Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) is returning money he received from a fundraiser with a Boston law firm.
Murphy, who is running for Senate against incumbent Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors MORE (R) in a race that could decide which party controls the upper chamber in 2017, has decided to donate $21,800 to the U.S. Treasury, according to his campaign spokesman.
Murphy’s decision came after a Saturday report about Boston’s Thornton Law Firm from the Boston Globe Spotlight team and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog.
The report said that lawyers with Thornton received bonuses totaling more than $1 million that reimbursed their political donations to Democratic political candidates.
Reimbursing people for their political donations in order to skirt legal donation is generally against the law. In a “straw donor” system, the true source of the donation can be hidden. Such schemes can also be used to get around political donation limits.
The Globe reported that Thornton said its program had been reviewed by outside lawyers, who determined it complied with applicable laws, but a spokesman for Murphy said there were “troubling details” in the report.
“The Globe’s investigation has revealed troubling details about these donations,” said Murphy’s spokesman, Joshua Karp, in a statement to The Hill on Monday. “We’ll be donating it to the U.S. Treasury, because that is the right thing to do.”
Murphy attended a fundraiser with Thornton Law Firm in January 2016, according to the campaign. Following the revelations in the Boston Globe story, the campaign will be donating the $21,800 raised at that event.
The Globe story didn’t name Murphy, who wasn’t among the largest recipients of the law firm’s cash. Some of the biggest recipients included Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) and President Obama, who all received around $100,000 from the firm, according to the report.
Murphy isn't the only Democratic Senate candidate to decide to return money raised from the law firm. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is running for Senate against incumbent Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP dealt 2022 blow, stares down Trump-era troubles Sununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority MORE (R), will return more than $30,000, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader
Murphy currently trails Rubio by 5.6 percentage points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.
Earlier this year, a Republican group, the Senate Leadership Fund, filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission alleging that a wealthy Saudi Arabian family had developed a straw donor scheme to help Murphy in his first run for Congress in 2012. Murphy’s team has described the charge as unfounded and “frivolous.”