Federal Election Commissioners couldn’t agree on whether to investigate allegations of illegal campaign activity in 2016 by then-U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, so the case is closed.
Though a Democrat, Murphy was spared further investigation by the two Republicans on the commission, who blocked further inquiry into the allegations. The two Democratic commissioners said there was reason to believe that Murphy, his political committee, his father, Senate Majority PAC and Murphy’s treasurer violated federal election statutes.
The 2-2 decision was reached on Feb. 6. It takes four votes of the commission to proceed, and there are two vacancies that President Donald Trump has yet to fill.
In 2016, the conservative group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust accused Murphy of illegally coordinating with Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, a Super PAC that supported his campaign for U.S. Senate. It cited the Super PACs overwhelming financial support from Murphy’s family business, Coastal Construction Group, where his father Thomas Murphy is CEO.
The group also alleged that Murphy posted coded messages on his campaign website that signaled to outside groups when to advertise, in what markets, and what the message should say.
Matthew Whitaker, until recently the acting U.S. attorney general, was the executive director of the organization at the time of original complaint. Murphy’s Democratic primary opponent, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, made similar allegations in a complaint to federal election officials.
Candidates are prohibited from coordinating with Super PACs, which are political committees that can raise unlimited sums of money. Murphy denied the accusations during the campaign. He ultimately lost the race to incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.