A investigative report from CBS Miami into two-term Democratic representative Patrick Murphy—who is running to take Senator Marco Rubio’s seat from the Republican Party—has cast significant doubt on Murphy’s repeated claims that he worked as a Certified Public Accountant and owned his own business. According to the report, however, Murphy never actually worked as a CPA, and his father bought the company that he only briefly worked for, and claimed to own.
Murphy has repeatedly touted his experience on the campaign trail. In 2012, when he ran to unseat Tea Party darling Allen West, he said “I believe that my background as a CPA and a small business owner is exactly what we need to put our country back on track.” Two years later, during his campaign for re-election, Murphy reiterated the claim as a reason why voters should trust him. “I would say my background as a CPA,” he said at a debate, “also being a small business owner—you know, someone that can relate to those concerns of small business owners I think is particularly important.”
The story is long and complicated, and the Murphy campaign has already put out an extensive statement disputing a number of the outlet’s claims, noting that seven changes have been made to the piece since it was first published. The bulk of CBS’ reporting appears to stand, however, and remains—if not completely damning—at least very uncomfortable. For example: Murphy does hold a CPA license, but it is only valid in Colorado—where he never lived or worked—and not Florida, because he did not meet Florida’s requirements.
Meanwhile, much of the support that Murphy has received from his father, Thomas Murphy, a wealthy real estate developer, is already a matter of public record. The year that Patrick announced his run for Congress, Thomas gave more than $100,000 to individual Democrats and party organizations whose endorsements his son would need. (Murphy was a registered Republican for many years before running for Congress in 2012 as a Democrat.) From CBS:
Thomas Murphy ended up contributing more than $550,000 to PACs and committees supporting Patrick’s 2012 congressional campaign.
And federal records reveal he has given close to $300,000 for this year’s Senate race.
Wednesday afternoon, Thomas Murphy issued a statement: “Like any father, I’ve always supported my three sons and their endeavors. When Patrick told me he wanted to run for Congress, I was surprised. However I admire his drive and determination and I am extremely proud of all the good he has done. He will make a fine senator and I will be there to support him in any way possible.”
But that support, according to CBS, also included acquiring the small business of which Murphy later claimed to be the owner, when in fact he was installed as vice president—for no more than five months. Murphy acknowledged that the company, Coastal Environment, was “affiliated” with his father’s business, Coastal Construction, but apparently never disclosed just how closely affiliated they are. CBS acquired incorporation papers detailing the acquisition:
Patrick Murphy’s father, Thomas Murphy, Jr., is the chairman and CEO of Coastal Construction and a director of Coastal Environmental.
Daniel Whiteman is not just President of Coastal Environmental; his primary role is vice chairman of Coastal Construction.
The corporate address for Coastal Environmental is the same as Coastal Construction.
It would appear that rather than start a small business that did work in the Gulf, Murphy, with the support of his father and Coastal Construction, acquired a business that was already doing the work. (Thomas Murphy did not return calls seeking his comment for this story.)
Murphy didn’t just embellish his professional record: He also embellished his academic record. As the Miami Herald reported last month, Murphy claimed on both his official congressional website and on his campaign website to have earned “degrees in accounting and finance” from the University of Miami. In fact, he earned one degree: a bachelor’s in business administration, and he was a double major in accounting and finance.