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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Wasserman Schultz booted from temple speaking gig in her backyard

Miami's Temple Israel yanked a program featuring Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after a high-profile Republican donor quit the congregation in protest of the Democratic congresswoman's involvement.

Stanley Tate, a well-known philanthropist who started Florida's pre-paid college tuition program, resigned from the temple in protest after he learned Wasserman Schultz would be talking about Israel Friday night and he wouldn't get a chance at rebuttal.

Both are highly political people. As chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Wasserman Schultz is one of President Barack Obama's top mouthpieces. Tate is a co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign in Miami-Dade County, and also has a national role in the GOP presidential candidate's campaign.

Tate's resignation, first reported by the Shark Tank blog, came after he asked the temple's leadership to let him speak in response to Wasserman Schultz. When they wouldn't do so, Tate said he would leave the congregation.

"She's the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee," he said. "The topic is U.S.-Israel relationship. There cannot be any conversation on that topic, none, unless it has to do with the politics."

It's not unusual for Florida politicians -- or any political figures -- to speak at religious institutions, and Wasserman Schultz's office said she is regularly invited to do so. The temple is just outside her congressional district, which straddles Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The temple's president, Ben Kuehne, said that while they "certainly embrace the congresswoman's willingness to participate in one of our programs," the board decided "it's unwise to proceed with the program tomorrow."

Erika Bolstad

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[Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:14pm]


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