While the rest of the country freezes, things are heating up in Florida as marijuana politics take a sour turn.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a rising star in the Democratic Party and senate hopeful in 2016. Last year, during the campaign to legalize medical marijuana, she drew a lot of flak from chief advocate John Morgan for her opposition to Amendment 2, especially since Morgan had helped raise over $100,000 for her congressional campaign.
It was a small dust up in the 2014 campaign, but now it seems their relationship is blossoming into a full-on feud as details have emerged that Schultz attempted to offer her support for Morgan’s 2016 medical marijuana initiative in exchange Morgan retracting critical comments that he made about the congresswoman.
According to Politico, Morgan leaked e-mails and text messages to the news outlet revealing an ongoing discussion between Schultz’s chief political advisor Jason O’Malley, medical marijuana consultant Ben Pollara, and Morgan himself.
“[Schultz is] In a tizzy over this politico story,” Pollara wrote to Morgan. “Saying she might be willing to support new amendment. Any chance you’ll retract your statement to Caputo?” Within about two hours, Morgan curtly replied, “No. She is a bully. I beat bullies up for a living.”
Pollara wrote back to O’Malley saying “Tried. Failed.” The next day, Morgan leaked the e-mails and thus, the controversy was born.
Schultz vehemently denies the accusations, calling them outrageous. “I wouldn’t change my position in exchange for support under any circumstances — ever.” Schultz told the Sun Sentinel. “I was more comfortable with the way the language was going … . I wanted to see if, before battle lines were drawn again, we could start a conversation.”
Although Pollara has declined to comment on this story to media outlets, he has also not denied the chain of events put forth by Morgan, which could be interpreted in a number of ways. Pollara is in a tough spot, and anyone with a brain would do exactly what he’s doing now.
While it may be amusing to watch prohibitionist politicians squirm in the spotlight, this feud between Morgan and Schultz could have implications that last longer than the media cycle.
As a prominent Democrat, a party which typically supports marijuana more than Republicans, Schultz could prove to be a more dangerous enemy than the average prohibitionist politician, and she will likely never forget what Morgan did.
In what promises to be a contentious race, Schultz could play the spoiler for medical marijuana by drawing just enough democratic support away from the initiative. Nothing is set in stone, so until election time comes, we’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope that we haven’t just won the battle today only to lose the war tomorrow.