Rep. Stephanie Murphy stresses U.S. manufacturing but tied to sports gear made in China

She invented softball pants that her husband's company has made overseas.
Published Nov. 2, 2017|Updated Nov. 2, 2017

Florida Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy promotes her role on the House Small Business Committee and says she led a bipartisan coalition in favor of policies to "strengthen U.S. manufacturing."

Yet Murphy is an inventor of softball pants that are manufactured in China — and neither she nor her husband's company seems keen to open up about that aspect.

"NuFit Knickers" are sold by a Maitland-based sports apparel company that is run by Murphy's husband and makes other products, including baseball cleats, overseas.

A company spokesman, Josh Pollack, ignored a question about the manufacturing origin of the pants and said 3N2 – which stands for three balls, two strikes — has "multiple manufacturing facilities in the USA and abroad."

He noted in an email Wednesday morning, without specifics, that the company employs "many people right here in Central Florida."

"Given that 97% of the garments sold in the U.S. are made overseas, we are proud of our ability to produce domestically," Pollack wrote.

The Times promptly replied with follow-up questions but an auto-reply said Pollack is away from the office until Nov. 8, and he did not respond.

Similarly, a follow-up email to CEO Sean Murphy has not been not returned as of late Wednesday.

Manufacturing has become a hotter political issue thanks to President Donald Trump, who as a candidate faced questions of hypocrisy as his apparel is made abroad.

Patent records show Stephanie Murphy is an inventor of the $44.99 NuFit Knickers, and on a 2016 financial disclosure form, she reported company compensation in excess of $5,000.

Her House spokesman referred manufacturing questions to the company but noted that in 2013 Murphy, "as a private citizen," was retained as a paid contractor to work on softball pants, "utilizing the skills and expertise Ms. Murphy learned from her mother, who was a seamstress.'

"Ms. Murphy does not receive any royalties related to the patent, and she is not currently employed or contracted by 3N2 in any capacity," spokesman Javier Hernandez wrote in an email. "As 3N2 is a private company, all questions regarding 3N2's operations, including its production processes, should be directed to the company itself."

Murphy, of Winter Park, faces a tough re-election and has stressed bipartisanship, including working on small business issues. An April news release portrayed her as a leader on various issues, including strengthening U.S. manufacturing.

It read:

"[A]long with Republican Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and Democratic Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts, Murphy led a coalition in support of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP). This program, which President Trump has proposed to eliminate, provides vital support to the 12.3 million Americans who work for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies throughout the country, including about 20,000 individuals in Florida's Seventh Congressional District.

"MEP is a national network of non-profit centers that employ industry experts who help manufacturers improve production processes, upgrade technological capabilities, facilitate product innovation, support workforce training, and promote exports. Murphy became a strong supporter of MEP after meeting with local constituents who have benefited tremendously from the program. Murphy helped secure over 100 signatures in support of the coalition's letter from Members of Congress in both parties, which is a strong show of support that should help protect the funding from the president's proposed cuts."