May 11, 2016

Will Privileged Patrick Murphy Return Funds From California Felon?

The shock waves reverberating throughout California’s 7th Congressional District in the wake of Democratic Rep. Ami Bera’s father pleading guilty to felony campaign finance violations are being felt thousands of miles away in Florida, where Rep. Patrick Murphy is running a senate campaign already rife with dubious donation dealings.

The Sacramento Bee detailed Bera’s scheme:

Babulal Bera and his wife, Kanta, each gave their son the maximum. He also solicited money from at least 90 other people, presumably friends and family. If they couldn’t afford to give, he would reimburse them, more than $265,000, rendering the cap meaningless. It’s called laundering, and it’s illegal.

And noted Bera’s money also flowed to other Democrats:

But in Federal Election Commission filings, Babulal Bera, a retired chemical engineer, and his wife have disclosed donating $483,000 between 2009 and 2015 to their son and to other Democratic congressional candidates and federal campaigns. That amount suggests political sophistication.

One of those candidates is Patrick Murphy, who received $5,000 from Babulal Bera in June of 2015:

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This isn’t the first time Murphy has been linked to Babulal Bera’s campaign finance schemes – in 2014 Murphy’s parents and Bera’s parents participated in shady donor swap deal. The Philadelphia Inquirer detailed the web of intrigue in 2014:

In June, Robert Strouse sent $5,200 to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.). (The Floridian is no relation to the former Bucks County congressman with the same name.) Four days later, Murphy’s father, Thomas P. Murphy Jr., sent an identical campaign contribution to Kevin Strouse.

[…]

Lance Callis and Bera’s father, Babulal Bera, each gave to the reelection campaign of Murphy, the Florida congressman. Murphy’s mother, Leslie, also sent $5,200 to Ami Bera.

The Senate Leadership Fund is calling on Murphy to return the tainted campaign cash. Murphy would do well to comply – already facing scrutiny for his father pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into his Super PAC, the last thing he needs are more campaign finance controversies.