August 26, 2015

Alan Grayson boasts of his bill-passing record in web ad

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is out with a new ad in the U.S. Senate race -- this time boasting about his own legislative record.

“In the past two years in Congress, I have written more bills, passed more amendments on the floor of the house and enacted more of my bills into law than any other member of the House.”


In July, PolitiFact Florida fact-checked the same claim by Grayson when he stated it in his announcement video.

It’s true that Grayson is No. 1 in writing bills and resolutions but Grayson omits some caveats. The 10 bills he sponsored ended up passing as part of other bills, not as stand-alone measures. Of those 10, all but one ultimately landed in the same bill that passed with a fairly wide margin. He had 21 amendments pass, largely on voice votes, which suggests they were not controversial matters. Congressional experts say that the sheer number of bills or amendments written and passed doesn’t tell the full story of a member’s accomplishments.

PolitiFact Florida rated his claim Mostly True.

The Orlando Democrat is battling U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter in the primary for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat.

Grayson released his first online ad attacking Murphy’s legislative record earlier this week -- leading to push back from Murphy’s campaign.

Grayson’s campaign wouldn’t divulge details about the ad buy.

July 27, 2015

Group attacks David Jolly for refusing to cut money for botanical garden in D.C.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s Senate campaign was only hours old when he began taking fire from his fellow conservatives.

The Club for Growth, a political action committee backing Jolly’s GOP primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, said that Jolly may have only been in office for 16 months, but during that time he "racked up a terrible record on fiscal issues."

"Jolly is so addicted to big government, he couldn’t even muster up the courage to cut spending for a national greenhouse in D.C.," the PAC said in a statement emailed on the afternoon of July 20, 2015, the same day Jolly announced that he would be vying for Marco Rubio’s soon-to-be-open Senate seat.

Jolly has only been in office since March 2014, after winning a special election for the late C.W. "Bill" Young’s 13th congressional district seat. Given such a short tenure, we wondered what action was so wasteful it would warrant Club for Growth’s assertion that Jolly had squandered too many greenbacks on a greenhouse.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.

July 23, 2015

Alan Grayson fundraises off fictional Allen West candidacy

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, that tea partier Democrats love to hate, is the inspiration behind two of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson’s fundraising pleas in his U.S. Senate race.

“At 3:23 am this morning, there was a tremor in the Force. No, it was not the planet Alderaan being destroyed – that doesn’t happen until Episode IV. The tremor was caused by another e-mail that landed in my inbox touting Allen West for Senate,” states an email by Grayson who is running against a fellow Democrat in the House, Patrick Murphy. “This is the same Allen West who once called me “despicable,” “demeaning” and “disgusting” – the Triple Crown of insults starting with the letter “D”. Perhaps West was angling for the Nobel Prize in Literature, if it were awarded by Sesame Street.”

This is based on a Denver-based group that is fundraising for West for the Senate in Florida, Politico reported. But West, who lost to Murphy in 2012, isn’t running in Florida -- he moved to Texas last year to become the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“No, he is absolutely not running,” Catherine Daniell, a spokesperson at the center told the Miami Herald. “He lives in Texas now. The “fundraising” effort is a scam, which he says is disgusting.”

But that hasn’t stopped Grayson from citing his name to drum up dollars.

“West thinks that I’m a Marxist. (Karl, not Groucho.) How do I know that? Because he said so,” Grayson wrote in a fundraising email.

At a town hall meeting in 2012, West said that about 78 to 81 House Democrats “are members of the Communist Party. ... It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Grayson along with some other Florida Democrats are members of that caucus.

"Trust me -- if a member of Congress applied to join the Communist Party we would know about it," Libero Della Piana, vice president of the Communist Party USA told PolitiFact Florida at the time. "It would set up some red flags -- pardon the pun."

It raised red flags for PolitiFact Florida too -- earning the claim a rating of Pants on Fire

July 20, 2015

Fact-checking David Jolly, GOP candidate for Marco Rubio's seat

With only 15 months of congressional experience under his belt, U.S. Rep. David Jolly is announcing that he’s running for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

The 42-year-old Dunedin native announced July 20, 2015, he was seeking the Republican nomination after winning a March 2014 special election in Pinellas County’s 13th congressional district. The district has been one of the few genuinely competitive districts in the country, but the state Supreme Court ruled that it’s one of several that will have to be redrawn to conform to fair-districts rules passed by ballot measure. Those changes are expected to make the seat significantly more Democratic-leaning by adding heavily Democratic-leaning St. Petersburg in southern Pinellas to the district.

A lawyer and former lobbyist, Jolly was an aide to the district’s longtime congressman, U.S. Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, who died in office in 2013. After winning the tight special election, Jolly won a full term more easily in the 2014 general election, without significant opposition.

He’s joining a Senate field that already includes U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who announced in May, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who announced his campaign on July 15. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller and former Attorney General Bill McCollum also are considering running. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and U.S. Rep.Patrick Murphy are looking to win the seat on the Democratic side.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's story about Jolly's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact Florida.

July 17, 2015

Was Carlos Lopez-Cantera an enthusiastic supporter of bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida?

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera became the first Hispanic candidate to enter the Florida Senate race to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on July 15.

Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant leveled a series of charges against the Republican, but the one that caught our attention was this one: that Lopez- Cantera "voiced enthusiastic support for bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, calling the measure 'common sense.’ "

Lopez-Cantera, who was born in Spain to Cuban parents, is hoping to draw part of his support from Hispanic voters. Is it true that he was an enthusiastic supporter for an Arizona-style law, which some Hispanics feared would lead to racial profiling?

Tant has omitted the full story about what Lopez-Cantera said about bringing such a law to Florida. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our fact-check.

July 14, 2015

Did Alan Grayson pass the most bills and amendments?

Though U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, is perhaps most famous for his colorful language about Republicans, in his campaign for U.S. Senate he wants to portray himself as a politician who gets things done -- even when Republicans are in charge of Congress.

On July 9, Grayson announced that he will take on fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Grayson repeatedly made claims that he is No. 1 in terms of legislation passed:

"In the past two years in Congress, I’ve written more bills, passed more amendments on the floor of the House and enacted more of my bills into law than any other member of the House -- No. 1 out of 435 of us," Grayson said in an announcement video on

Is Grayson No. 1 in introducing bills as well as passing bills and amendments?

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the answer and see Grayson's full Truth-O-Meter record.

July 10, 2015

Are more businesses dying than starting? Let the claims begin in Florida's Senate race

An Orlando businessman vying for Marco Rubio’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat announced his candidacy by saying fresh blood is needed to change the worst economic climate the country’s ever faced.

"It's time to restore America's prominence both here at home and abroad," Todd Wilcox, a former Green Beret and CIA veteran, said in a statement announcing his candidacy on July 8, 2015.  "The economy is growing at a dismal rate. More businesses are closing than are opening for the first time in our nation's history."

The recent recession obviously has been an economic low point, but are the number of new businesses being eclipsed by the number of businesses closing for the first time ever? Well, it’s certainly true for as long as the government has been tracking that statistic. Beyond that is anyone’s guess.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

July 08, 2015

John Morgan says he told Alan Grayson he has 'snowball's chance in hell' of winning Senate race

Wealthy trial lawyer John Morgan, who has funded efforts to approve medical marijuana in Florida and backed Charlie Crist’s failed campaign for governor last year, said that he told U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson not to run for Senate.

Grayson, of Orlando, is expected to announce his Senate bid Thursday setting up a primary battle with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Morgan said he had lunch with Grayson in recent weeks at Houstons in Winter Park and later exchanged emails with him trying to talk him out of running. Morgan said he doesn’t believe Grayson can win a statewide general election race and says it would be a “shame” to lose his national progressive voice. (Hat tip to the AP which reported this earlier.)

“I made that pitch to him,” Morgan said. “I told him that I did not believe he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the general election and he could also become a drag in the presidential race in Florida.”

Morgan said that the Democratic nominee for president may not want to share the stage with Grayson in Florida while campaigning.

Morgan said that he considers Grayson a friend but plans to stay out of the race despite agreeing with his views.

“I’m not going to give him money, he’s rich, he will have money,” Morgan said. “I don’t approve of this campaign but I do approve of him. I love 90 percent of what he says and does. He is a little harder-edged than I would be -- I’m pretty bombastic myself.”

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Alan Grayson to announce whether he will run for Senate Thursday setting up Democratic battle with Patrick Murphy

U.S. Rep Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, will announce Thursday whether he will run for U.S. Senate, a source close to his campaign told the Miami Herald today.

That followed a report in Roll Call that Grayson will announce his Senate bid on TV Thursday, according to a source familiar with his plans.

Should he run, the battle between Grayson and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy will pit two widely different personalities against each other. Murphy was a Republican before he ran against tea party favorite Allen West in 2012 and ousted him. Since that time, Murphy has portrayed himself as a moderate and sometimes votes with Republicans including for the Keystone Pipeline.

Grayson is an outspoken liberal famous for his soundbites trashing Republicans such as when he compared Dick Cheney to a vampire. He has been dogged by news reports about his hedge funds which prompted requests for a Congressional investigation as well as his contentious divorce case which at one point was delayed when his wife's breast plants leaked.

Murphy, of Jupiter, announced in March his bid for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat. He has the backing of the party establishment including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and several Senators have given money to his campaign.

Part of the reason Murphy has drawn establishment support is that he has been a successful fundraiser. For two quarters in a row, Murphy has raised more than $1 million and now has about $2.5 million  cash on hand, according to his campaign.

In Murphy’s first campaign for office against West, Murphy raised $4.8 million in 2012. During the 2014 cycle, Murphy raised about $5.2 million and easily fended off a challenge from Republican Carl Domino.

During the first quarter of this year, Grayson raised about $200,000. His campaign hasn’t released his total for the second quarter, but it could be lower than Murphy’s since he hasn’t announced yet.

On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former Miami-Dade legislator and property appraiser, is expected to announce his bid for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat July 15. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach launched his campaign in May; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla is considering a bid.

Patrick Murphy raised about $1.4 million this quarter

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy who could soon face a challenge from U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate raised over $1.4 million in the second quarter of the year.

Campaign finance reports will appear on the Federal Election Commission website July 15 but Murphy’s campaign gave Naked Politics an early summary of how much money he raised between April and June.

The Murphy campaign reported that more than 3,000 new individuals gave to the campaign giving an average individual contribution of less than $200.

The campaign raised about $1.3 million during the first quarter and ended the second quarter with over $2.5 million cash-on-hand.

"I am so honored for the support I've received in this campaign," Murphy said in a prepared statement.  "Floridians understand how important this election is, and their early support is critical in helping get our message out.  I look forward to continuing to share my vision for strengthening Florida's middle class with people across the state."

Several Democratic Senators and Representatives gave to Murphy this quarter including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida. 

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