It’s not often that the endemic corruption surrounding just one politician is enough to spur the candidacy of a political contender. In the case of Tim Canova’s bid for the Congressional seat of Florida’s 23rd district, that unlikely scenario is exactly what motivated him to run. Disobedient Media spoke with Canova by phone to discuss the strong grassroots support for his campaign, and his recent decision to run as an independent.

Tim Canova explained to Disobedient Media that after he announced his decision to run as an independent rather than as a Democrat, his campaign received a groundswell of financial support in the form of a dramatic spike in small donations to his campaign. We asked Tim what this means for the future of the Democratic Party, and if his decision to run independently represents a watershed moment in the scandalous history of a party whose integrity has been internally eroded by its ruling elite.

Canova explained that the initial impetus to throw his hat into the political ring came in large part from deep dissatisfaction with the performance of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Schultz has been the subject of numerous reports published by Disobedient Media, thanks in large part to her central role in a number of embarrassing corruption and election-rigging scandals, which Canova believes symbolizes everything wrong with the Democratic Party.

Canova, pictured, announced he would run as an Independent. Image via Tim Canova.

Canova related to Disobedient Media that since he announced he would run against Schultz as an independent candidate, he has seen a “dramatic” upward spike in support, especially small donations. According to Canova’s campaign, he received over 200,000 individual small donations in his 2016 race against Wasserman Schultz.

Canova added that his decision to run independently arose directly from his previous experience of being actively sabotaged and treated unfairly when running as a Democrat. He likened the treatment to an abusive spousal relationship, an analogy that many progressives have drawn when explaining the need to leave the Democratic Party. Canova also expressed his disappointment at the lack of basic human decency and respect shown by Wasserman Schultz and her associates.

One issue in particular prompted Canova’s decision to run independently. That is, the illegal destruction of ballots from his 2016 run against Schultz, which occurred after Canova filed a lawsuit against Dr. Brenda Snipes, Broward County Supervisor of Elections in an effort to be able to review the ballots. In a video available from the Canova campaign, Snipes admits that she signed a document allowing for the destruction of ballots from the 2016 race. Canova explained to this writer that in addition to the destruction of ballots, there were concerning discrepancies in the number of votes tallied.

As Disobedient Media reported last year, the NYC board of elections admitted that it illegally purged over 200,000 Democratic primary voters from the rolls in 2016, an act which will not see a public hearing and which left many Bernie voters stunned. In this way, allegations of election rigging surrounding the 2016 Democratic Primary under Wasserman Schultz’s leadership as Chairwoman of the DNC were echoed in her run against Canova.

Canova told Jimmy Dore that, right off the bat, his campaign was told by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections that no digital copies of the ballots had been made. “Six months went by, and the Supervisor of elections was stonewalling us. So I brought a lawsuit last June. While the lawsuit was pending, the Broward County Supervisor had destroyed all of the ballots. Destroyed them in September of 2017, while the suit was still pending.”

Canova told Fox News that ballots were destroyed despite being the subject of a pending lawsuit, saying: “The first of three public records requests was over a year ago, we were stonewalled for six months, finally filed a lawsuit to enforce our rights, and while the lawsuit was pending, they destroyed the ballots. That’s in violation… according to Politico’s interview of seven election law experts, it’s a violation of the Federal law, and a violation of the court itself. So you’ve got to ask, why would somebody be violating the law to destroy ballots?”

The video is available in full below:

As reported by Politico, The Florida Governor’s Office has shown interest in the suit, and has demanded answers for the illegal destruction of paper ballots. Canova told Disobedient Media that his campaign was offered scans of the ballots which were initially said not to have existed. He said it would be impossible to know whether these digital copies had been altered, which negated their use in legitimate vote-counting efforts.

Politico noted: “POLITICO first reported last Friday that, in the middle of Canova’s suit, Snipes’ office destroyed the paper ballots but made electronic copies of them. That, however, is not legal, according to election law experts, who point out that election records are supposed to be preserved for 22 months after a federal election, according to federal law. And under state law, a public record sought in a court case is not supposed to be destroyed without a judge’s order.”

The court is expected to hear Canova’s representatives’ summary judgment motion in the suit against Snipes on April 24th. Canova told this author that his campaign was disturbed to find that Snipes lawyer offered to produce an affidavit from Schultz in an effort to stop the lawsuit. The destruction of ballots wasn’t the only impropriety in the results, with The Miami Herald reporting: “Florida’s Secretary of State referred Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to the county’s state attorney and sheriff… after her office posted elections results before polls closed at 7 p.m. in violation of state law.”

In contrast with the blatant and overt corruption associated with Schultz, Canova has been a well-respected law professor, specializing in finance and banking, for over twenty years. He describes his initial involvement with politics stemming from the 2011/2012 Occupy movement and related anti-Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) efforts. Canova told this writer that in 2015, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s personal support for fast-tracking the TPP, her corrupt representation and receipt of substantial funding from the fossil fuel, and corporate prison industries, all while labeling herself “liberal,” eventually spurred him to make his own run for her congressional seat.

Another aspect of his initial inspiration stemmed from witnessing Bernie Sanders raise $1 million in small donations in one day. Canova told this author that this event suggested he could feasibly garner enough support to have a chance at winning the congressional race. His 2016 efforts, like those of Bernie Sanders, were thwarted amid allegations, backed by evidence, of election rigging and nefarious actions by the party establishment.

Image courtesy of Tim Canova

As Disobedient Media previously reported, Schultz is the only defendant named personally in the DNC Fraud Lawsuit, which is currently in an appeals process in the wake of the suit’s dismissal on jurisdictional grounds. Last year, this author noted that the phone number of Schultz’s Aventura office matched the caller ID of a bizarre voice-modulated call made to the law offices of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the suit. The incident combined with other alleged threats prompted the plaintiff’s attorneys to unsuccessfully request an order of protection.

Disobedient Media also reported on the outrageous behavior of her associate, infamous Floridian Democrat Evan Ross, who openly offered to execute Edward Snowden and Wikileaks’ Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange. After this writer’s report was published on Ross’s threatening remarks, Wasserman Schultz appeared to be on extraordinarily friendly terms with Ross at a public meeting.

Along with Luke Rosiak of The Daily Caller, Disobedient Media’s Kenneth Whittle has consistently reported on the still-unresolved Awan scandal, which hinged directly on Wasserman Schultz. Other independent journalists, including HA Goodman, have covered Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s involvement in the Awan scandal. Canova told this writer that he felt the investigative process regarding the Awan issue had been remarkably slow, owing either to House leadership “soft-pedaling,” due to the mutual corruption of both parties, or from the Republicans’ desire to create a strategically-timed bombshell at their leisure.

When asked about the decision-making process which led to his decision to run as an independent candidate, Canova cited the repeated rigging and subversion tactics employed by the Democratic Party establishment which effectively shut out the possibility of a fair race within the party. As discussed with Canova, the Democratic party has clearly acted against its own best interest by shutting out candidates like Sanders and Canova who garner huge public support but who would also threaten the corrupt neoliberal status quo.

Canova rejected claims that he was “splitting the party” by running as an independent, and stated that there is a much better chance for progressives who run as independent candidates. He added that since he made the announcement, a number of progressive candidates in other races had likewise decided on independent candidacies, and told Canova that his decision inspired their move in that direction. In this sense, it appears that Canova’s independent congressional bid may represent a sea-change away from the Democratic Party, as opposed to trying to make changes within a structure that has repeatedly disenfranchised its base.

If Canova’s campaign proves successful, it may signal far more than the displacement of an infamously corrupt figure in Floridian and national Democratic party politics. It would represent a watershed in a long line of defining moments in Democratic Party politics stemming from Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful run. Such a win would represent a telling indictment of the entire party by progressives who refuse to remain penned in by the limits of a corrupt, corporatized and neoliberal Democratic Party establishment that denied them the candidate they rightfully chose.

Bernie Sanders disappointed many of his supporters when he ceded the nomination to Clinton without protest, and thereafter endorsed her campaign instead of running on an independent or Green Party ticket. In that light, Canova’s decision to run as an independent represents not only a new step forward for progressives in Florida, but also provides some small beacon of hope for those who also view him as carrying on the spirit of the movement Bernie Sanders started.

Disobedient Media will continue to provide coverage of Canova’s efforts.

Co-Founder and Editor in Chief at Disobedient Media.