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Senate Leadership Fund files complaint against Patrick Murphy, alleges straw donor scheme

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The Senate Leadership Fund has filed a federal election complaint against Democrat Patrick Murphy.

The complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday, calls on federal elections officials to investigate what it calls “a highly suspicious network of contributors” to Murphy. The organization goes on to say the “evidence strongly indicates” contributions were “made in the name of another, straw donors, and corresponding reporting violations.”

The complaint also includes Charlie Crist and his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.

“Specifically, these donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these donors is a wealthy, close ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid,” the complaint reads.

The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC that aims “to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.” The group — which is run by Steven Law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s former chief of staff — is set to support Sen. Marco Rubio in his re-election bid.

“This complaint, like all the others that have been filed by Republican Super PACs, is totally false,” said Galia Slayen, a spokeswoman for Murphy’s Senate campaign. “We’ve lost count, but Republicans should probably spend less time filing these baseless attacks, and more time defending Missing Marco, who is already planning to abandon Floridians again and run for president in 2020.”

The complaint says Murphy and Al-Rashid, the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabia figure, are longtime friends. From 2011 until 2015, Al-Rashid donated $15,600 to Murphy’s congressional campaigns. The complaint says Al-Rashid married Morgan Budman, who served as Murphy’s finance director in his 2012 congressional campaign, in 2011. The couple, the report states, divorced in 2014.

According to the complaint, several members of Budman’s family in Pennsylvania gave significant contributions to Murphy’s campaign in 2011. The complaint says the same family members had “made federal contributions to only one other candidate, in a similarly-clustered group of contributions, to Charlie Crist in 2010.”

According to the complaint, there were inconsistencies in contributors’ occupations and addresses from one donation to the next.

The Senate Leadership Fund outlined similar concerns over a group of Texas donors who it says appear to be linked to Al-Rashid.

“The clustering of contributions among these two groups and the absence of any other federal contribution history among the donors is highly suspicious. The only evident connection between these people is Ibrahim Al-Rashid,” the complaint reads. “Taken together, there is a strong reason to suspect that both the Pennsylvania Donor Network and the Texas Donor Network are, in fact, networks of straw donors that either participated in an unlawful scheme to funnel Ibrahim Al-Rashid’s contributions, or were used by Al-Rashid to funnel contributions without their knowledge.”

The complaint asks the FEC to investigate the “potential fundraising violations and then impose all appropriate penalties and fines.”

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