May 27, 2016

Ana Rivas Logan will run for state Senate, challenging Dwight Bullard

Rivas logan@ByKristenMClark

Ana Rivas Logan is in.

After weeks of mulling a bid for the Florida Senate, the former state lawmaker and Miami-Dade School Board member plans to file her candidacy next week for the District 40 seat, Democratic sources close to Rivas Logan confirmed to the Herald/Times.

An announcement is planned around June 1.

Rivas Logan's entrance into the state Senate race means she will challenge current state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Culter Bay, in the Aug. 30 party primary.

Rivas Logan said earlier this month that she had reservations about running against Bullard, but said "I do not want Frank Artiles to win either."

Artiles, a Republican state representative from Miami, is also running for the District 40 seat. He's campaigning hard and has racked up significant fundraising this spring to unseat Bullard.

Bullard told the Herald/Times today that he hopes Rivas Logan doesn't run. He said he plans to meet with her before the end of the month and "hopefully, we can come to an understanding."

"Anyone else is entitled to throw her hat in the race, but I just think to be fully transparent: To leave a well-funded Republican with nothing to do while two Democrats go toe-to-toe all summer puts undue pressure on a Democratic establishment that’s already strained," Bullard said, referencing other contentious state Senate races in Miami-Dade County that the party hopes to win.

"It weakens the field when you have to have a primary among Democrats, especially when one is a sitting elected official," Bullard added.

In April, Bullard raised just $2,600, compared to the $39,200 Artiles raised. Heading in to May, Artiles had $238,000 in cash on hand, while Bullard had less than $22,000.

While Rivas Logan and others have expressed concerns about Bullard's lack of fundraising, he said it's not going to be an issue. June is normally when state legislative campaigns ramp up, Bullard said, because in a normal year, the legislative session would have just ended in mid-May.

Bullard also pointed to endorsements he's already gotten from major unions, political advocacy groups and elected officials.

District 40 includes parts of central Miami-Dade County. It's heavily Hispanic and favors a Democrat. Almost 55 percent of the district voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

Rivas Logan served on the Miami-Dade School Board from 2004 to 2010. She was then elected to the Florida House in 2010 but lost her re-election race in 2012, after redistricting drew her into the same district as Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

photo credit: Twitter

May 24, 2016

Patrick Murphy falsely said he had a 'dual degree' in 2013 interview


Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign said Monday it was simply an "inadvertent error" that congressional and campaign websites for the Jupiter Democrat had exaggerated his academic record at the University of Miami.

But Murphy has himself made inaccurate claims about his education in recent years.

During a January 2013 interview with local access TV in Port St. Lucie, Murphy described himself as having earned "a dual degree in finance and accounting." (The interview is included below. He makes the comment at the 4:24 mark.)

But a "dual degree" is not the same as a double major -- which is what Murphy actually pursued while getting his bachelor's degree in business administration. He graduated from the University of Miami in 2006.

Murphy's congressional and campaign websites were amended on Monday after the Herald/Times asked questions.

Read our full story here.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary contributed to this post.

May 23, 2016

Exaggeration of academic record an 'inadvertent error,' Patrick Murphy campaign says


For the past 14 months on Patrick Murphy’s official congressional website and his campaign website for U.S. Senate, Murphy claimed he earned “degrees in accounting and finance” from the University of Miami.

But that was an exaggeration of his academic credentials.

Murphy — a two-term Democratic congressman from Jupiter — earned a single degree from the university in 2006: a bachelor’s in business administration, with his major areas of study being accounting and finance.

That’s not the same as the “dual degrees” Murphy claimed to have earned in the biography on his U.S. House website or the “degrees” he mentioned in his campaign biography.

Murphy’s campaign spokeswoman, Galia Slayen, said the embellishments were unintentional.

Internet archive records show how Murphy’s descriptions of his education evolved in recent years.

Murphy first falsely claimed “earning dual bachelor’s degrees” during his first U.S. House race in 2012. After he took office, Murphy’s House and re-election campaign biographies were correct and had accurate descriptions of his single bachelor’s degree.

But the embellishment resurfaced — on both biographies — when he announced his bid for U.S. Senate in March 2015.

Read the full story here..

May 20, 2016

Alan Grayson hires prominent field strategist


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson has hired Amy Ritter, a well-known progressive field strategist in Florida, his campaign announced today in a pizza-themed fundraising email.

Earlier this year, Ritter served as the state coordinator for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in Florida. Before that, she held various political and civic engagement roles at progressive advocacy organizations in the state, including Organize Now, the Florida Institute for Reform & Empowerment, the Florida Women Are Watching Political Action Committee and Florida Watch Action.

Grayson, a congressman from Orlando, recognized Ritter on the U.S. House floor in 2014 while speaking about Women's History Month. He called the Orlando resident a "communications and activist powerhouse (who) has made her mark on Florida politics through her innovative messaging and organizing skills."

Grayson faces fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, in the contentious Aug. 30 primary for Florida's U.S. Senate race. North Palm Beach attorney Pam Keith is also running.

May 19, 2016

Congressional Hispanic Caucus backs Patrick Murphy


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus' BOLD political action committee has endorsed Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida's U.S. Senate race.

U.S. Reps. Tony Cardenas and Juan Vargas, both of California, made the announcement on behalf of the caucus this morning on a conference call with Murphy and reporters.

They praised Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, for his desire to raise the minimum wage, pursue comprehensive immigration reform and make higher education more affordable.

Cardenas said the caucus did not ever consider endorsing Murphy's primary opponent -- fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando.

"As far as we can tell, Alan Grayson did not petition to be considered in our process and Patrick Murphy did," Cardenas said, adding that the 27-member caucus endorsed Murphy unanimously.

North Palm Beach attorney Pam Keith is also running in the Aug. 30 primary for the Democrats. Five Republicans are running in the GOP primary that same day.

May 18, 2016

Civil war in Democratic Party? Wasserman Schultz vs. Sanders

Just as she wants to focus all of her energy on the other party, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in the middle of a nasty brawl with one of her own party’s presidential candidates

The South Florida lawmaker, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, is openly fighting with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a clash that came to a head after a violent melee at a state Democratic Party meeting in Nevada over the weekend where Sanders supporters threw chairs and threatened state party officials, using vulgar sexist language at times.

Wasserman Schultz criticized Sanders’ response as insufficiently critical of his supporters. He and his campaign manager, in turn, are escalating complaints that Wasserman Schultz has used the party machinery to help her friend Hillary Clinton. All this comes at the very moment Wasserman Schultz had hoped Democrats would start to unify and turn their attention to the Republicans and Donald Trump.

Read more here:


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Republicans attack 'Privileged Patrick' Murphy for affluent South Florida upbringing


What Republicans describe as the "privileged" upbringing of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is the subject of a new online attack ad released today by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

National Republican operatives have nicknamed the Jupiter congressman as "Privileged Patrick" in an attempt to paint him as the product of an affluent family and as someone who rode into congressional office thanks to help from "Daddy Murphy."

"Born the son of a South Florida real estate tycoon, Privileged Patrick has lived his life high on the family fortune," a Robin Leach-style narrator says to begin the 2-minute ad.

Murphy's father -- Thomas Murphy Jr. -- runs a prominent construction company based in Miami, called Coastal Construction Group, which has helped build several high-profile projects in South Florida. He has been a substantial contributor to Murphy's campaigns, including his current bid for U.S. Senate.

As the ad notes, Murphy did graduate from high school at the elite Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. After graduating from the University of Miami and working as an auditor for a few years at Deloitte & Touche in Miami, Murphy did get a job with Coastal as VP of a new division focused on environmental clean-up.

But the NRSC's ad revives an old, misleading attack on Murphy involving his 2003 arrest outside a Miami-area nightclub for disorderly intoxication and possessing a fake ID. The charges were later dropped, but the incident was famous fodder in Murphy's first U.S. House campaign four years ago against Republican Allen West.

Politifact previously rated as "Mostly False" a claim from West that Thomas Murphy gave the prosecutor a "huge campaign donation" after the charges against his son were dropped.

In a prepared statement, Patrick Murphy's campaign said Wednesday: "Clearly Republicans have learned nothing from the last time these misleading ads failed to persuade voters."

"Once again, Republican politicians are misleading voters and distorting Patrick’s record," the campaign said. "The truth is that Patrick first ran for office to fight the Tea Party and their destructive, my-way-or-the-highway tactics. That’s why they’re desperate to mislead the voters, because they know that in the U.S. Senate, Patrick will fight for progressive values and get things done for Floridians.”

The NRSC said its running the online ad on social media. The political group aims to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate and is expected to aggressively target Murphy, since Florida's U.S. Senate seat -- currently held by Republican Marco Rubio -- could switch parties in November and possibly decide control of the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Murphy faces fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and North Palm Beach attorney Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 primary.

May 16, 2016

Rep. Wilson to chair hearing on helping young people of color


Rep. Frederica Wilson on Tuesday will bring together lawmakers and youth experts from Florida and beyond for a congressional forum on expanding opportunities for black and Latino young people.

Michael Smith, special assistant to President Barack Obama and head of the White House My Brother's Keeper program, will moderate the forum. Wilson will be joined by Arnaldo Gonzalez, Miami-Dade Schools chief of growth and development, and education leaders from North Carolina, Virginia and other states.

Also speaking will be Albert Dotson Jr., a board member of 100 Black Men of America who helps run the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

"As the founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, an in-school dropout prevention and mentoring program, I have experienced firsthand the powerful influence that a caring adult can have on a young person's life," Wilson, a third-term Democrat from Miami Gardens, said.

In February, Wilson helped launch the Congressional My Brother's Keeper Caucus. It now has 18 members, among them Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar; South Carolina's Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat; and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

When he started the My Brother's Keeper mentoring program in 2014, Obama drew criticism from some advocacy groups for excluding young women and girls. Wilson's hearing Tuesday will focus on expanding opportunities for male and female people of color.





Conservative group files FEC complaint against Patrick Murphy, super PAC



A conservative watchdog group wants the Federal Election Commission to investigate Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and a super PAC supporting him that's funded mostly by Murphy's father.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, said it lodged an official complaint with the FEC in a letter dated Friday.

"Murphy's super PAC has been primarily funded by Murphy's own company and a family member with whom he has financial ties, which appears to be unlawful coordination between a candidate and his super PAC," the group wrote.

MORE: Read FACT's complaint

Murphy's campaign declined to comment on Monday about the complaint.

It previously denied accusations of illegal coordination when the Herald/Times reported last month on Murphy's father's connections to the super PAC, called "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class."

Continue reading "Conservative group files FEC complaint against Patrick Murphy, super PAC" »

Alan Grayson calls Patrick Murphy 'a walking, talking crook' on CBS Miami



Hot off a combative interview with an MSNBC host on Saturday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson had an interesting interview with a Miami news anchor on Sunday morning.

The Orlando congressman's appearance on CBS Miami's "Facing South Florida" was much more tame and wide-ranging, as host Jim DeFede interviewed Grayson about why he's running for U.S. Senate and the various policies he supports.

A few times during the discussion, Grayson slammed his primary opponent -- fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.

He accused Murphy of being part of those who have "fundamentally corrupted" the Democratic Party, citing Murphy's father's substantial financial contributions to Democrats over the years.

MORE: "The financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid: Dad"

He also called Murphy a "walking, talking crook," because he owns $5 million in stock in his father's construction company, Coastal Construction, which has taken part in projects that benefit from the federal EB-5 visa program. In 2014, Murphy co-sponsored legislation to extend the EB-5 program.

The subject of a congressional ethics investigation into Grayson's family hedge fund also came up.

In contrast to the MSNBC appearance, Grayson kept his cool as DeFede questioned him about it. But he did offer this colorful soundbite:

Continue reading "Alan Grayson calls Patrick Murphy 'a walking, talking crook' on CBS Miami" »