Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is denying reports that she offered to switch her position on medical marijuana if a frequent critic agreed to retract negative statements he had made about the Democratic lawmaker.
"I wouldn't change my position in exchange for support under any circumstances — ever. I stand on principle. I'm always very proud to stand in front of my constituents and explain when I have a difference of opinion with them," Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel
Wasserman Schultz, who is also chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was responding to a report in Politico on Thursday
alleging that she had proposed to trial lawyer John Morgan that if he backed away from his criticism of her, she would reverse her opposition to his medical marijuana initiative and publicly support it.
Morgan, a lawyer based in Orlando, Florida, told Politico that he was providing the news site with a series of email exchanges in an effort to show how "thin-skinned" she is and how "transactional" her political team is.
While Wasserman Schultz and Morgan have butted heads in the past, according to Politico, the proposal to switch her position was made through an intermediary, Ben Pollara, after a Politico reporter sought comment on Wednesday from her office in the most recent medical marijuana dispute between the two.
"In a tizzy over this politico story. Saying she might be willing to support new amendment. Any chance you’ll retract your statement," Pollara, a top Democratic fundraiser and campaign manager for the state's 2014 medical marijuana initiative, wrote to Morgan in a Wednesday email obtained by Politico.
In her interview with the Sun Sentinel, Wasserman Schultz denied the claims made in the emails and said that what actually happened was that one of her staffers reached out to Pollara to express her desire to discuss the issue, and her concerns about the initiative.
"I was worried that it wasn't going to be covering only the people for whom it was intended," she told the Sun Sentinel.
"I've seen the language that they've proposed for the 2016 ballot," Wasserman Schultz said. "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."
Last June, Wasserman Schultz, who is a cancer survivor, outlined her position on medical marijuana
in a statement released by her office.
"Pertaining to the ballot initiative in Florida, I have concerns that it is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials. Other states have shown that lax oversight and ease of access to prescriptions can lead to abuse, fraud, and accidents.
"Also, given Florida’s recent history in combating the epidemic of 'pill mills' and dubious distinction as having among the highest incidents of fraud, I do not believe we should make it easier for those seeking to abuse the drug to have easy access to it," she wrote.
Depending on whether Florida Sen. Marco Rubio decides to seek re-election or enter the GOP presidential race, Wasserman Schultz may run for Senate in 2016. Some medical marijuana activists contend her position will hurt her politically if she enters the Senate race.
"While the country moved towards more sensible marijuana policies, Wasserman Schultz remains inexplicably out of touch. This does not bode well for an elected official contemplating running for a higher office.
"Medical marijuana received 58 percent of the vote in her state, more than she could ever expect to win in a statewide race. In that fact is a lesson for her. Hopefully she will change how she votes on the issue," Bill Piper, director of national affairs for Drug Policy Alliance, wrote Thursday in The Huffington Post.
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