Mostly False
National Republican Senatorial Committee
Says Patrick Murphy "never worked as a CPA" and was "never a small business owner."

National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 in a TV ad

Republican group misleads in attack on Patrick Murphy's resume

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a TV ad attacking U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy's claims about his past work.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee says it’s fact-checking U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s resume as a certified public accountant and small business owner.

Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The NRSC’s TV ad  begins with a video clip of Murphy saying in 2012, "I believe that my background as a CPA and a small business owner is exactly what we need."

The narrator then reads lines from a CBS4 Miami report and says, "Never worked as a CPA," and "Never a small business owner."

Did Murphy distort his work experience? We heard similar attacks against Murphy during the primary, and wrote a guide to attacks on Murphy’s resume. There are a lot of nuances to how Murphy has characterized his work experience, and the TV ad makes it sound clear cut. It’s not.

'Never worked as a CPA?'

Murphy did work as a CPA. But he first held a lesser title and then worked as a CPA for less than a year.

Murphy started at Deloitte in Miami 2007 as an "audit assistant."  He applied for his CPA license from Colorado in 2009; at the time Colorado required fewer semester credits than Florida. After he obtained the license in September 2009, he was promoted to "audit senior." He left in May 2010.

To get the license, Murphy took a test through the state of Vermont. (The exam is the same everywhere, so he didn’t have to travel to Vermont to take it.)

CBS4 reported that Murphy "never worked a day in his life as a Certified Public Accountant." This is a matter of semantics: He did work while a CPA for several months at Deloitte, but he worked in Florida while holding a Colorado CPA license.

Gary McGill, director of the Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida, previously told PolitiFact Florida that Murphy’s path -- starting as an audit assistant at Deloitte, taking the CPA test and getting licensed in another state and then being promoted -- would have been common.

Many new hires at firms such as Deloitte have not passed the CPA exam. These non-CPA assistants can’t sign audit opinions or tax returns; however, they do audit work without having a CPA license from any state, McGill said.

"Bottom line: He can fully work as an audit assistant or even audit senior or manager in for Deloitte in Miami without being licensed in Florida (or anywhere)," McGill said. "It only becomes critical to have the Florida license if he becomes a partner."

Murphy was promoted to "audit senior" after obtaining his license.

"They are the boots on the ground doing the actual work," he said.

Murphy acknowledged in a 2012 debate that his CPA license was from Colorado after his Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Allen West, accused him of misleading voters about his credentials.

"I am a certified public accountant in the state of Colorado," Murphy said. "I never hid that."

Murphy’s 2016 campaign website said that after college, he "went on to work as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for Deloitte and Touche, auditing Fortune 500 companies."

A Murphy spokesman referred to an article by the Sun Sentinel which quoted a former supervisor of Murphy’s at Deloitte from 2007 to 2009. She gave $250 to his campaign in 2011.

"Patrick is a licensed CPA who did valued accounting work in Florida," Courtney Connolly told the Sentinel.

'Never a small business owner'

Murphy was a small business owner. But the business was owned by multiple people and grew out of a business owned by his father. The business was Coastal Environmental Services, a company formed to clean up the Gulf oil spill. Ultimately the firm only did work in the Gulf for a few months.

In 2010, Murphy, his father Thomas P. Murphy Jr. and Dan Whiteman incorporated Coastal Environmental Services. The elder Murphy owns the affiliated Coastal Construction, and Whiteman was listed as the president of both firms.

Annual reports show Patrick Murphy was a director in 2011 and 2012. Once elected to Congress, he remained an owner but no longer a director.

State records don’t show if someone is an "owner," and Murphy hasn’t said if he financed the firm.

By "owner" Murphy presumably meant that he had an economic interest, University of Florida corporate law professor Stuart Cohn previously told PolitiFact Florida.

"Records filed with the state do not require listing those who had such an economic interest, whether as a shareholder or otherwise," Cohn said. "So, it is not possible from the state records to determine who owned what economic interests and in what percentages."

The Murphy campaign shared an IRS document with PolitiFact Florida that showed that Murphy, his father and Whiteman were shareholders in 2010. (The campaign blacked out the percentage each owned, as well as the names of three additional shareholders.)

Whiteman previously told PolitiFact Florida that as vice president Murphy "managed the company’s affairs."

"It's typical for business partners to have multiple ventures together, so it’s not unusual for some of the owners of Coastal Construction to also be owners of Coastal Environmental," Whiteman said.

Most of Murphy’s annual congressional financial disclosures do not mention his position with Coastal Environmental.

In 2015, he amended his 2012 form to show that he was the firm’s vice president. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 he doesn’t list the firm at all.

The company has been dormant since 2010, so it hasn't generated any income and doesn't need to be reported as an asset on the forms, said Joshua Karp, Murphy’s campaign spokesman.

Our ruling

The NRSC ad says Murphy "never worked as a CPA" and was "never a small business owner."

Murphy did work as a CPA, albeit for only several months. He first worked as an audit assistant, and then got licensed through the state of Colorado.

Murphy has been an owner of Coastal Environmental Services. The firm only did work in the Gulf for a few months in 2010 and has since been dormant. Since it is a private business, we lack some information about it such as whether he put up any money to finance the business. He was a co-owner along with his father.

In both cases, the word "never" is too extreme to characterize Murphy’s work experience. However, in both cases we are talking about Murphy working for brief periods of time. Murphy may be overselling his resume, but the ad also exaggerates when it says "never."

We rate this claim Mostly False.

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