Grayson slams Murphy for vote to authorize House Benghazi committee


Rep. Alan Grayson accused his Democratic Senate primary rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy, of aiding and abetting a Republican “witch hunt” of Hillary Clinton by voting last year to create a House select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

But Clinton, known for her long memory of political slights, didn’t seem to hold Murphy’s vote against him. When Murphy attended a fundraiser for Clinton in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, the Democratic presidential front-runner recognized Murphy and told donors she is “so proud of him.”

Orlando liberal Grayson regularly reminds Democratic primary voters that the more moderate Murphy, from Jupiter, is a former Republican who became a Democrat in 2011. With Clinton visiting South Florida for fundraisers and a rally on Friday, Grayson organized a conference call with reporters to highlight the 2014 House vote to create the Benghazi panel, which will hear testimony from former Secretary of State Clinton this month.

Murphy was one of only seven Democrats to vote for the committee, which had unanimous GOP support.

Democrats argued at the time that Republicans were setting up the panel to attack Clinton. And Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gift-wrapped a talking point for Democrats last week when he boasted to Fox News that Clinton’s poll numbers are dropping because of the Benghazi committee.

When he voted to create the committee in 2014, Murphy’s office said he “sincerely hopes that this committee is not used as a way to politicize this tragedy and the deaths of four Americans.”

After McCarthy’s comments to Fox News, Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said it was obvious Republicans had “hijacked the committee for partisan gain. The House GOP should immediately shut down the committee.”

Murphy — whose 2014 House re-election bid got a public boost from Bill Clinton — attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon at the home of Mitchell Berger in Fort Lauderdale. During her remarks, Clinton recognized elected officials in the room and mentioned “Patrick Murphy, who is running so hard and working so hard and I’m so proud of him,” according to an audio tape provided by Murphy’s campaign.

Murphy has endorsed Clinton’s presidential bid. Grayson hasn’t made an endorsement and has praised Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden.

Creating a sense of urgency is a key to political fundraising. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, is unlikely to face any serious Republican challenge in 2016, but he raised more than $600,000 in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, in part by reminding donors that his Palm Beach-Broward District 21 could be dramatically changed by a judge who’s redrawing Florida’s congressional map.

“I am serious when I say I need your help. Click here to contribute now,” said one Deutch email to supporters last month. “No matter what, I will need to introduce myself to hundreds of thousands of new voters and I cannot do that without you.”

Several of the redistricting plans before Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis would put Deutch and Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, in the same district. The two have pledged not to run against each other — but if District 21 becomes an entirely Palm Beach County seat, the big question is which incumbent will run there and which one will run in what’s expected to be a Broward-dominated seat.

Deutch and Frankel, who were together at Saturday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party fundraising dinner, said they’ll work it out once the map is final and Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, has exhausted expected legal challenges.

“The politics will work itself out,” Deutch said.

“When Corrine finally waves a white flag, if she does, Ted and I will finally sit down,” Frankel said.

Alex Freeman, the retired Riviera Beach Police major who is challenging Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in the nonpartisan 2016 sheriff’s race, will speak to tea party groups today and Tuesday. Freeman and Bradshaw are both registered Democrats, and Freeman has done much of his campaigning before Democratic audiences. He said the conservative tea party invited him because of his pledge to bring greater “transparency” to the sheriff’s office and its budget process.


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