WASHINGTON — When Congressman Patrick Murphy, a Florida Democrat, was up for re-election in 2014, his staff commissioned an opposition report on their boss — a fairly typical move in modern politics.
One finding of that book: Murphy's family business has done work for Donald Trump, something that the firm writing the report cast at times as an asset and at times as a liability.
Since tapes of Trump boasting that he kissed women against their will and grabbed them "by the pussy," Murphy, who is now locked in a tight race for Florida's Senate seat, has repeatedly attacked his rival, Senator Marco Rubio, for backing the Republican nominee.
“Marco Rubio responded to Donald Trump’s dangerous misogyny with a single tweet. Florida women and families deserve better than a tweet,” Murphy said on a conference call this week.
The book was assembled by True Stories Research, a Democratic opposition research firm based outside Jacksonville, for the Murphy campaign. The Murphy campaign did not dispute the book's authenticity, but suggested that it was part of a hack targeting Democratic candidates. A Republican source provided it to BuzzFeed News, and said it was obtained more than a month before hacker Guccifer 2.0 posted a series of documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee relating to Florida's primaries. This document is not among those publicly released by the hacker.
"Democrats have been targeted by a broad and nefarious effort by the Kremlin to support Donald Trump and his allies like Marco Rubio," said Murphy spokesperson Joshua Karp. "While we can't say with complete certainty, the leak of this document, which was stored on the same servers as other leaked documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is deeply suspicious. Meanwhile, it is shameful that Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have failed to condemn Russia's unprecedented meddling in American elections."
The research book says that in "April 2009, Construction Today reported that Coastal Constructions was the construction manager at risk for two luxury condominium projects belonging to Donald Trump." Murphy's family runs Coastal Construction, a major construction management company based in Miami. Before running for Congress, Murphy was a vice president at a company affiliate and reportedly owns up to approximately $5 million in Coastal Construction shares.
One project was the 55-story Trump Royale in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, the book says. The other was the 42-story, $150-million Trump Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida.
The research book, quoting a 2008 edition of the South Florida Constructor, says Coastal Construction president Dan Whiteman said that many of the company's large residential projects had "been built for world-renowned developers including Jorge Perez, Craig Robins and Donald Trump.”
Democratic congressman Alan Grayson, Murphy's competitor in the Democratic primary, had previously attempted used the Trump attack against Murphy. Murphy's father, Coastal CEO and chairman Thomas Murphy, told the Palm Beach Post at the time that Trump had been paid a licensing fee for use of his name by a different developer and had no ownership stake in the properties.
Murphy has been criticized in the past for the generous support his father has given to Democratic super PACs that have then supported his son.
According to the research book, House Majority PAC spent $2.4 million on ads against Allen West, Murphy's Republican rival in 2012, "making Murphy their top beneficiary nationwide."
"His own father gave $300,000 to House Majority," the book says. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also bought an ad that attacked West."
Another super PAC that ran an ad against Murphy's rival in 2012, American Sunrise, "got $250,000 of its initial $350,050 budget from Murphy’s father," the research book says.
It's not uncommon for campaigns to do opposition research on themselves and the purpose of the book was to highlight "key accomplishment and vulnerability themes for use in communications and to identify additional areas for research."