The Federal Election Commission reportedly has started a preliminary review of a complaint from a conservative super PAC that alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy accepted illegal contributions through a "straw donor scheme" in 2011.
In June, the Senate Leadership Fund alleged Murphy was part of such a scheme because similar donations went to both him and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, himself a U.S. Senate candidate six years ago.
According to The Hill, the FEC notified Murphy's campaign in early July that the Senate Leadership Fund's complaint against Murphy was "a matter under review" -- what the Washington, D.C. newspaper described as "a routine first step in the examination of any potential campaign finance violation."
Murphy's campaign has consistently called the Senate Leadership Fund's complaint "frivolous," and spokesman Joshua Karp told The Hill that "we expect the FEC to dismiss it in short order."
Between July and early August, Murphy's campaign averaged, $1,288 in legal expenses, or $52,800 over a six-week period. When the Herald/Times first reported that figure, Karp described it as run-of-the mill costs for a blossoming campaign -- even though other Democratic Senate candidates in similarly competitive and intensifying contests didn't spend anything close to Murphy on their legal fees in recent months. The Senate Leadeship Fund asserted that Murphy's increased legal expenses were a result of the complaint the group had filed.
The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Murphy has been one of the group's primary targets this cycle, as Florida's seat could decide control of the Senate next year. Murphy faces Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in November.
Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald