Monday, June 18, 2018
Business

PolitiFact Florida: Republican group misleads in attack on Patrick Murphy's resume

The statement

Says Patrick Murphy "never worked as a CPA" and was "never a small-business owner."

National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sept. 7 in a TV ad

The ruling

In a TV ad getting plenty of air time locally, the NRSC says it's fact-checking U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy's resume.

Did Murphy distort his work experience?

Murphy did work as a CPA. But he first held a lesser title and then worked as a CPA for less than a year.

Murphy started at Deloitte in Miami 2007 as an "audit assistant." He applied for his CPA license from Colorado in 2009; at the time Colorado required fewer semester credits than Florida. After he obtained the license in September 2009, he was promoted to "audit senior." He left in May 2010.

To get the license, Murphy took a test through the state of Vermont. (The exam is the same everywhere.)

CBS4 reported that Murphy "never worked a day in his life as a Certified Public Accountant." This is a matter of semantics: He did work while a CPA for several months at Deloitte, but he worked in Florida while holding a Colorado CPA license.

Gary McGill, director of the Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida, told PolitiFact Florida that Murphy's path — starting as an audit assistant at Deloitte, taking the CPA test and getting licensed in another state and then being promoted — would have been common.

Many new hires at firms such as Deloitte have not passed the CPA exam. These non-CPA assistants can't sign audit opinions or tax returns; however, they do audit work without having a CPA license from any state, McGill said.

Murphy was promoted to "audit senior" after obtaining his license.

And, Murphy was a small-business owner. But the business was owned by multiple people and grew out of a business owned by his father. The business was Coastal Environmental Services, a company formed to clean up the gulf oil spill. Ultimately the firm only did work in the gulf for a few months.

In 2010, Murphy, his father Thomas P. Murphy Jr. and Dan Whiteman incorporated Coastal Environmental Services. The elder Murphy owns the affiliated Coastal Construction, and Whiteman was listed as the president of both firms.

Annual reports show Patrick Murphy was a director in 2011 and 2012. Once elected to Congress, he remained an owner but no longer a director.

State records don't show if someone is an "owner," and Murphy hasn't said if he financed the firm.

By "owner" Murphy presumably meant that he had an economic interest, University of Florida corporate law professor Stuart Cohn told PolitiFact Florida.

"Records filed with the state do not require listing those who had such an economic interest, whether as a shareholder or otherwise," Cohn said. "So, it is not possible from the state records to determine who owned what economic interests and in what percentages."

The Murphy campaign shared an IRS document with PolitiFact Florida that showed that Murphy, his father and Whiteman were shareholders in 2010. (The campaign blacked out the percentage each owned, as well as the names of three additional shareholders.)

Whiteman told PolitiFact Florida that as vice president Murphy "managed the company's affairs."

Most of Murphy's annual congressional financial disclosures do not mention his position with Coastal Environmental.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com/florida.

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