May 24, 2016

U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox lacks proof that waterboarding works

U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox said the controversial interrogation practice of waterboarding isn’t torture but an effective tool in the global war on terror.

It gets results, he said.

In an interview published in the Miami Herald on May 20, Wilcox blamed the White House for limiting the country’s ability to gain intelligence from alleged terrorists.

"I can tell you that the enhanced interrogation techniques that have since been banned by this administration — specifically waterboarding — work," said Wilcox, who is vying for the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Marco Rubio. "They work on the terrorists, and there's a proven history of that."

Wilcox didn’t consider the practice to be torture, and also said while he didn’t advocate overusing waterboarding, it’s an option that should be available for interrogators. 

We wanted to know if waterboarding — strapping a prisoner to a board or table and then pouring water over a cloth covering their mouth and nose to simulate drowning — was a proven method of questioning someone.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

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.

Alan Grayson lacks evidence in attack on Patrick Murphy about All Aboard Florida

U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson dismissed a New York Times story about his hedge fund as "full of s---" in a sit-down with CBS4’s Jim Defede, a reaction so wrong his own campaign corrected him on the facts.

But that wasn’t the only attack in the interview that ran off the rails. Grayson called rival Patrick Murphy a "walking, talking crook" and zeroed in on Murphy’s wealthybusinessman father, another focal point in the race between the two Democratic congressmen running for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat.

Grayson accused Murphy of flip-flopping on the passenger rail project when it snubbed a bid from builder Thomas P. Murphy Jr., owner of Coastal Construction Group.

Murphy "switched his vote on All Aboard Florida and tried to destroy the program -- the only Democrat in the entire country who voted to destroy the All Aboard Florida program -- because his father tried to get in a bid to build it and was unsuccessful," Grayson said May 15. "So he went from being in favor of the program to being against the program. That’s certainly using your congressional influence. He tried to kill the entire program -- the only Democrat to do so -- because his father didn't get a contract out of it."

Did Murphy really flip-flop on votes for All Aboard Florida after his father’s company lost its bid?

There is no dispute that Murphy initially supported the rail project and later opposed it. There is dispute, however, over why he did it.

Keep reading our fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

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:


Read more here:


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

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" »