The FBI is investigating an alleged illegal contribution scheme involving a Saudi family that backs Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Hill said it found no evidence that Murphy was aware of the alleged use of “straw donors” to steer money to his 2012 campaign for Congress.
But the timing of the news so close to the election comes as Democrats are still angered by FBI director James Comey’s letter to Congress last week about new emails “pertinent” to its earlier investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Murphy, speaking in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, disputed The Hill’s report.
“There’s no sources. There’s nothing in there. The authorities did not even comment on it,” Murphy said. “I haven’t been contacted, nor has my team.”
A Republican Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, filed a complaint in June with the Federal Elections Commission about the same issue. The PAC alleged the scheme also helped Charlie Crist in his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate.
According to the Senate Leadership Fund: “The donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions to Murphy and Crist…(and) contributions were all made on overlapping or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these contributors is a wealthy ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid.
Al-Rashid is a former high-school friend of Murphy’s and the son of a politically connected Saudi billionaire. Al-Rashid has given almost $400,000 to Murphy’s campaigns over the years and to outside groups supporting the Jupiter congressman.
Murphy’s campaign said neither Murphy nor his campaign staff have been contacted by the FBI and point out the Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $13 million helping his opponent, Republican Marco Rubio.
Murphy said, “This is another attempt by the special interest groups, the Republican groups, to try to distract from Senator Rubio’s record. We’re not distracted.”
Staff writer Eliot Kleinberg contributed to this story.