A conservative political group says U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy should "resign in disgrace immediately" in the wake of recent reports by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times that highlighted inconsistencies in the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate's résumé.
The Better Florida Alliance said Thursday it plans to launch an ad campaign -- both online and through direct mail -- "to inform every single Florida voter about Congressman Murphy's academic fraud and résumé padding."
Last week, the Herald/Times reported that Murphy had exaggerated his academic credentials in recent years by saying he had "dual degrees" from the University of Miami, when he actually earned a single bachelor's degree with two majors. (His U.S. Senate campaign called the discrepancy an "inadvertent error.")
The Tampa Bay Times also reported that Murphy's claim to have spent “six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading cleanup efforts" after the 2010 BP oil spill contradicts with a timeline Murphy's Senate campaign provided to account for those months.
“Most of us earned our high school diplomas, our trade certifications, our college degrees. Some of us work hard and earn a living without any of those things, we don’t have to lie about it, we just work hard,” Better Florida Alliance spokesman Brian Burgess said in a statement.
“That’s why it’s disgusting that Congressman Murphy thinks he can get away with lying about earning college degrees in accounting and finance, and lying about cleaning up the BP oil spill, none of which he actually did," Burgess said.
Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said the "shady, Republican" Better Florida Alliance "is once again distorting the truth."
"These attacks are simply false," she said in a campaign statement. "Until this secretive attack-dog group comes clean with voters and discloses its donors, Florida voters know they can't trust a word they hear."
The Better Florida Alliance is a 501(c)4 political nonprofit, a "dark money" group that doesn't have to reveal its donors. It was set up last fall by two Tallahassee-based consultants who formerly worked for Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The ads Better Florida Alliance says it will release aren't available yet, but the group said it plans to liken Murphy to high-profile CEO's and other public figures who were fired or resigned after lying about their credentials.
Murphy, who lives in Jupiter, was first elected to Congress in 2012 and re-elected in 2014.
Murphy is viewed as a front-runner in the competitive and nationally-watched race to replace Marco Rubio. In recent months, Better Florida Alliance has targeted both Murphy and fellow Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson, of Orlando.
Murphy and Grayson are running in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, as is Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith.