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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Alan Grayson should donate 'African slave labor profits,' opponent says

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's campaign says his primary opponent Alan Grayson should donate to charity any profits Grayson or his children made from previous investments in a company that operated in Eritrea -- an east African country whose government leaders, a United Nations commission now says, have committed "crimes against humanity."

Bloomberg Politics reported back in February that Grayson's children invested in -- and profited from -- a Canadian company called Nevsun that operates a gold and copper mine in Eritrea. The country is accused of using "forced labor via the national service program to help build the mine," Bloomberg reported.

Grayson told Bloomberg at the time: "I didn’t know, I couldn’t have known, and I did nothing wrong, nor did my children" and that "if I had known, then I would have divested." (The family ultimately did divest from Nevsun.)

Nonetheless, Murphy's campaign chastised Grayson then for the investment and renewed its call Thursday for Grayson to donate the money his family made.

Why now?

On Wednesday, a United Nations commission of inquiry said it found Eritrea's top political and military leaders "have committed and continue to commit" crimes including enslavement, imprisonment and disappearances, torture, rape and murder," The New York Times reported.

The newspaper wrote: "One of the most egregious offenses, the United Nation commission found, was the forced conscription of young people in a never-ending national service program that has driven thousands of young Eritreans to flee, many to Europe."

The Eritrean government denounced the report, saying it was deeply flawed and unsupported by evidence, the Times reported.

"While it’s barely a surprise to those who know his character, it is truly unconscionable that Alan Grayson refuses to donate this money to charity," Murphy campaign manager Josh Wolf said in a statement. "If Congressman Grayson has any sense of decency, he will donate every penny of his profit from the suffering of innocent people."

Bloomberg said it's unclear how much Grayson's family made from its investments. When asked by the Herald/Times for a response to Murphy's appeal, Grayson's campaign didn't specifically address it; his campaign manager, Michael Ceraso, said "once more Patrick Murphy is trying to distract voters."

"Rep. Grayson has a strong record of professional and legislative accomplishments, and nothing to hide," Ceraso said. "Rep. Grayson will fight to expand Social Security, Medicare and the minimum wage. That's what voters really care about."

Grayson and Murphy -- both U.S. congressmen -- and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith are running in the Aug. 30 primary in the race for Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2016 5:07pm]


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