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Wells Fargo terminates bank account of pro-medical pot candidate

Published Aug. 20, 2018

TALLAHASSEE —Wells Fargo terminated the official campaign account of a Democratic candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole "Nikki" Fried because of her campaign's promotion of medical marijuana.

Nikki Fried's campaign received a letter on Aug. 3 that they had 30 days to close its official account, records show. Matt Gotha, a consultant for Fried's campaign, said they closed the account Saturday and transferred about $137,000 to BB&T.

Fried on Monday called the decision "totally unprecedented," and another example of "the failures of our laws, institutions (and) politicians to respect patients and doctors (and) the will of the voters."

Banks have been hesitant to have accounts for medical marijuana businesses because although states have legalized it for medical use, it's still illegal at the federal level. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated he is going to be stricter than the previous administration on medical pot.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Bridget Braxton sent a statement about the bank's motivations.

"It is Wells Fargo's policy not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ," the statement read.

• • •

A recent pamphlet sponsored by Jeff Greene's PAC is being blasted for being misleading.

The pamphlet showed 10 members of the supposed "Palm Beach County Democratic Ticket," which included Greene, Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, and state Sen. Bobby Powell.

With the exception of Greene, all of the candidates listed on the "ticket" are black.

Powell, who has endorsed one of Greene's opponents, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, called the pamphlets "disrespectful" on Facebook.

About an hour and a half after Powell's Facebook post, the Palm Beach County Democratic Party said it had not issued any "slate cards" for the primary. It can't promote any candidate over another in a primary.

• • •

Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti on Saturday made a last-minute trip to address the Hillsborough Democrats' King-Kennedy gala dinner Saturday night. Avenatti, 47, is exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

"It's going to take a very unique individual to beat (Donald Trump) in the 2020 election," the California trial lawyer said in an interview before the Tampa dinner. "I don't know yet if I'm that person or not but what I do know is that I think there's going to a very small subset of individuals who can actually beat him."

He said he was in good position to beat a crowded, but aging, Democratic field in 2020.

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"When I look at the landscape of the various candidates that might enter the race, I would be the youngest or certainly one of the youngest. I might also note that since 1960 there have been five Democrats elected to the office of the presidency — three of whom were under the age of 50 by the time they were elected. The only two exceptions were LBJ and Jimmy Carter."

What about governing experience?

"The No. 1 priority is who can beat Donald Trump in a general election. You can have all the experience in the world. You can be well-versed in every policy known to mankind. And if you can't beat Donald Trump in a general election, then you don't have any business running."

Times Political Editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.


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