How does a millionaire's kid lacking credentials or accomplishment launch a political career virtually overnight? In Patrick Murphy's case, easy.
All Murphy had to do is make political donations in tandem with his wealthy Saudi Arabian friend Ibrahim al-Rashid, and al-Rashid's equally wealthy family, and buy his way into the hearts and minds of Florida Democratic hierarchy, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Al-Rashid, son of a Saudi billionaire and Murphy's friend since prep school in New Jersey, is accused of orchestrating an illegal straw donor scheme. He was one of the largest donors when Murphy announced his 2011 congressional run, contributing thousands directly to his campaign and more to super PACs supporting him.
Mind you, the friendship has grown a little sticky these days. Murphy needs to spotlight a lily-white reputation in his run for U.S. Senate and keeps his distance. Not only is the straw donor scheme under investigation, but Murphy was forced to give up $16,000 of al-Rashid’s donations when the Saudi was found guilty of beating his wife, Morgan Budman. Budman worked on Murphy’s first campaign.
We've reported on al-Rashid's connection to Patrick Murphy before. But this is the first we've seen of the donation scheme that started as long ago as five-plus years to keep Murphy climbing the ladder to candidacy.
Campaign finance records bear out allegations of the tandem donations to prominent Florida Democrats whose support Murphy needed to launch his political career. Brent Scher's story, "Patrick Murphy used Saudi donor network to gain favor," lays it all out in Thursday's Washington Free Beacon.
Scher reported that large donations to Florida Democrats occurred early in 2011, after Murphy hired a political consultant to map out a congressional run.
Here's how the contributions flowed to prominent Dems:
- Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, 2011: Murphy and his father each contributed $2,400 to Democratic Sen. Nelson. Budman, al-Rashid’s wife, made an identical $2,400 contribution to Nelson on Jan. 20, with “homemaker” listed as her occupation on the report.
- Jan. 27, one week later: Murphy and his father each contributed $4,800 to Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, D. Al-Rashid and Budman made identical $4,800 contributions to Deutch that same day.
- Feb.2, the very next week: Murphy contributed $4,800 to Wasserman Schultz, D. Al-Rashid and Budman also donated the maximum to Wasserman Schultz that day.
- Wasserman Schultz benefited from additional $2,400 contributions from al-Rashid’s two brothers, Mohammed al-Rashid of Los Angeles, Calif. and Salman al-Rashid of Austin, Texas.
In a single week in February, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said "thank you very much" to $30,000 from Ibraham al-Rashid, $3,500 from Mohammed al-Rashid, $2,500 from Salmon al-Rashid, and $2,000 from Murphy.
OK, Murphy wanted to be a candidate Democrat leadership would support. But what did al-Rashid expect to get from the arrangement? The Free Beacon points out that Al-Rashid's billionaire father has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), which filed the straw donor complaint now being reviewed by the Federal Election Committee, said in a statement to the Free Beacon that "the coordinated donations are further evidence that Murphy was aware of al-Rashid’s straw donor operation.
“Patrick Murphy may try and separate himself from the apparent straw donor scheme that helped launch his political career, but this new revelation seems to show he was 100 percent involved with that political money laundering scam,” said Ian Prior, a spokesman for SLF.
The complaint identified a number of donors in Pennsylvania who were related to al-Rashid through Budman who made large contributions to Murphy and former Gov. Charlie Crist on nearly identical dates as al-Rashid himself.
The Free Beacon also points out large contributions to Murphy and Crist from a woman who was listed as a “property manager” but has since been identified as Ibrahim al-Rashid’s “cleaning lady.”
Murphy’s spending to law firms that specialize in congressional investigations spiked following the FEC complaint, though the exact reason for the increase remains unclear.
Scher said Budman left al-Rashid in February 2014 after she told police that he “grabbed her by the wrist, struck her about the head and face with a closed fist then threw her to the ground” during an altercation at their Miami home.
The Murphy campaign did not respond to Scher's request for comment on the donations. Nor were attempts to reach Budman and members of her family successful.
I don't know whether Murphy has done anything actionable. Maybe, maybe not. That isn't why I've written this. All I want to do is show voters there is a disturbing pattern to this man's behavior on the way from there to here.
Look closely. This is a spoiled rich kid who really did need to embellish his resume, because he'd done precious little in his life except what his parents' and friends' money could buy. He also has done nothing -- and I do mean nothing -- to distinguish himself as a congressman in the House. Yet, now he wants to represent Florida in the United States Senate. Really. Think about that.