October 21, 2016

For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections


via @learyreports

Patrick Murphy’s résumé got fresh attention in Monday night’s debate, with Marco Rubio challenging his CPA history, work on the BP oil spill and college degrees.

Overlooked in the public vetting of Murphy is a chapter that came just before his entrance into politics – one that helps illustrate the 33-year-old’s rapid climb from obscurity to where he stands today, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Murphy joined his father in a hotel venture that was an opportunity for the family construction business amid Florida’s economic downturn.

The $48 million Hotel des Artistes was to be built near the airport in Port-au-Prince on land owned by the WIN Group and the powerful Mevs family.

It failed to get financing but people involved in the project, including Clinton Foundation board member Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, have contributed to Murphy’s political campaigns.

The money and connections underscore Murphy’s appeal to Democrats as he emerged from nowhere five years ago to become a national fundraising leader who defeated tea party hero Allen West and is now trying to dislodge Rubio.

Continue reading "For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections" »

Univision: Spanish-language debate between Rubio, Murphy isn't happening



A potential U.S. Senate debate on Univision between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy won’t be happening after all, because the two campaigns have seemingly failed to agree to terms for the Miami event.

“The debate was canceled,” Univision spokesman Jose Zamora told the Herald/Times on Friday. He couldn’t immediately elaborate as to why.

Rubio’s campaign alleged Murphy is “blowing off” the event, but Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said the debate is still a possibility and disputed Univision’s statement that it was canceled.

“We’re continuing to work with Univision to make this debate happen,” Karp said, adding that the campaigns were looking at Oct. 28 as a date for it. “We’re talking about the format.”

Although both Rubio and Murphy had accepted invitations for the event, they haven’t finalized negotiations on terms — including in what language the debate would be done.

More here.

Photo credit: AP

After TV ad, Obama also does Spanish-language radio ad for Murphy



President Barack Obama has been all-in on raising Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's still-relatively-limited profile with Florida voters this week.

Obama did a Spanish-language TV ad that was released Wednesday, and today Murphy's campaign released a Spanish-language radio ad that the president did, too.

(Not to mention, on Thursday in person, Obama spent a noticeable portion of his campaign speech at a Hillary Clinton rally in Miami Gardens urging Democrats to help Murphy unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)

The new radio ad largely mirrors the TV one, but since it's 30 seconds longer, it has a couple additional lines by the president, both highlighting Murphy's character -- while also taking a subtle jab at Rubio:

"He’s a person with integrity that doesn’t abandon his responsibility," Obama says of Murphy in the radio ad.

"I count on Patrick Murphy and want you to do so also," Obama adds.

A narrator also offered this fresh line that wasn't in the TV spot: "Patrick Murphy worked with President Obama on immigration, while Senator Rubio supports Donald Trump."

"Voters know Marco's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community," Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, adding that Murphy has "used Dreamers as a talking point in this race"

"Marco is the only candidate who will act as a check and balance on the next president, regardless of who that may be," she said.

Murphy's campaign has aggressively been trying to improve the Jupiter congressman's appeal with Hispanic voters since the campaign hired Miami strategist Freddy Balsera in late September.

Listen to the radio ad here:

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Patrick Murphy's dad also gave another $1M to a Democratic super PAC last month


Tom Murphy Jr.'s generous political donations to help his youngest son's U.S. Senate bid keep on coming.

Patrick Murphy's father gave another $1 million to a major Democratic super PAC last month, just 10 days before the group pulled $6 million in planned ads out of Florida as Murphy's campaign struggled to gain ground on Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in September. (Patrick Murphy is faring better this month, as the race remains a dead-heat but Democrats haven't re-invested the dollars they pulled.)

Tom Murphy's latest major gift to the Senate Majority PAC -- revealed in a new campaign finance disclosure report filed Thursday -- means he's spent at least $2.8 million on Democratic efforts directly supporting Patrick Murphy this cycle.

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

It was the second $1 million contribution Tom Murphy made to the Senate Majority PAC since this summer -- and it came on the same day in September he also gave another $250,000 to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," a super PAC dedicated to supporting Murphy's Senate campaign.

Earlier this year, Murphy's father previously also gave $500,000 -- through himself and Coastal -- to the pro-Murphy super PAC.

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates' campaigns.

Patrick Murphy has come under scrutiny because of his father's generous support. His former primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, and at least one conservative group have each alleged Tom Murphy's donations constitute illegal coordination between Murphy's campaign and the independent super PACs -- something Murphy's campaign has called a "frivolous and unfounded attack."

Murphy has made campaign finance reform one of his campaign platforms -- saying earlier this year, he "hates" super PACs -- but he hasn't spoken out against his father's six- and seven-figure donations on his behalf. Rather he's expressed gratitude for the support from his father, whom he frequently describes as his "best friend and mentor."

Tom Murphy is the founder, CEO and chairman of Coastal Construction Group, one of the largest construction companies in South Florida. On the campaign trail -- including at a Hillary Clinton rally on Thursday in Miami Gardens -- Murphy often recounts how his father was a union carpenter who never got a college degree and "started his business out of the back of a truck with no guarantee of success." But success Tom Murphy found, turning Coastal into a billion-dollar company that made the family, including Patrick Murphy, millionaires.

Photo credit: AP

October 20, 2016

Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally

@ByKristenMClark & @AmySherman1

Vowing to carry on the legacy President Barack Obama will leave behind, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy told a crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Miami-Dade County this afternoon that he and the Democratic presidential nominee would support working families and create an economy "that works for everybody."

"With the future of our economy and our country on the line, who are Republicans trying to elect this November? Marco Rubio and Donald Trump -- seriously?" Murphy said to a chorus of agreeing boos from the crowd waiting to hear Obama campaign for Clinton in Miami Gardens, a predominantly back community.

Murphy was one of several speakers -- and the only one who was white -- who took the stage before Obama arrived at Florida Memorial University this afternoon. Murphy got some cheers from the crowd but didn't seem to fire them up like rest of speakers

Continue reading "Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally" »

Florida Democrats troll Rubio with website for 'inevitable' 2020 presidential bid


The Florida Democratic Party isn't convinced by Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's gradually more definitive answers this week that he's committed to serving a full term, if re-elected, and has no plans to run for president again in four years.

Democrats launched a new website Thursday for what they call Rubio's "inevitable 2020 presidential campaign." MarcoRubioForPresident.com uses Rubio's old presidential campaign logo and adds the slogan: "2020. OF COURSE."


“Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio isn’t fully planning on running for president in 2020,” FDP spokesman Max Steele said in a statement. “After saying ‘like 10000 times’ he would not seek reelection to a job he spent months complaining about, Rubio broke his word yet again."

"Marco Rubio has never let promises get in the way of his unquenchable ambition, and Floridians know he’s not about to start now," Steele said.

Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas called the stunt "just another desperate gimmick after the national Democratic Party abandoned Patrick Murphy and canceled tens of millions of (dollars in) ads it planned to run on his behalf."

Rubio was asked several times during Monday's first U.S. Senate debate if he would commit to another full term if re-elected and whether doing so meant he wouldn't run for president again -- questions to which he's offered noncommittal, vague responses in the past.

He initially responded: “I’m going to serve six years in the Senate, God-willing, and I’m looking forward to it," and then repeated that answer in follow-up questions, evading a definitive "no" answer to a potential 2020 presidential bid.

"You can't be a senator and a president at the same time," he said.

On Tampa Bay radio on Wednesday, Rubio elaborated, saying voters should believe he's committed to another full term "because I said it" -- which led to trolling tweets from Democrats who shared Rubio's famous tweet from May when he specifically shot down the idea of running for re-election to the Senate, only to change his mind about a month later.

“If I wanted to run for something else, I wouldn’t have run for Senate," Rubio told WFLA-AM 970 on Wednesday. "If I were going to run for president in 4 years, I would have just stayed out of this race and started running on Nov. 9th."

Image credit: Florida Democratic Party

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy



After a lackluster fundraising quarter and an expensive primary, Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign entered October with about $2.8 million in the bank -- less than half of the $5.7 million in campaign cash Republican incumbent Marco Rubio had.

That new detail and others regarding Murphy's and Rubio's campaign finances were revealed in their third-quarter disclosure reports, which were filed with the Federal Election Commission late last week. Because Senate candidates first file paper copies with the Secretary of the Senate's office, there is a lag of several days before the reports become publicly available through the FEC.

Both campaigns had declined repeated requests for their cash-on-hand figures, opting to let their quarterly reports speak for themselves. That was the first time they'd done that all cycle; previously, they revealed their cash on hand simultaneously with how much they'd raised during the filing period.

Also revealed in the newly filed disclosures: Murphy spent more than twice as much as he brought in between July and September -- the bulk of it ($4.2 million) going out in the first part of the quarter during his contentious Aug. 30 primary race against fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Continue reading "Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy" »

Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad



Taking a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is elevating attacks on his opponent by using words from Donald Trump's own mouth.

In a new ad Murphy's campaign will release Thursday morning, the Jupiter congressman further publicizes Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's continued support for the Republican presidential nominee by juxtaposing a couple of Trump's lewd comments from the 2005 Access Hollywood video with a clip of Rubio this summer saying, "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election."

MORE: Murphy looks to gain edge over Rubio using Trump video, but will it be enough?

Murphy also uses the ad as an opportunity to plug recent endorsements he's gotten from the editorial boards of Florida's largest newspapers, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

Watch the ad below:

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad" »

October 19, 2016

Patrick Murphy plans Tallahassee fundraiser for Oct. 30


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will be in Tallahassee at the end of the month for a fundraiser hosted by some prominent names in Florida's capital city 10 days before Election Day.

The host committee for the Oct. 30 afternoon event includes Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and attorney Ben Crump (who gained national attention while representing Trayvon Martin's family in the 2012 case against George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed the black teenager).

The event is scheduled to be held at Crump's law office, Parks & Crump. Crump's law partner Daryl Parks is also on the host committee, although his name is misspelled on the invitation.

Donations to attend range from $25 for guests to $500 for hosts, according to an email invitation Murphy's campaign sent out Wednesday afternoon.

View the invitation here.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

Republicans accuse Patrick Murphy of U.S. House ethics violation over 2014 oppo book

Campaign 2016 Florida (3) (2)


The Republican Party of Florida's executive director alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy violated House ethics rules because a recently leaked opposition research report that Murphy’s 2014 congressional campaign commissioned on the candidate himself says it was done "in collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office."

Federal law and House ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from using official congressional resources for campaign or political purposes. Murphy has been in Congress since 2013.

RPOF executive director George Riley signed off on an official complaint, which says it was emailed to the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the political committee that seeks to elect Senate Republicans, like incumbent Marco Rubio -- distributed Riley's letter Wednesday morning.

Read the letter here.

Last week, Buzzfeed reported on the contents of the opposition research report, which it obtained from a Republican source. Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign did not dispute the validity of the 400-page document. Such reports are commonplace for campaigns, offering insight about vulnerabilities (and strengths) into a candidate's personal and professional record so that the campaign can prepare ways to defend (or highlight) that history.

"This admitted 'collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office' provides clear evidence that Murphy's office 'collaborated' with the campaign in preparing this document," Riley wrote in his complaint. "At a minimum, it provides both a 'reasonable basis' and 'probable cause' to believe that Murphy improperly used official resources for campaign purposes, justifying further investigation by OCE."

Aside from requesting that OCE "fully investigate Representative Murphy's use of official resources" for the vulnerability study "and for any other campaign purpose," Riley also asked that OCE "refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice for further review, as appropriate."

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement in response to the complaint: "Marco Rubio's special interest allies seem to file false attacks like this every week. This is nothing more than a frivolous waste of taxpayer resources in an attempt to benefit Marco Rubio and his endless political ambition."

The leak of the 2014 opposition research, and subsequent filing of an ethics complaint, indicates national and state Republicans remain worried about Murphy's chances of unseating Rubio in November. (Although national Democrats seem to feel differently since, as recently as this week, they've withdrawn millions of dollars in ad support intended for Murphy.)

Despite Murphy struggling in September against Rubio, he's had a somewhat stronger October -- thanks, in large part, to the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump and Rubio's decision to still stand by the Republican presidential nominee.

This is at least the second ethics complaint filed against Murphy this cycle. This summer, a Democratic progressive blogger who supported Murphy's primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, filed an ethics complaint over Murphy's ties to political donors who benefit from a immigration visa program Murphy has supported. No public decisions have been announced as to the state of that complaint.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.