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.”

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

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. 

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy raised about $1.4 million this quarter" »

July 07, 2015

Alan Grayson on TPP, All Aboard Florida and Rand Paul

As he appears he is getting ready to announce a bid for Senate, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, gave an interview over the weekend in which he talked up his own legislative record, bashed his opponent about a controversial train project and offered a hint of praise for Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

The interview with News 13 in Orlando offers a preview as to the types of issues Grayson will focus on in a likely campaign. Grayson is expected to announce his bid for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat this month. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced his campaign in March.

Grayson talked about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and said that his video about it drew one million hits on Facebook and tradetreachery.com. And he also boasted about his own legislative record:

“I passed more amendments since I returned to Congress than any member of Congress. I passed more bills than any member of Congress." Later in interview, Grayson said he had 19 of his bills and 15 amendments pass.

Grayson criticized Murphy for his votes related to All Aboard Florida -- the Miami to Orlando train. Grayson is in favor of the train while Murphy is against it. The Palm Beach Post wrote that there has been bipartisan concern about noise and road closings within Murphy’s Treasure Coast district.

Continue reading "Alan Grayson on TPP, All Aboard Florida and Rand Paul" »

Group calls for Congressional investigation into Rep. Alan Grayson's hedge funds

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed a request with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson’s hedge funds.

The question raised in the request is whether Grayson, an Orlando Democrat, is violating a House rule by using his name on the hedge funds.

“Not only does the rule explicitly ban members from receiving “compensation for affiliating with or being employed by such an entity in any capacity,” but it also prohibits a Member’s name to be used by such an entity “regardless of whether the organization compensates the Member,” states the July 6 request for an investigation.

The request for an investigation into Grayson has occurred as he appears poised to announce his campaign for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced in March and has the backing of the party establishment.

Celeste Bush, chair of the Democratic Party of St. Lucie County who supports Murphy, filed a similar request for a Congressional investigation Tuesday.

The requests for an investigation follow a story in Politico that suggested Grayson was violating House rules. Grayson says he has complied with House rules although financial experts questioned his explanation.

“Alan broke no laws, violated no ethics rules and fully disclosed everything,” Grayson spokesman Kevin Franck told the Miami Herald. “Supporters of former Republican ​Patrick Murphy​ are on the attack because  they can't defend Murphy's conservative record of siding with Wall Street and they know that Alan Grayson can't be bought or bossed around.”

Any investigation -- should it move forward -- won’t become public for months until and if it gets to the House ethics committee. About one-third of investigations the Office of Congressional Ethics starts end up going to the ethics committee for further review.


April 27, 2015

Alan Grayson says he is No. 1 in the house for small donations

A day after a Florida man landed a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to demand campaign finance reform, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson talked up his own efforts to focus on small donations and his potential U.S. Senate bid.

Grayson, an Orlando Democrat, told a reporter for Democracy Now on April 16 that he will "probably" run in a primary against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat in 2016. As Democratic Party activists and leaders consider their best path to winning that seat, Grayson wants to remind them of his populist fundraising:

"I’m the only member of the House of Representatives who raised most of his campaign funds in the last election from small contributions of less than $200," he said.

We decided to check if Grayson holds a record in the House for contributions of less than $200.

(A spokesman for Grayson told PolitiFact Florida that he is likely a few weeks away from making his decision but reiterated that he has said he will "probably run.")

Turn to PolitiFact Florida and see what we found.

April 16, 2015

Judge detains Sen. Menendez ally Salomon Melgen in Medicare fraud case

A wealthy South Florida eye doctor won’t be able to practice medicine for the foreseeable future after a federal magistrate judge Thursday ordered that Salomon Melgen be detained before trial.

Melgen — already charged in a public corruption case with his close friend, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez — remained behind bars Thursday on a newly filed Medicare fraud indictment after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk to his native Dominican Republic.

“His ties to the Dominican Republic are very strong,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell told Magistrate Judge James Hopkins. She noted that Melgen has a boat at his North Palm Beach waterfront home, lots of cash, citizenship in the Dominican Republic, a resort villa and other assets there and connections to officials in that country.

“He could flee to the Dominican Republic or to another country for that matter,” said Bell, adding that the DR has an extradition agreement with the United States but it doesn’t include a provision for a possible fugitive accused of healthcare fraud.

More here.

March 23, 2015

Fact-checking Patrick Murphy who will run for Marco Rubio's seat

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democratic political newcomer who ousted GOP firebrand Allen West in 2012, announced Monday morning that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Marco Rubio. Murphy plans to run regardless of whether Rubio makes a presidential bid or not.

"I’m running for the U.S. Senate for the same reason I ran for Congress in 2012 – Washington is full of hyper-partisan politicians who can’t, or won’t, get anything done, and Florida deserves better," Murphy said in a prepared statement. "I’m a consensus-builder who is working to boost the economy by cutting waste in government, raise the minimum wage, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and protect the Everglades. I’ve done all of this by being an independent voice for Florida, and that’s what the Senate needs more of right now."

With Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and former Gov. Charlie Crist both announcing that they won’t seek the seat, the only other big Democratic name known to be weighing a run is U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.

On the Republican side, there is a long list of Republicans who are prepared to potentially run if Rubio steps aside to seek the presidency. They include state CFO Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our full story about Murphy including attacks by Republicans.


Patrick Murphy to run for Marco Rubio's Senate seat

As expected, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced Monday morning that he will run for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“I’m running for the U.S. Senate for the same reason I ran for Congress in 2012 — Washington is full of hyper-partisan politicians who can’t, or won’t, get anything done, and Florida deserves better,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “I’m a consensus-builder who is working to boost the economy by cutting waste in government, raise the minimum wage, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and protect the Everglades. I’ve done all of this by being an independent voice for Florida, and that’s what the Senate needs more of right now.”

Murphy’s prospects on the Democratic side recently improved when Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and former Gov. Charlie Crist announced that they would not seek the seat. But Murphy could face a challenge from U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, who is popular with progressives.

Turn to the Miami Herald for our complete story and turn to PolitiFact Florida which has fact-checked several attacks about Murphy including his positions on the federal Affordable Care Act.


December 09, 2014

U.S. Senate approves Venezuela sanctions


The U.S. Senate on Monday passed a bill imposing targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials responsible for violence and political arrests in the wake of anti-government protests earlier this year.

During a sparsely attended Senate session, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 was passed by voice vote. The bill had been caught in a political tug of war since May when the House passed a similar version of the sanctions.

In a statement, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) applauded the measure and asked her House colleagues to take up the Senate version so “Venezuela’s oppressors will be denied visas to enter the United States and their properties along with their assets will be frozen.”

The Senate bill targets Venezuelan authorities who directed “significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against persons associated with the anti government protests in Venezuela that began on February 4, 2014.”

More here.