October 21, 2016

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

Murphy_1stdebate_1017_ap@ByKristenMClark

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

@ByKristenMClark

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."

Unnamed

“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

Rubiomurphy3_1stdebate_1017_ap

@ByKristenMClark

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

Capture

@ByKristenMClark

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

Murphy_1stdebate_1017_ap@ByKristenMClark

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)

@ByKristenMClark

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.

President Obama speaks Spanish in new ad for Patrick Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

While national Democratic groups are all-but abandoning Patrick Murphy to fend for himself in Florida's U.S. Senate race, the party's figurehead isn't.

President Barack Obama cut another ad for the two-term Jupiter congressman -- this one in Spanish.

In the new 30-second spot, Obama said Murphy "will fight for immigration reform, better education, and higher wages."

"Go out and vote for Patrick. Your vote is very important," he added.

Of the eight general election ads Murphy's campaign has released to date, this is the first one that doesn't also simultaneously attack, or even mention, his opponent: Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy's campaign said the ad will air in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami as part of an existing million-dollar ad buy.

This is the latest example of Murphy's aggressive and noticeable efforts to improve his appeal among Hispanic voters since late September. Rubio, a Cuban-American who's fluent in Spanish, has polled stronger among that demographic, aside from leading Murphy in every poll for months. (Recent overall polls have shown the two candidates closer, which has narrowed Rubio's average advantage to 4.2 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics.) 

Obama -- and Vice President Joe Biden -- endorsed Murphy in the spring. Obama did both radio and TV ads for Murphy over the summer when he was still in a contested primary against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Image credit: Patrick Murphy campaign / YouTube

As they debate respect for women, Rubio aims to make old photo haunt Murphy

Murphy girlfriend pic

@ByKristenMClark & @TMarreroTimes

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has hammered Marco Rubio for weeks on women’s issues, whether it be the Republican incumbent’s opposition to abortion or his continued allegiance to Donald Trump.

After Murphy persisted on that line of attack for the better part of Monday night’s U.S. Senate debate in Orlando, Rubio had had enough.

And he lowered the boom on his challenger — so abruptly it left Murphy temporarily rattled in search of a response.

The weapon: An old photo of a fresh-faced Patrick Murphy sitting at a table with one arm around a woman and a few fingers of his other hand apparently grabbing at her breast.

More here.

Photo credit: In this undated photo from several years ago, current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy appears to be grabbing at the breast of a woman who he says was his then-girlfriend. Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio referenced the photo during the candidates’ first Senate debate Monday night. Rubio’s campaign provided the image, with the woman’s face blocked out. (Provided by Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign)

October 18, 2016

Murphy elaborates on old Facebook photo Rubio brought up in debate

Campaign 2016 Florida (3)

via @TMarreroTimes

TAMPA -- The Facebook photo has been circulating for weeks among GOP circles: a fresh-faced Patrick Murphy sitting at a table with one arm around a woman and a few fingers of his other hand apparently on her breast.

During Monday night's debate, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tried to use the photo as a weapon against Murphy, a Democratic U.S. House member running to unseat the West Miami Republican.

Murphy has criticized Rubio for his support for Donald Trump, especially after allegations about Trump's treatment of women. In the latter half of the debate, Rubio turned the tables and referenced Murphy's photo, calling it "inappropriate behavior." Murphy appeared flustered.

On Tuesday, Murphy, 33, dismissed the photo as an artifact from his early 20s and said Rubio's attempts to use it against him were "low" and "desperate."

"Look, when Donald Trump goes low, Marco Rubio goes lower," Murphy told reporters after a campaign event in West Tampa. "This is a picture with my girlfriend from my 20s, a college girlfriend. I dated her for four years, and we were at dinner."

Murphy graduated from the University of Miami in 2006. He first ran for the U.S. House in 2011, winning his Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast seat in the 2012 election.

"Look, Marco Rubio showed just how desperate he was last night by trying to wiggle, and got himself in this knot about Donald Trump," Murphy said. "He's trying to pivot and change the subject. It was very clear to me how uncomfortable Marco Rubio was when talking about Donald Trump and someone who's bragging about sexually assaulting women. It's unbelievable to me."

Asked later to elaborate on the date and circumstances of the photo, a Murphy spokesman said the campaign would let the congressman's words stand on their own.

Continue reading "Murphy elaborates on old Facebook photo Rubio brought up in debate" »