primary last August, the first serious challenge that she faced since being elected to the Broward/Miami-Dade County congressional seat back in 2004.

Although the race wasn’t close, Canova became a vehicle for Democrats nationally who were disenchanted by Wasserman Schultz’s leadership as chair of the Democratic National Committee, and he raised millions from donors all across the country.

Less than a month after his loss to DWS, Canova announced he would stay involved in Florida politics by creating a public advocacy group called Progress For All, which raised more than $100,000 from over 6,000 donations in 2017.

“It’s like our campaign never ended,” Canova said. “We never stopped working for the people of this district. Through Progress For All, we have remained active on the issues that matter in Florida and across our country.”

 

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