September 16, 2016

Murphy, Rubio debate gun reform 3 months after Orlando shooting

Rubio murphy


Three months after the Orlando shooting massacre, how best to reform America’s gun laws and better thwart suspected terrorists’ efforts to buy firearms has become an issue of sharp contrast between the two candidates running in Florida’s highly competitive and nationally watched U.S. Senate race.

Gun control reform became a prominent topic this week between Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, as each candidate seeks to better define himself — and his opponent — for Florida voters.

Earlier this week, Murphy used an endorsement he got from the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, an LGBT gun-reform group founded after the Orlando shooting, as an opportunity to strike a contrast with Rubio’s defense of gun rights.

Then on Thursday, their differences boiled over after Rubio introduced his own Orlando-inspired gun reform proposal in the Senate.

More here.

Photo credit: AP / The Palm Beach Post

NRSC repeats specific attacks on Murphy's resume that Politifact rated "Mostly False"



The National Republican Senatorial Committee is out with yet another ad criticizing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for embellishing his résumé.

The ad's message mirrors one the Senate Republicans' campaign committee released last week, which included specific claims that Politifact rated "Mostly False."

The ad cites a CBS4 Miami report from June as its source to say that Murphy "never" worked as a CPA or "never" was a small business owner.

Murphy's explanation of what he did in those roles has evolved since last spring, after the media started vetting his résumé. But while he might have oversold his credentials, Politifact found: "In both cases, the word 'never' is too extreme to characterize Murphy’s work experience."

Murphy's campaign has repeatedly pushed back on Republicans' attacks over the Jupiter congressman's résumé, saying they've been "discredited."

"All the NRSC has 'revealed' in this ad is repeated lies, which have been rated 'mostly false' by PolitiFact, a respected, independent fact-checker," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement. "After Marco Rubio abandoned Florida to pursue his own political ambition, it's clear that Rubio and his special interest allies have nothing but lies to run on."

But the nuances of Murphy's résumé are not as black-and-white as either side likes to portray it. Learn more here from Politifact about the extent of Murphy's CPA and small business experience.

Meanwhile, this week, Politifact also rated "Mostly True" a claim in an ad from Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, which said Murphy had embellished his academic credentials from the University of Miami.

Here's the new NRSC ad:

Image credit: NRSC / YouTube

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

September 15, 2016

Connecticut U.S. senator uses Twitter to attack Rubio, defend Murphy

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One of the U.S. Senate's leading Democratic voices in favor of gun-control reform -- and an early supporter of Florida U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy -- unleashed a bit of a Tweet storm Thursday afternoon in response to a new bill introduced earlier in the day by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio's U.S. Senate office touted his "Terror Intelligence Improvement Act" as a bill that "would make it harder for suspected terrorists to purchase firearms and easier for law enforcement agencies to go after suspected terrorists, while safeguarding law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment and due process rights." (More here.)

But in one of a handful of tweets, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy -- no relation to Patrick Murphy -- said: "This bill won't stop one terrorist from getting a gun. This is a rehash of the gun lobby's proposal."

Less than an hour after Chris Murphy's tweets, Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign released a lengthy statement from Chris Murphy with a message to the same effect.

Chris Murphy famously filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours in June in support of gun reform after the Orlando shooting.

Patrick Murphy and his campaign earlier Thursday were also quick to criticize Rubio for both the timing and content of his new bill.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

*We have asked Rubio's campaign for comment and will update this post when they respond.

Murphy criticizes timing of Rubio's bill to thwart suspected terrorists from buying guns



Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says Sen. Marco Rubio's introduction of a bill this morning to make it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns is "an embarrassment" and smacks of political opportunism.

Rubio -- the Republican incumbent seeking re-election this fall against Murphy's challenge -- today offered what he's named the "Terror Intelligence Improvement Act" in reaction to the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub three months ago.

In a statement through his Senate office, Rubio said the bill is "another step toward fulfilling my promise" to Fred and Maria Wright, whose son, Jerry, was killed in the shooting.

"The Wrights made a simple request: that we improve our laws so it is more difficult for evil people to get ahold of guns," Rubio said. "I told them I would continue working toward consensus on common-sense measures that would help ensure criminals, terrorists and others seeking to take innocent lives are not able to acquire firearms."

He said his legislation "builds on some of the best ideas that have been proposed and improves them in ways that I hope will make a bipartisan solution more likely."

"This bill would achieve everyone’s goal of making it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns, and do so without violating the due process and Second Amendment rights of innocent, law-abiding Americans," Rubio said.

Among its various provisions, Rubio's bill calls for requiring that the FBI director and the Joint Terrorism Task Force be immediately notified of requests to transfer a firearm to someone who was investigated for terrorism within the last 10 years. It also allows the U.S. Attorney General to delay a firearms' purchase for up to three days and file an emergency court petition if someone previously investigated for terrorism tries to buy a gun.

MORE: Read the bill.

But Murphy, in a campaign statement, was quick to criticize Rubio's introduction of the bill as a "transparent attempt to paper over his relentless opposition to legislation that prevents gun violence."

Continue reading "Murphy criticizes timing of Rubio's bill to thwart suspected terrorists from buying guns" »

September 14, 2016

Competing demands crowd Zika money



WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy



Democrats launch fall ad campaign by alleging Marco Rubio 'weakened us'



National Democrats are kicking off their fall ad campaign with vigor on Wednesday, with the debut of an attack ad on Marco Rubio over Social Security and Medicare.

The 30-second spot from two liberal super PACs -- the Senate Majority PAC and AFSCME PEOPLE -- is part of a multi-million-dollar effort between the groups to support Rubio's challenger, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

AFSCME PEOPLE, the political arm of the national government workers union, is pouring $1.8 million into the ad campaign. For the Democrats' Senate Majority PAC, the ad represents the kick-off of $10 million in reserved ad time the group has planned before Election Day.

Murphy debuted his first general election TV ad last week -- a positive-sounding attack ad against Rubio's Senate attendance record -- but until now, by comparison, Rubio and Republican groups backing him have been more prominent on Florida airwaves attacking Murphy.

Using Rubio's own words against him, the joint Senate Majority PAC / AFSCME PEOPLE ad argues Rubio has "weakened us" because of his desire "to cut Social Security and Medicare."

The ad accuses Rubio of taking "almost $1 million from the insurance industry, which would profit from his privatization plans" for the two federal entitlement programs.

"Marco Rubio’s reckless plans for Social Security and Medicare might be great for his campaign contributors, but they’re wrong for Florida," Shripal Shah, spokesman for Senate Majority PAC, said in a statement.


Rubio's campaign defended the senator's position on entitlement programs and criticized Murphy's alliance with AFSCME.

"Marco's own mother relies on Social Security as her sole source of income. Marco would never do anything to hurt his mother or the millions of Florida seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare, and he'll continue to fight to strengthen the programs for future generations," Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement.

Image credit: Senate Majority PAC/AFSCME PEOPLE / YouTube

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

September 13, 2016

Groups bash Marco Rubio for 'selling out' on Puerto Rican aid



A coalition of liberal groups have released a Spanish-language radio ad and two digital ads to criticize incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for not supporting aid to Puerto Rico last year and, instead, for "selling out" to a "billionaire donor."

Officials from the Florida Education Association, Organize Now and VAMOS4PR announced the ad campaign Tuesday.

"When Puerto Rico needed leadership the most to help resolve the humanitarian crisis, Marco Rubio broke his promise and shamefully put his billionaire campaign contributors’ harmful agenda first," FEA President Joanne McCall said.

The groups base their attack on a New York Times article from December. It said that Rubio initially wanted to sponsor bankruptcy legislation for Puerto Rico but then changed his mind "three weeks after a fund-raiser hosted by a hedge-fund founder."

The Times reported: "Mr. Rubio’s move was welcome news for bondholders, some of whom have supported his presidential campaign." A Rubio spokesman told the newspaper at the time that Rubio's position on the legislation was unrelated to campaign donations he received.

AFT Solidarity -- the political action committee for the American Federation of Teachers -- spent $135,000 on the ad campaign, according to an independent expenditure report filed with the Federal Election Commission today. AFT Solidarity said in a statement that 1 million Puerto Ricans in Florida have family on the island.

Both the FEA and the AFT previously endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, who's challenging Rubio in November.

"Unfortunately AFT suffers from the Patrick Murphy syndrome of being out of touch with Florida's families," Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement. "Marco's record of service speaks for itself -- from leading efforts to help Puerto Rico out of its financial crisis, to awarding the Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal, and making student loans more affordable."

You can listen to AFT's radio ad here, and here are the two digital ads that AFT Solidarity will run online:

Continue reading "Groups bash Marco Rubio for 'selling out' on Puerto Rican aid" »

LGBT gun-control group endorses Patrick Murphy

Murphy primary nite 4 - richard graulich pbp


The political action committee that formed in the wake of the Orlando shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub is endorsing Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida's U.S. Senate race.

Jason Lindsay, executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, said Murphy supports the kind of "common-sense" gun regulations Americans -- including a majority of gun owners -- want.

"I firmly believe the types and legality of the weapons that I carried on the streets of Baghdad don’t belong on the streets of America," said Lindsay, who said he is an Iraq War veteran who served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

On a conference call with reporters this morning, Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, said Congress should pass expanded background checks and close what's known as the "terrorist loophole," which allows individuals suspected to be terrorists to purchase guns. A measure to close the loophole failed in June after the Orlando shooting.

Murphy and Lindsay both criticized Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for "consistently voting against" gun-control proposals, including after the Pulse shooting.

"He used the tragic shooting in Orlando as reason to run for re-election but yet he’s continued to vote against all common-sense gun safety legislation," Lindsay said.

Murphy also accused Rubio of "pandering to his extreme right-wing base" by not supporting the measures.

Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas defended the senator's support for the Second Amendment and his votes on recent gun bills.

"(Rubio) supports laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families," Perez-Cubas said in a statement. "The tragedy in Orlando was a terrorist attack carried out by a homegrown radical extremist. That's why Marco voted for efforts that would alert the FBI and delay the purchase of weapons for anyone currently on or previously on the terrorist watch list. Ultimately, Marco believes we need to defeat ISIS and confront the radical jihadist ideology leading to the violence we see around the world."

Murphy acknowledged "obviously there’s no guarantees" that Congress would pass gun-control reform if Murphy is elected over Rubio in November.

"But that speaks to the importance of this election and the importance of getting new leadership –- to make sure that Democrats are in the majority," Murphy said. "There's no doubt in my mind if (New York Democratic Sen.) Chuck Schumer is the majority leader, there will be a vote early on to pass common-sense gun measures."

Murphy's conference call was re-scheduled twice Tuesday morning to accommodate Murphy's "vote schedule" in a committee -- a point Murphy and his aides mentioned several times on the call.

It was a way for the campaign to not-so-subtly emphasize Murphy's commitment to his job; Murphy's campaign has repeatedly attacked Rubio for not being a dedicated senator and for having a poor attendance record in the U.S. Senate.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post

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

Florida U.S. Senate candidates' debate over debates continues

Rubio murphy


While U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have agreed to at least two debates, the U.S. Senate candidates are now squabbling over why their opponent won't commit to the same events they've accepted.

Mutual agreement over more events could potentially increase the number of U.S. Senate debates before Election Day, but it seems the candidates are facing an impasse.

Monday evening, Murphy's campaign released a list of three debates and one candidate forum that the Democratic congressman had agreed to. Rubio, meanwhile, released his own list of six debates for which he'd accepted invitations.

The lists only match-up for two debates: one on Oct. 17 in Orlando and another in Davie on Oct. 26. (See below.) Both events take place after absentee ballots will have already started going out to Florida voters.

By this morning, Murphy, the Democratic challenger, and Rubio, the Republican incumbent, had resumed trading barbs -- accusing each other of not really wanting to debate, because they hadn't accepted the same list of events that their opponent committed to.

Murphy's campaign said Rubio had "laughable excuses," while Rubio's campaign said Murphy was "lying" and "hiding behind his donors."

Continue reading "Florida U.S. Senate candidates' debate over debates continues" »

Ad attacks Patrick Murphy for 'fighting for special interests, not us'



A national conservative group funded by the Koch brothers has launched a $1.1 million TV advertising campaign against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy to highlight his support for legislation that some of his prominent donors benefit from.

"Congress should work for us, but Patrick Murphy is hard at work lining the pockets of special interests," begins the 30-second ad from Americans for Prosperity.

It will run across several major media markets in Florida and follows a six-figure direct-mail campaign the group started over the weekend, along with other coordinated efforts against Murphy's campaign. AFP supports Murphy's opponent, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The ad references Murphy's support for expanding the EB-5 visa program -- which has been used, in some cases, to help finance high-profile South Florida projects that have involved Murphy's family construction company and other Murphy campaign donors.

In response to the ad, Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement: "The only thing any Floridian can expect from Patrick is the best public servant he can be."

"This Koch brothers smear is especially ironic given that special interests are funding this attack to keep a senator like Marco Rubio, who votes with their priorities 98 percent of the time, in the U.S. Senate," she said.

Murphy two years ago co-sponsored legislation in the U.S. House to permanently extend the EB-5 visa program, which fast-tracks foreign investors and their immediate family for green cards when they fund projects that create jobs for U.S. workers.

The 2014 legislation died in committee, and Murphy has not co-sponsored a similar measure introduced during this session of Congress.

Meanwhile, the EB-5 visa program has been reauthorized for two decades, with bipartisan support. The permanent extension of it was also included in 2013 immigration reform legislation, which Murphy supported.

The connections between Murphy's support for the legislation and its benefit to Murphy's donors drew a formal complaint in June by a progressive blogger, who filed grievances with the the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Federal Elections Commission.

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