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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Alan Grayson: Patrick Murphy should return donations from Dade Medical College CEO



The controversy of the now-shuttered Dade Medical College and its embattled CEO has seeped into Florida's heated Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, of Orlando, is calling on his opponent -- U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, of Jupiter -- to return campaign contributions he'd received from the school's majority owner, Ernesto Perez and his wife, Sylvia.

Ernesto Perez was arrested this week and is facing charges of bundling illegal campaign contributions. The school abruptly closed Friday, amid heightened federal scrutiny and mounting debts.

"How many students in Patrick Murphy's district are wondering what happened to their tuition and what will become of their future?" Grayson said in a campaign statement. "Patrick Murphy gobbled up dirty money from a corrupt college and he apparently has no concern about the disaster it left behind."

Dade Medical College had six campuses, stretching from Homestead to Jacksonville, including one in West Palm Beach (near Murphy's Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast district).

Murphy's campaign declined to comment on Grayson's remarks or the donations Murphy received from Perez.

Perez developed relationships with politicians at all levels of government, so campaign contributions were not at all an uncommon occurrence for him.

Federal Election Commission records show Perez gave Murphy's 2012 re-election campaign $1,000, and his wife, Sylvia, gave $5,400 -- the maximum -- in 2013 for Murphy's 2014 re-election bid.

Those contributions are among tens of thousands of dollars in donations the couple has given over the years to federal candidates on both sides of the aisle. The list includes hefty donations to several other prominent Florida Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, of West Palm Beach, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, who's also the Democratic National Committee chairwoman.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2015 3:29pm]


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