For many years Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has bucked President Obama on U.S.-Cuba policy by voting to maintain the embargo.
Yet over the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Wasserman Schultz seems to tolerate a totally different position by allowing Democratic Party headquarters to be used as a platform for sanctions-easing advocates.
It turns out that at least one of DNC Chairman Wasserman Schultz’s employees helped set up a group called Engage Cuba. Engage Cuba has been lobbying the Congress to unconditionally ease economic sanctions on Cuba.
Trying to broker or arrange a meeting with the Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and an Engage Cuba official, the DNC staffer says in a leaked e-mail:
… this organization [Cuba Engage] for full disclosure — is one I helped launch and that advocates for greater opening with Cuba. They want to meet with the Congresswoman’s team on her Congressional side. Who should I connect them with? There is also a PAC component, so if there’s a different contact on the campaign side…
In a May 5, 2016 e-mail, Sarah Farhadian, Wasserman Schultz’s Legislative Counsel who works in the Congresswoman’s Washington, D.C. Congressional office — just a few blocks away from the DNC — also had an e-mail exchange with the DNC staffer who advised Engage Cuba before his stint at the DNC. Using her non-government e-mail account, the DNC staffer and Farhadian were looking to facilitate a meeting with Engage Cuba officials to discuss U.S.-Cuba policy.
So Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz votes in Congress against the President on Cuba policy — an easy vote for her to make because of her Florida connections to Cuban Americans — but behind the scenes at the DNC is she working to undermine it? What did she know about this DNC staffer? Was the DNC being used as a political base of operations by proponents of engagement with Communist Cuba? Was she pretending to be tough on Cuba in Congress just to secure political intelligence from hardliners?
There are a few more e-mail on Cuba matters in the WikiLeaks database. I expect the media and advocacy groups will review them in the days and weeks ahead. With this new information surfacing, proponents of a tougher policy against Cuba will need to be more judicious working with politicians who say one thing in public, but then appear to do the complete opposite when no one is looking.