© Haiyun Jiang
A Democratic super-PAC influenced by Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo Build Back Better, we need a tax system where everyone pays their fair share Democrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda MORE is returning $100,000 given by a donor who pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife after The Hill alerted the group to the donation.
Senate Majority PAC, the super-PAC led by Senate Minority Leader Reid (D-Nev.), which supports Democrats running for Senate, had taken the money in late March from Miami donor Ibrahim Al-Rashid.
Al-Rashid, the son of a Saudi multimillionaire, pleaded guilty in 2014 to simple assault of his estranged wife, Morgan, who had served as Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Fla.) finance director in his first campaign for Congress.
Al-Rashid, who is an old friend and major financial backer of Murphy's, received one year of probation.
The Hill reported Thursday that Murphy had donated all the campaign cash given to him by Al-Rashid to domestic violence groups. But on Friday, The Hill found that Al-Rashid had given a major super-PAC a contribution as well.
It is not clear which candidates that contribution would have helped.
Five hours after being alerted to the donation on Friday afternoon, a Senate Majority PAC spokesman told The Hill the money would be refunded to Al-Rashid.
"Senate Majority PAC contributions go through a rigorous vetting process before they are accepted," said the group's spokesman, Shripal Shah.
"Upon learning new information on this specific contribution we are returning the money."
Republicans are seeking to make Murphy’s relationship with Al-Rashid an issue in a race that will help decide which party controls the Senate.
Murphy, who is competing against Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE (D-Fla.) to be the Democratic candidate for Republican Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE's open Florida Senate seat, is the preferred candidate of Reid and the Democratic Party establishment.
Reid this week had a confrontation with Grayson during a closed-door meeting between the Senate Democratic leader and the House Progressive Caucus. During the meeting, Reid reportedly told Grayson, "I want you to lose."
Following his friend's guilty plea, Murphy's campaign donated more than $16,000 to domestic violence groups, which more than covers the amount given by Al-Rashid to his campaign.
“This incident is personal for me,” Murphy told The Hill in a statement. “I was heartbroken when I found out, and I condemn Ibrahim’s inexcusable actions. Over the past year I have prayed for Morgan and her family to find healing."
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Republican-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, said Murphy should donate all the money Al-Rashid gave to a pro-Murphy super-PAC in 2012 — two years before he pleaded guilty to the assault charge.
In 2012, Al-Rashid gave $100,000 to American Sunrise, a group also funded by Murphy's father, which ran a controversial ad that showed a cartoon version of Murphy’s then-opponent, Allen West, wearing boxing gloves and repeatedly punching women in the face to illustrate how he was hurting them with his votes on healthcare and other policies.
That same election cycle, Al-Rashid also gave $180,000 to the House Majority PAC, the major Democratic super-PAC that supports House candidates. Over the course of the campaign, House Majority PAC spent $2.4 million on ads attacking West.
While it's unclear whether Al-Rashid directed his House Majority PAC donations to help Murphy, a near-identical donation pattern has repeated itself in 2016 now that his friend is running for the Senate.
Asked whether his $100,000 donation this year was earmarked to help Murphy, Al-Rashid hung up the phone on The Hill midway through the question.
Senate Majority PAC also declined to answer when asked whether Al-Rashid had directed the group to spend the money helping Murphy.
The Murphy campaign on Friday said it had nothing to add to its previous statement.