Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

Miami's Temple Israel cancels Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speech

WASHINGTON — Miami's Temple Israel on Thursday canceled a program featuring Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after a high-profile Republican donor quit the congregation to protest the top Democratic congresswoman's speech.

Stanley Tate, a well-known philanthropist and prominent Republican who started Florida's prepaid college tuition program, resigned from the temple after he learned Wasserman Schultz would be talking about Israel following services on Friday night, and that he wouldn't get an opportunity for rebuttal.

The temple's president, Ben Kuehne, a Miami lawyer, said the event was canceled because of security concerns. He said they "certainly embrace the congresswoman's willingness to participate in one of our programs," but decided it was "unwise to proceed with the program tomorrow."

Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called it an unusual situation, due in part to the temple's "internal politics." Temple Israel, which invited her to speak, is just outside her congressional district.

"I believe strongly that in a democracy people should be able to hear from and interact with their elected officials, which is why I gladly accepted Temple Israel's invitation to speak as I have previously to many organizations and religious institutions throughout South Florida," she said. " It is unfortunate that some would allow politics to stand in the way of citizens' ability to interact with their representative."

Tate's resignation 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. Tate, 85, is co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign in Miami-Dade County. He also has a national role in the GOP presidential candidate's campaign.

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

The dispute comes in an election year when Republicans are trying to win over traditionally Democratic-leaning Jewish voters from President Barack Obama. Some Jewish voters are concerned about the president's stance against Israel's building of settlements in the predominantly Palestinian West Bank.

Kuehne himself was on former vice president Al Gore's legal team during the 2000 recount, and as DNC chairwoman, Wasserman Schultz is one of the president's top mouthpieces.

Strong political opinions have their place, Kuehne said, but they are "independent of the temple."

"The temple is a non-partisan, non-political organization," he said. "It promotes Jewish religious and cultural values. Politics surround all of what we do in American society. And politics tend to be very potentially divisive of late. But throughout 90 years, Temple Israel has tried to steer clear of politics by getting involved in social justice programming that we believe is independent of and more compelling than political issues."

Tate said he objected to Wasserman Schultz speaking from the dais in the sanctuary. He would have preferred that she speak in the auditorium, and if she did, that there be a Republican involved, too.

Wasserman Schultz's office said she had no control over where she would be speaking. They also pointed out that it's not unusual for political figures to speak at religious institutions, and she is regularly invited to do so. That included attending a service this winter on Martin Luther King Day at New Birth Baptist Church in Miami.

Kuehne said that the sanctuary is frequently used for such events, in part because it is an inviting space and "such a majestic structure."

"We program many events, including services, in the sanctuary," he said. "That's not an unusual situation for us."

Wasserman Schultz was scheduled to speak after the daughter of a college acquaintance was confirmed at the temple. Suzanne Trushin, who went to the University of Florida with Wasserman Schultz, said her daughter, Lauren, 16, has been following the congresswoman's career since she wrote a paper about her in middle school.

Lauren had chosen to speak about the intimidation of Jews over the centuries, and wanted to focus on how Jews of all political persuasions should admire Wasserman Schultz for her achievements, even if they disagreed with her politics.

Trushin, who sits on the temple's board, called the security concerns "a pretext for disinviting a sitting congresswoman."

"Temple Israel of Hollywood, in California, they invited the Rev. Martin Luther King to deliver a sermon back in 1965," she said. "That was a security concern. This was no security concern."

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18