A super PAC that launched last spring to support Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate bid raised $535,000 from donors since July -- including $200,000 from Murphy's father.
The fundraising haul for "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" was revealed today in the super PAC's end-of-year disclosure report to the Federal Elections Commission, which was due Sunday. The super PAC reports its finances every six months.
Through June, the committee had just $25,000 in donations, so its collections in the latter six months of the year reveal a stark increase in activity. Super PACs are not bound by the $2,700 cap on individual contributions -- as candidate's campaign committees are -- nor can they coordinate directly with the candidate.
The super PAC's warchest is separate from the $4.3 million Murphy has in the bank for his personal campaign committee.
Murphy's father, construction executive Thomas Murphy, gave $200,000 to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" just before year's end, the report showed. Thomas Murphy has a history of donating to political candidates in both parties, including his son.
Other large donations detailed in the disclosure report include $100,000 from a "Michael Smith" of Boulder, Co. (his employer information wasn't listed), $50,000 from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama and $50,000 from "230 East 63rd-6 Trust LLC."
According to Florida business registration filings, that company is an "inactive" business venture associated with Nicholas Mastroianni II. Mastroianni developed the $150 million Harbourside project in Patrick Murphy's home city of Jupiter in Palm Beach County. Mastroianni's son, Anthony, also gave $5,000 to the super PAC, the filing showed.
Conservatives aiming to retain the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate quickly jumped on the revelations in the super PAC's disclosure by accusing Murphy's family and friends of "buying him a seat in the Senate."
“Whether it's his father or a mysterious ‘trust’ giving him big money, Murphy is nothing but a campaign finance hypocrite who wants to buy his way up the political ladder,” said Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, which is associated with conservative super PAC American Crossroads.
Murphy is running in the Democratic primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and North Palm Beach attorney Pam Keith.