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June 24, 2016

Lopez-Cantera bids Senate campaign farewell with call to supporters


Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said good-bye to his U.S. Senate campaign Friday with a call to supporters in which he thanked them and promised to be "fully behind" Marco Rubio's re-election bid.

"I'm going to do what I can to help Marco," Lopez-Cantera told the Miami Herald after the call.

That's in contrast to Gov. Rick Scott, who is sitting out the Republican primary between Rubio and Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff.

Lopez-Cantera, who stepped aside after urging Rubio to run, got in a jab at Beruff, noting he didn't show up to the last grassroots event Lopez-Cantera attended recently in Venice, near Sarasota.

This will be the first election since 2006 in which Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative and Miami-Dade County property appraiser, isn't on a ballot.

He said he might attend Rubio's first fundraiser, Sunday in Coral Gables.

Broward Democratic Chair Mitch Ceasar won't run again


Flashback to 1996 in Florida politics: The Republicans gained control of their second chamber in the Legislature, the Broward Democratic Party chairman had gone to jail, and Democrats in the left-leaning county lamented that one of their most frequent get-togethers was at funerals.

The new county party chair, Mitch Ceasar, took charge of the group of activists that December and asked for what appeared to be impossible: silence.

“Quiet! Quiet!” Ceasar said, holding a microphone in one hand and a bagel in the other. “We're on a roll here — or a bagel.”

The Mitch Ceasar era in Broward County Democratic politics is nearing an end, now that he announced that he will not seek re-election to a position he had won five times. Ceasar said that it was time to pass the baton on to new leaders.

“I felt 20 years was a great opportunity, a great experience,” Ceasar said Friday. “Often frustrating but still something I loved to do.”

His decision wasn’t a surprise because Ceasar had temporarily stepped aside from his party leadership role last year to run for Broward clerk of csourts. Friday was the last day to qualify to run as a precinct committeeman, something Ceasar would have had to do to run for chair.

After the Aug. 30th clerk of courts primary, whether he wins or loses, Ceasar said he will return as chair of the Broward Democrats until his term expires in December.

Keep reading here.

Census shows Miami-Ft. Lauderdale media market now majority Hispanic, thanks to Broward County


The expensive Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market is now made up of more Hispanics than any other demographic, according to an analysis of new U.S. Census numbers by Tallahassee Democratic strategist Steve Schale.

Schale dove into the figures, which show that Hispanic growth in Broward County has fueled the shift in the media market. Miami-Dade County has already majority Hispanic and became even more so, he found. The bi-county area tipped from 48.1 percent to 50.3 percent Hispanic in the 2015 Census numbers, he said.

Dade went from 65 percent to 66.7 percent Hispanic. Broward went from 25 percent to 28 percent. 

Political operatives care deeply about media markets -- known as "Designated Market Areas," or DMAs -- because that's how they divide their buys for TV advertising, usually the most expensive part of election campaigns.

Other interesting tidbits from Schale:

The latest Census estimates show Miami-Ft. Lauderdale has retaken the lead as the biggest DMA in Florida. Earlier estimates, from 2010, had Tampa leading the Florida list. The difference is small, though -- less than 5,000 people.

Miami-Dade remains the most diverse county in the state, Schale found. "Only 14.4 percent of Dade County residents are non-Hispanic white now," he wrote in an email to the MIami Herald.

His full blog post on the Census numbers is worth a read.

Miami-Dade Democrats boast of challenging every Republican on the ballot, again


For the second consecutive election, Miami-Dade County Democrats have decided to challenge every single Republican on the congressional or state legislative ballot.

Juan Cuba, the local party's executive director, noted in a statement Friday after the candidate qualifying deadline elapsed that Democrats are running in all districts held by Republicans: three in Congress, four in the Florida Senate and nine in the Florida House.

"The party of Trump will not get a free pass this year," Cuba said. "We welcome these brave Democrats for stepping up and giving voters a choice between progress and hate."

The party employed a similar strategy in 2014, when then-Chairwoman Annette Taddeo recruited candidates for every local seat. (Its current chairman is state Sen. Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay, who is facing a contested re-election.) Taddeo, now a congressional candidate herself, drew critics who argued putting so many Democrats on the ballot gave an incentive to Republicans who otherwise wouldn't have campaigned to bring out conservative voters. The effect, they said, was to hurt the handful of Democrats who had a real shot in truly competitive seats.

"Not only did it not work out all that well for them last time -- it produced the most votes for [Republican Gov.] Rick Scott than any other county in the state of Florida," Miami-Dade Republican Party Chairman Nelson Diaz said. "None of candidates had any money or any sort of campaign, and our candidates ran serious, hard campaigns that generated actual votes."

But Cuba countered then and now that flooding Miami-Dade with Democrats boosted Charlie Crist's numbers by a small margin when he ran against Scott in 2014. That gap can only improve in a presidential-election year when more Democrats are expected at the polls, according to Cuba.

Column: The overhyping of underwhelming Patrick Murphy


From Tampa Bay Times political editor @adamsmithtimes:

For at least a year, the conventional wisdom has echoed from Democrats and Republican alike in Washington, Tallahassee, and across Florida: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is the future of the Democratic Party, a powerhouse statewide candidate and most likely Florida's next U.S. Senator.

Today, two months before Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's preferred candidate faces Alan Grayson in a primary and four and half before the general election, we're struggling to think of when Florida last saw a candidate who proved as overrated and over-hyped as Murphy.

The Times/Herald and others in recent weeks have shown the pattern with the 33-year-old congressman from Palm Beach County: He appeared to be a serial exaggerator of his accomplishments, from inflating the scope of his work on Gulf clean-up after the BP oil spill, to falsely claiming to have earned dual college degrees, to overstating his work as a CPA. This week a Miami TV station aired a two-part investigative series that portrayed Murphy as an unaccomplished, chronic embellisher.

"Murphy’s rise is extraordinary because of how little he seems to have accomplished to get here," concluded CBS4 News. "...Murphy has in some cases exaggerated his experience and in other instances made claims that were misleading or outright false. For instance, he has never worked a day in his life as a Certified Public Accountant. And he was never a small business owner."

Murphy's campaign has attacked the report as unfair and inaccurate. He was a CPA, even if he was never licensed by Florida or worked as long as he seemed to imply. And he did have a small business, even if his wealthy father may have bought it for him and it didn't actually do much cleanup work.

But what's already certain is that the Democratic Party establishment prematurely planned a coronation for a candidate about to be mauled and carved up by Republicans. "Patrick Murphy - a career built on lies," is how the National Republican Senatorial Committee has started describing him.

Murphy is telegenic, moderate, and as a congressman largely uncontroversial. Mainly, though, what has set him apart and drew the enthusiasm of the likes of Harry Reid is money. Murphy’s father in the construction business has been willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get him elected, so the party establishment saw little reason to dig below the surface of Murphy’s image.

Political analysts have consistently deemed Florida's U.S. Senate race as one of a handful of toss-up contests across the country. After Rubio announced his reelection campaign last week, that rating will likely shift to GOP-leaning. 

Given the way Murphy has withered under scrutiny in recent weeks, we're wondering if most of the drama will be in the primary and not the general. Rubio may face more difficulty winning the nomination against businessman Carlos Beruff than beating either Grayson, notoriously obnoxious and mired in pending ethics probes - or Murphy, who increasingly looks like an emperor with no clothes.


Governor and Cabinet pay tribute to Orlando victims

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, First Lady Ann Scott and the three members of the Florida Cabinet on Friday took turns laying yellow roses next to photos of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando.

Each of the 49 killed at the Pulse night club are memorialized in front of Florida's Historic Capitol in Tallahassee with state of Florida flags. 

Scott did not speak with reporters at the event, but later issued a statement indicating that he had directed that the photos of the victims remain on display for 49 days.

"The memory of this horrific tragedy will never be forgotten, as well as the legacies of each of the 49 victims," Scott said in the statement.  "While we can never completely heal from the pain of such loss, we continue to be reminded of each life taken in Orlando and their individual impact on so many."

Pam Keith qualifies for Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Florida


The first major party candidate to launch a 2016 campaign for Florida's U.S. Senate seat was among the last to get on the ballot ahead of Friday's noon deadline.

Labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, a Democrat from Miami, dropped off her candidate oath and her $10,440 check at about 10:15 this morning at the Florida Division of Elections' office in Tallahassee.

Keith first launched her U.S. Senate campaign in November 2014 and has been campaigning full-time across the state. But she's struggled to gain name recognition and campaign funds in the Democratic primary against U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy, of Jupiter, and Alan Grayson, of Orlando.

The party establishment -- and its donors -- strongly backs Murphy, and Grayson has support among progressives in the party. Keith is painting herself as an alternative who, she says, can "energize voters to the polls" and offer something "new, outsider, fresh, solutions-oriented" that voters in this election cycle want.

"Recent revelations have shown some of the very significant weaknesses in my opponents," Keith said Friday, after she filed her paperwork. "This season, more than any, voters are really looking for substance, authenticity and relatability -- and I think, by far, I'm the candidate who satisfies those needs the best."

Both Murphy and Grayson have vulnerabilities.

Grayson has an active congressional ethics investigation against him into once-offshore hedge funds he operated out of the Cayman Islands while in office. There's been no new developments on that ethics case since early April, when the Office of Congressional Ethics released its findings that Grayson might have violated ethics rules and federal laws. It's up to the U.S. House Ethics Committee to continue investigating, if it chooses to.

Meanwhile, Murphy -- who is viewed as the frontrunner in the primary -- has been plagued for the past month by media investigations exposing embellishments and contradictions in his professional and academic credentials. That was capped off most recently by a blistering two-part report this week by Miami Herald news partner WFOR CBS-4 Miami, which garnered national attention. The CBS Miami investigation built off and echoed previous reporting by the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times and Politico Florida.

Some questioned whether Keith would even qualify for the race this week, because she had just $13,400 in the bank, as of March 31 (the end of the last campaign finance period).

"I have a mission and a purpose, and I stay focused on what I'm doing," Keith said. "Naysayers exist in every industry and in every endeavor, so you just learn overtime that that's just not something you need to pay much attention to."

Also this week, two other Democrats joined the primary race and qualified for the ballot: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and California businessman "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando.

*This post has been updated.

Last-minute maneuvers as candidate qualifying ends

The week-long candidate qualifying period closed at noon Friday in Tallahassee and at elections offices around the state with the usual last-minute jockeying for political advantage.

Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton, wearing a bright orange "Let Irv Serve" ball cap, moved from one Senate race to another in the final hour of qualifying, and will challenge Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, in an Aug. 30 primary for the District 31 Senate seat in Palm Beach County.

"Let the people decide," said Slosberg, whose residence is in Senate District 29, where another incumbent, Democratic Rep. Kevin Rader, is running. (Before commenting, he checked his phone to be sure the state elections web site confirmed him as "qualified"). Slosberg

The 29th district dips into northern Broward County, while the 31st is wholy within Palm Beach, including Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Lake Worth.

"It's going to be a bloodbath," said a Democratic operative who was part of the crowd hanging out at the state elections headquarters in Tallahassee.

The move by Slosberg, whose daughter Emily Slosberg is running for his House seat, creates an unusually high 15 contested primaries for Senate seats. Ten of the battles are between Democrats and five are between Republicans, according to preliminary candidate qualifying information which the state says may not be final until Friday evening.

At least 14 senators and 25 House members were elected without opposition, and a number of others have token write-in opposition in November, which enables them to continue to raise and spend campaign money.

Marco Rubio will kick off Senate fundraising Sunday in Coral Gables

FullSizeRender (5)

Marco Rubio's donors have gotten back together to collect checks for the Florida Republican again, now that Rubio is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

They will launch their fundraising campaign Sunday in Coral Gables, a little more than three months after Rubio ended his bid for the presidency.

The reception is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the home of Claudia and Bernie Navarro, close friends of Rubio's who hosted donors several times during the presidential campaign.

At first, Rubio backers had hoped to turn a Friday night event for Carlos Lopez-Cantera's Senate campaign into a Rubio cocktail instead. But not all Lopez-Cantera donors -- such as Jeb Bush loyalist Jorge Arrizurieta -- are supporting Rubio. And a Rubio event would have required separate notice from a Lopez-Cantera one.

So Lopez-Cantera scrapped his reception -- and Rubio planned one of his own.

Suggested contributions are $10,800 per couple for the highest level of support. A "general attendee" is asked to give $2,700.

A new, pro-Rubio super PAC is churning out attacks against likely Democratic nominee and Jupiter U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Rubio has one Republican foe remaining, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff.

Miami GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo files 'no-fly, no-buy' gun bill in House


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo was joined a bipartisan group of U.S. House members Friday as he filed gun-control legislation in the wake of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The bill would prohibit gun sales to people listed on the government's terrorist-watch no-fly list. A similar law has been pushed in the Senate by Republican Susan Collins of Maine, but it has failed to garner the necessary super-majority support in that chamber.

Critics such as Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have opposed so-called "no-fly, no-buy" legislation because they say the no-fly lists are riddled with errors. The Curbelo bill would create a process for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to appeal a gun-purchase denial.

"We must protect Americans from the ever increasing threat of terrorism and violent acts of hatred here at home while we fight radical jihadists overseas," Curbelo said in a statement. "After the horrific massacre in Orlando, and countless other mass shootings across the country, the American people want answers. Congress must act, at the very least, to ensure individuals on the No-Fly list and 'selectee' list cannot purchase a firearm."

Curbelo got co-sponsorships for the bill along with Republican Reps. Peter King of New York, Bob Dold of Illinois and Scott Rigell of Virginia, and Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

One of the Miami Democrats vying to challenge Curbelo, former Rep. Joe Garcia, slammed Curbelo for filing the legislation after saying gun laws didn't "make sense" after the Orlando mass shooting and that gun control wouldn't stop future terrorist attacks.

"Had he supported this and other measures, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, things might be different today," Garcia's campaign said in a statement that also noted the House has no plans to vote on gun-control bills.

A previous version of this post and its headline incorrectly stated that Curbelo co-sponsored, rather than filed, the legislation. The post has also been updated to include Garcia's statement.

With Rubio running, Lopez-Cantera formally calls off ritzy fundraiser


Marco Rubio was supposed to headline a fundraiser Friday night for Carlos Lopez-Cantera's U.S. Senate campaign.

When Rubio announced Wednesday he would run for re-election instead, Lopez-Cantera dropped out of the race. But it was unclear what would happen to the planned gathering of deep Republican pockets at Coral Gables' luxe Biltmore Hotel.

Friday morning, Lopez-Cantera's campaign made official that the reception was off. There was no way to turn the gathering into a fundraiser for Rubio instead, the Miami Herald learned.

"We sincerely thank all of the hosts who worked to make the event a success!" Lopez-Cantera finance director told backers ni an email. "Your continued support throughout the campaign has been incredible and on behalf of Carlos and the entire campaign team we cannot thank you enough."

Lopez-Cantera has scheduled a 5 p.m. conference call to thank supporters.

Todd Wilcox to leave Senate race


Todd Wilcox, an ex-CIA officer and Orlando defense contractor, is dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate.

He entered the race last year when Marco Rubio planned not to seek re-election, and campaigned against career politicians. He confirmed Friday that he'll step aside and endorse Rubio.

"There is no doubt that Republican control of the Senate is the only way to preserve the Constitutional integrity of our Supreme Court, realign our military’s force structure and ensure the basic freedoms and liberties that make ours the greatest country in the world," Wilcox said in a statement. "Senator Rubio and I don’t agree on everything. We've travelled different paths, but I respect his grasp of the challenges we face and I appreciate the reality that he, as the incumbent, is best positioned to defeat either Patrick Murphyor Alan Grayson in November."

Until this week, there was no clear favorite in the Republican primary, giving first-time candidates like Wilcox a rare opportunity. But Rubio’s decision this week to seek re-election changed the odds for a once-crowded field of Republicans.

U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera already dropped from the race after Rubio announced he would run.

Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, is the only other major Republican candidate still running.

In a statement Friday, Beruff made it clear that he intends to remain in the race, saying "the choice is clear" and that the incumbent senator is "Washington's candidate, who has consistently failed to do the job."


Wilcox had planned to stay in the race to take on Rubio and Beruff.

"I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot," he said Wednesday after Rubio announced his re-election campaign. "None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race."

But polls released by the Republican group Senate Leadership Fund showed Rubio with a dominant lead over Wilcox and Beruff in a primary matchup. There had been concern that they would split anti-Rubio votes in the Aug. 30 primary. But Beruff said Thursday that Wilcox "hasn't even moved the needle."

In the campaign, Wilcox, who grew up in Tampa and joined the Army after graduating from the University of Tampa, made “It’s time to elect a warrior” his rallying cry and criticized career politicians.

Much of his campaign was on the ground at Republican clubs and events with broad bases of voters, like gun shows.

But he never attracted much support from donor groups. He pumped more than $1 million of his own wealth into his run, making him the biggest contributor to his campaign, as of March. He said last month that he was prepared to spend more of his own money to be elected.

Spanish-language ad for Hillary Clinton -- featuring a Miami woman -- will air during Copa America final


Democrat Hillary Clinton's first Spanish-language TV ad of the general election will air during Sunday's Copa America final -- and it will feature a Miami woman.

"At 8 years old, we moved to the United States," Luisa Santos says in the 60-second spot. "My mom left everything behind to give my sister and I a new opportunity."

Santos, who was born in Colombia, owns Lulu's Ice Cream on Biscayne Boulevard. The ad also includes other Hispanics pushing Clinton's message to reject divisiveness from Republican Donald Trump.

The Copa America final will be played in New Jersey between powerhouse teams Argentina and Chile.


Anitere Flores does have a Democratic challenger, so does Rene Garcia

Miami dade districts@ByKristenMClark

Of course, Democrats wouldn't have just let Miami Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores coast to re-election.

After some re-shuffling this week when Flores' previous Democratic challenger qualified in a neighboring district instead, Democrats were under the gun to find a candidate to put up against Flores in District 39. The deadline for candidates to file for this year's primary and general elections is noon today.

They found one: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Mucarsel-Powell, of Pinecrest, filed her candidacy for District 39 on Thursday, but it doesn't appear - as of 9 a.m. - that her qualifying papers have been processed yet by the Florida Division of Elections. (That's not uncommon; there's usually a lag between when candidates submit their papers and when their affirmed to be "qualified" in the candidate list online.)

According to Miami Herald archives and her LinkedIn page, Mucarsel-Powell was named senior vice president of development at Jackson Health Foundation in November 2014. Before that, she spent more than eight years working at Florida International University -- first as director of development from 2003-2007, then as associate vice president for advancement for FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine from 2007 to July 2011.

Mucarsel-Powell helps run her own business, D. Mucarsel-Powell & Associates, LLC -- which was registered with the state in 2012. According to state records, she and her husband, Robert Powell, are managers of the business. Mucarsel-Powell's LinkedIn page lists her as current president of the firm, also known as DMP Associates.

The District 39 seat, newly redrawn because of redistricting, leans Democratic and Hispanic. The seat spans western and southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys.

A write-in candidate, Brent Artz of Big Pine Key, also qualified Thursday. An independent candidate, Sheila Lucas George, filed previously in the race but had not yet qualified as of 9 a.m. today.

Mucarsel-Powell fills the void left by Miami Democrat Andrew Korge, who left the District 39 race on Wednesday for what he viewed as better prospects in District 40, which is in central Miami-Dade County.

Korge set up a three-way Democratic primary there between sitting Sen. Dwight Bullard and former state legislator Ana Rivas Logan.

A fourth Democrat entered that race on Thursday: Missalys Perez, of Hialeah. (Her qualifying papers have not yet been processed.)

Unless there are any more late-filing candidates today, the winner of that August primary among those four will take on Miami Republican Rep. Frank Artiles in the fall. Independent Mario Jimenez also qualified for the November election.

Korge is under fire this week -- accused of offering Bullard money to move to a different race. Rivas Logan says Korge also approached her last month about swapping races (but offered no money). Both say they declined Korge's offers. Korge denies he offered Bullard "$25,000 cash," but wouldn't say whether he, instead, might have offered campaign help or fundraising support.

Elsewhere in Miami-Dade County, Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, of Hialeah, also drew a last-minute challenger. Until yesterday, he'd been the only candidate to file for the District 36 seat -- which meant he would've been re-elected without opposition.

But Democrat Anabella Grohoski, of Miami Springs, filed her candidacy, setting up a general election campaign.

District 36 includes north-central Miami-Dade County, including Doral and Hialeah.

Marco Rubio broke promise, says super PAC's new Spanish-language Facebook ad

via @learyreports

American Bridge 21st Century will launch a Facebook ad against Marco Rubio in key Hispanic areas, casting the senator as untrustworthy and not just because he broke a promise not to seek re-election.

The Spanish-language ad will run over the weekend in Miami, Tampa and Orlando, the liberal super PAC said.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Miami-Dade Senate candidates say challenger tried to get them out of District 40 race


Miami Democratic state Senate candidate Andrew Korge is so ambitious for public office that he’s willing to go to extremes, his primary opponents say.

In the past month, Korge tried to pay a state senator to switch districts in Miami-Dade County, and he tried to persuade his other competitor to swap races with him, Korge’s two Democratic opponents in District 40 each told the Herald/Times.

Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, said Korge approached both him and his political consultant within the past two weeks and offered $25,000 if Bullard left the District 40 race for the open, coastal seat in District 38 — now being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis.

In a campaign statement, Korge — who on Wednesday switched from the District 39 race to the District 40 contest — said: “I unequivocally deny the accusation that I offered Dwight Bullard $25,000 cash to move to the District 38 Senate race.”

But he wouldn't say whether he offered Bullard the money in campaign support or fundraising help.

And the other Democrat in the August primary -- former state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan -- says Korge also tried to persuade her not to run in District 40, by offering to swap with her for the District 39 race he was previously in.

More here.

David Rivera, millionaire? So says his latest financial disclosure


In the three years since former U.S. Rep. David Rivera left Congress -- unceremoniously, after a single term and under the cloud of a federal criminal investigation -- he’s managed to significantly grow his personal wealth, even as what he does for a living has remained a mystery.

He’s worth more than $1.5 million, according to a financial disclosure form he filed this week to qualify as a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. The last time he publicly declared his finances, in a 2012 congressional form that didn’t require a net-worth estimate, he listed just two assets -- neither of which suggested he had the makings of a millionaire.

Most of Rivera’s newfound wealth lies outside the U.S., in a pair of overseas bank accounts in Mexico and Taiwan each worth more than $300,000, his disclosure shows. He also owns three properties in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula worth $250,000, $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

How Rivera acquired the money and the properties is unknown. He did not respond to questions a Miami Herald reporter emailed him Thursday afternoon.

For years, Rivera has claimed to be a business development consultant, an amorphous profession with unidentified clients. The only income source listed in his latest disclosure, for calendar year 2015, is $104,000. The money came from Xemma Holdings S.A. de C.V., a company in Merida, Mexico, “in partnership” with Interamerican Consulting, Rivera’s corporate entity registered at his Doral home.

More here.

Read Rivera's latest disclosure.

June 23, 2016

CBS Miami, part 2: More questions raised about Patrick Murphy's environmental company


After sending shockwaves through Florida and national political circles with its first report on Wednesday, Miami Herald news partner WFOR CBS-4 Miami aired Thursday evening the second installment in its two-part investigation probing deeper into Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's résumé inflation.

The 4-minute report on Thursday focused on the oil-skimming boats that Coastal Environmental Services -- under Murphy's direction -- owned, developed and operated, which the company promised would "leave conventional skimming vehicles in its wake."

Murphy was vice president of the company for no more than six months after the BP oil spill in 2010 and touts the experience repeatedly on the campaign trail as part of what makes him a "small business owner." (Whether Murphy actually owned the company -- a subsidiary of his dad's construction company -- is unproven, despite his campaign's assertions to the contrary.)

CBS Miami investigative reporter Jim DeFede found that the skimmers Coastal owned weren't actually "tested and proven" the way the company claimed and that other marketing materials it distributed in 2010 inflated the company's experience.

Here is the second part of the investigative report:

The first installment, which aired Wednesday evening, sent the Jupiter congressman's campaign into damage-control and spin mode well into the night and much of Thursday. The Murphy campaign released Thursday morning a detailed point-by-point rebuttal, alleging the CBS Miami report was "deeply false" and "misleading."

While CBS Miami did clarify small aspects of its initial report, the key conclusions of the story are true -- that Murphy never "worked" as a CPA and isn't a "small business owner."

The CBS Miami investigation built off and echoed previous reporting by the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times and Politico Florida, which in recent weeks exposed embellishments and contradictions in Murphy's academic and professional credentials -- including his time at Coastal Environmental and as a CPA.

Republicans quickly capitalized on Wednesday's TV story to slam Murphy, including a new pro-Marco Rubio super PAC -- which released an attack ad Thursday afternoon using footage from the first report.

Read and watch Part 1 of the CBS Miami report here and Part 2 of the investigation here.

Marco Rubio's got help from a new super PAC, which is already hitting Patrick Murphy


Friends of Marco Rubio got to work quickly creating a new super PAC to back the Florida Republican's Senate re-election campaign. The first order of business: slamming Democrat Patrick Murphy's résumé inflation.

Florida First Project was born Wednesday, the same day Rubio announced his decision to seek another six-year term. It's run by many of the same people who managed Conservative Solutions, the super PAC that assisted Rubio's presidential campaign. Others involved in the committee worked for the campaign itself.

By Thursday, Florida First had released its first web ad, a forceful hit against Murphy, the likely Democratic nominee who had the bad luck of learning of Rubio's re-election bid on the same day that Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 published a scathing investigation into Murphy's professional background. Murphy's campaign has disputed some of the report's findings.

"Patrick Murphy lied," the 30-second spot says. "He isn't who he says he is."

Heading Florida First Project will be Warren Tompkins, also directed Conservative Solutions. Two other Conservative Solutions veterans, strategist Mark Harris and spokesman Jeff Sadosky, will serve the same roles as well. The PAC will also be advised by longtime Rubio strategist Heath Thompson and pollster Whit Ayres. Dorinda Moss, the finance chief of Rubio's presidential campaign, will be the PAC's finance director.