Once again, The EMERGE USA political committee, a group operate by high profile Muslim activists, endorsed many Broward Democrats on the November ballot. Candidates with the Muslim group’s seal of approval include Charlie Crist, Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief, Judge Ian Richards, State Rep. Hazelle Rogers, controversial judicial candidate Dennis Bailey and State Senator Maria Lorts Sachs. EMERGE USA wants voters to reauthorize the property tax dollars allocated to the Children’s Services Council Of Broward County, as well as approving an $800 million dollar bond to be given to the School Board of Broward County.
According to its website, EMERGE USA is a “non-partisan, Florida based the political action committee that endorses and raises money for state and federal candidates based on their support for civil rights, minority rights and a diverse America where underrepresented communities are seen as a part of the social fabric of our nation.” On its Facebook page, EMERGE PAC claims it “works with candidates that support issues that are of importance to underrepresented communities, with a specific focus on Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans throughout the United States.”
Despite its claims to be a simple civil rights group, published reports have questioned EMERGE leaders’ views regarding attacks on Israel. During a January 2010 town hall meeting, Emerge’s Tampa-area Regional Field Coordinator Laila Abdelaziz asked the President Barack Obama, “W]hy have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people, and yet we continue supporting them financially with billions of dollars from our tax dollars?”
In November 2012, after Israel invaded Gaza, in order to stop Hamas from launching rockets into Israel, Abdelaziz tweeted, “Don’t worry ya Gaza, we’re working hard for you in Florida.”
In 2012, EMERGE teamed up with other controversial Muslim groups to promote early voting in Broward county. RED BROWARD obtained a flier from United Voices, CAIR and EMERGE urging people to take part in “FLORIDA MUSLIM EARLY VOTE DAY.”
CHARLIE CRIST TIES TO MUSLIM PAC
In August, REDBROWARD reported EMERGE USA pressured former Governor Charlie Crist to issue a Ramadan greeting.
EMERGE PAC founder Khurrum Wahid was troubled by Charlie Crist’s silence on the last day of Ramadan, a holy month in the Islamic faith. RED BROWARD obtained emails between Wahid and David A. Geller, a Hollywood, Florida lawyer on “#TEAMCHARLIE.” On July 28, 2014 at 12:43PM, Wahid emailed Geller, “Can you have an EID Greeting sent out today from crist.” Eid-al-fitr is the feast celebrating the last day of Ramdan.
At 1:59PM, David A. Geller replied, “I am looking into it.” Six minutes later, with a hint of sarcasm, Wahid responded Crist owed the Muslim community. Wahid wrote, “I am surprised it did not happen. Disconcerting we are asked to raise funds and the most monumental month and holiday of the Muslim calendar is ignored. I suspect this would not happen with other communities.”
Four minutes later Geller replies, “I will make sure to pass this along as well. I was told that it was already in the works–which I am assuming means they do know about it and are/have been working on it. Can I call you later today to discuss? I want to make sure the campaign really understands this.” At 2:14Pm Wahid writes, “Sure happy to talk anytime. But simple really rather just ask it get sent out.”
Nine minutes later, at 2:23pm, the official Charlie Crist Twitter account complied with Wahid’s demand for a statement. The campaign tweeted, “Eid mubarak and God bless to all those celebrating the end of Ramadan today!” Wahid and several other EMERGE officials retweeted the Crist statement.
MUSLIM PAC DEEP TIES TO BROWARD MAYOR
Also in August, REDBROWARD reported on Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief’s close ties to EMERGE USA.
RED BROWARD obtained photographs from social media sources showing Sharief at several events for EMERGE USA. The group’s political committee recently endorsed many Broward Democrats, including Sharief. While Mayor Sharief is a prolific social media user, none of these pictures were posted on her Facebook or Twitter accounts.
In May, EMERGE USA hosted the “AMERICAN MUSLIMS: BREAKING BARRIERS” at a Miami hotel. Mayor Sharief and her husband attended the event. Several pictures show Sharief addressing the crowd at the Doubletree hotel. Miramar Mayor Lori Mosley attended the dinner with Sharief. She posted pictures on her Facebook.
In June, EMERGE USA co-founder Khurrum Wahid posted a picture of Sharief at a Sunrise Islamic school. The tweeted picture of Sharief includes this quote from her speech to graduating students, “My Muslim upbringing lead me to serve.” Sharief was speaking at the Salah Tawfik Islamic Elementary and Middle School.
In July, Mayor Sharief spoke at an EMERGE USA Ramadan dinner celebration in Broward. Sharief, wearing traditional Muslim attire, stood in front of the EMERGE USA banner.
Political insiders speculate Sharief has a degree of influence over the endorsements of EMERGE USA. RED BROWARD reported EMERGE has financially supported Sharief’s 2010 and 2014 campaigns for the County Commission.
Again, Sharief did not post any of these pictures on social media. She posts pictures at store openings, parades, school events, alomst anything. Why did she fail to publicize EMERGE USA events?
SACHS, BAILEY, RICHARDS GET MUSLIM APPROVAL
Broward poltiical insiders speculate Maria Sachs and Dennis Bailey’s endorsements were helped by their ties to Broward lobbyist Judy Stern. They believe Judge Ian Richards was aided by members of his political committee including controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Will these candidates publicize these endorsements when they visit Democrat voters in Broward’s condo communities?
Sachs faces a strong challenge from Ellyn Bogdanoff for the Florida Senate District 34 seat.
Dennis Bailey is battling Rhoda Sokoloff for a seat on the Broward County Bench, while Judge Ian Richards faces off against Claudia Robinson.