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Politics

Patrick Murphy: My Dad Taught Me the 'Value of Hard Work'

October 23, 2016 - 6:00am
Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy

Congressman Patrick Murphy has been painted by Republicans for months as a privileged, party-boy scion of a wealthy South Florida developer.

Emails and ads blast the 33-year-old single congressman as having used his father's connections and money to attend elite private schools, start a small business, secure a seat in the U.S. House and bankroll a run for the U.S. Senate.

As Murphy tries to overtake Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and win the coveted Senate seat on Nov. 8, the Jupiter Democrat has sought to brush aside the GOP portrait, in part by embracing his dad, Thomas Murphy, who has donated to Republican candidates and even worked on a couple of projects with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"I believe an attack on my dad is an attack on the American dream," Patrick Murphy said during a debate Monday. "My dad never graduated college. He was a union carpenter and a union laborer. And he worked his butt off every single day. And he taught me the value of hard work since very early on."

Murphy, a two-term congressman whose Senate bid is backed by the White House, is considered telegenic and even-tempered, best known as a centrist lawmaker who took down tea party Republican Congressman Allen West in 2012. He also doesn't consider himself some fortunate son who never got his fingers dirty.

"My first job wasn't in an air-conditioned office," Murphy said. "My first job was as a day-laborer, digging holes and pouring concrete. And I never forgot the value of hard work."

But Murphy, who isn't known for his oratory when making the rounds of chicken-dinner events or campaign stops, has allowed the GOP to score hits by not forcefully pushing back on their narrative about his upbringing.

University of Central Florida political-science professor Aubrey Jewett described Murphy as a "solid representative" who has been a "good candidate with a decent campaign but not a great candidate with a great campaign."

Rubio, meanwhile, has used the narrative of his family's journey out of Cuba prior to the takeover by Fidel Castro, with his father working in the United States as a bartender and his mother as a maid, as an example of the realization of the American dream.

Murphy doesn't highlight that he is the product of parents who divorced shortly after his birth in 1983 and that for a while he was brought up in Homestead by his mother, who was a struggling drug addict, according to a June story in the Miami Herald.

He eventually landed with his father, who was still building a business, Coastal Construction Group, that would eventually build resorts and homes for talk show host Oprah Winfrey and former Miami Dolphin Dan Marino, and who would marry his third and current wife in 1989.

"I've grown up in a very diverse background," Murphy told the Herald for the June story. "One side of the family that no one talks about or knows about is my birth mom's side of the family. My grandmother lives in a trailer; it's as lower income as it gets. My birth mom has certainly not lived a life of means in any stretch of the imagination, nor does she want to. It's exactly where she wants to be."

After shuffling around South Florida for several years, Patrick, or Erin as he was known, went to the private college-prep Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay, where he played sports and was the 2001 senior class president.

Rather than go straight to college, Murphy left for central New Jersey to spend a year at The Lawrenceville School, one of the oldest and most expensive post-graduate boarding schools in the nation. The next year he was back in South Florida attending the University of Miami.

It was at that point in his life, in 2003, that he was charged with having a fake ID and disorderly intoxication outside a nightclub in Miami Beach. The charges were dropped, but the booking photo has been fodder for the GOP since 2012.

It was also during that point in his life when his resume took some turns.

He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2006, with his major areas of study in accounting and finance. However, biographies of Murphy still can be found online crediting the congressman with "dual majors in accounting and finance."

He then went to work in Miami for Deloitte US, a global firm that provides audits for Fortune 500 companies, first as an "audit assistant" and later as an "audit senior."

Murphy has said he has worked as a certified public accountant. He did eventually pass the CPA exam in Colorado, but he wasn't a licensed CPA in Florida and couldn't sign off on documents with that title in Florida.

Murphy left the firm in 2010 to run Coastal Environmental Services, a small business that specialized in disaster relief and cleanup following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The firm was directly affiliated with his father's construction firm, and Murphy has said it worked to help clean up the Gulf oil spill.

Critics note that Coastal Environmental was never awarded any contracts. However, in August 2010, Coastal Environmental obtained a company, Crescent SR, which had contracts for the cleanup.

Murphy dismissed his critics' accusations.
 
"I'm proud of my experience as a small business owner," Murphy said, "proud of what I was able to do to help prevent that terrible oil spill from affecting Florida."

The next year, Murphy, who had contributed money to Republican Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential primary, turned his eyes to Washington, changing his registration from Republican to Democrat, saying at the time that he was disgusted by the rhetoric of West and the tea party movement.

Murphy serves on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

He's been criticized by some progressive members of his party for joining Republicans on a number of key issues, including supporting the Keystone pipeline and the creation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in 2014.

But Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in August in Tallahassee, defended Murphy against attacks on the Benghazi committee vote. Those attacks came, at least in part from Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, who lost the Aug. 30 Senate primary to Murphy.

"He's smart as hell for one. Number two he is a CPA," Biden said, referring to reports that questioned Murphy's experience as an accountant. "It's all part of the game, too. I just want him counting the dollars in the Senate."

Comments

"Paddy-Boy", Your Dad should have kicked you out of the house before you turned twenty,..and then burned your bed to keep you out until you grew up; At least he didn't name you "Sue" to force that to happen (So, who "stuck you" with the moniker "Erin"...Mommy? Guess even she recognized your affinity for toy dolls at an early age). "Senator"????????? WHAT A "LAUGH"!!!! Go find a Wife to teach you some reality, humility, and life experience.... because your parents FAILED !

Murphy is a sham. He hasn't owned a business or done anything constructive his whole life. His father has coddled and given him everything he has. No problem with that except Murphy has turned into a bully. He has bully's working for him that will tear down anyone or thing that gets in murphys way. He is the worst person to hold a public office of any kind.

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