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 senatorwithguts.com.

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.”

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.