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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

GOP super PAC accuses Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist of 'straw donation scheme'

23

June

A conservative super PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy of orchestrating a "straw donation scheme."

The complaint from the Senate Leadership Fund also names former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, because similar donors gave to Crist's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign as gave to Murphy's first U.S. House race in 2012.

The super PAC bases its accusation on connections that several joint donors to Crist and Murphy have in common with a friend and former classmate of Murphy's: Ibrahim Al-Rashid.

The super PAC has attacked Murphy for weeks over donations he's gotten from the wealthy Al-Rashid, who in 2014 pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge. The revelation of that criminal case prompted Murphy, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and others -- including former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami -- to return or donate substantial contributions they'd gotten from the controversial donor.

The Senate Leadership Fund is milking that narrative further by now alleging Murphy, Crist and a dozen of their donors "appear to be part of a highly suspicious network of contributors" to the two politicians. The super PAC alleges that Al-Rashid used several relatives and friends as "straw donors" to circumvent federal campaign contribution limits in giving donations to Murphy's and Crist's campaigns.

Murphy's campaign said the allegations are "totally false."

"We've lost count, but Republicans should probably spend less time filing these baseless attacks, and more time defending Missing Marco (Rubio), who is already planning to abandon Floridians again and run for President in 2020," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement, referencing the incumbent Republican senator who re-entered the U.S. Senate race yesterday.

The campaign for Crist -- who this year is running as a Democrat for Florida's 13th Congressional District -- had no official reaction, but Crist adviser Kevin Cate said in an email: "Pretty sure the SLF should be spending most of their time rehabbing hands comedian Marco Rubio's image and stopping Donald Trump from talking, but #yolo (you only live once)."

Read the super PAC's complaint here and their supplemental exhibits here.

"Four years ago, Patrick Murphy was able to sneak into Congress with a phony resume and a fraudulent campaign finance operation boosted by his dad’s fortune. But this dumbed-down Frank Underwood wasn’t slick enough to not get caught, and now his house of cards is starting to collapse," said Steven Law, McConnell's former chief of staff and the president of Senate Leadership Fund.

"Whether Murphy disintegrates before the primary or afterwards, we are confident that he won’t be Florida’s next U.S. Senator," Law added.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2016 11:01am]

    

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