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Fact-checking Florida's U.S. Senate candidates

Sen. Marco Rubio, Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson are running for Rubio's U.S. Senate seat. (File photos) Sen. Marco Rubio, Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson are running for Rubio's U.S. Senate seat. (File photos)

Sen. Marco Rubio, Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson are running for Rubio's U.S. Senate seat. (File photos)

Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin August 29, 2016
Allison Graves
By Allison Graves August 29, 2016

After months of being bombarded with campaign ads and mailers, Florida primary voters will decide Tuesday which U.S. Senate candidates will move on to the general election.

We’ve been tracking the most visible candidates in both parties on our Truth-O-Meter for months. Here’s a look at how some statements from the contenders stack up.


Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff is the only GOP hopeful still standing after incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio flip-flopped on saying he wouldn’t seek re-election after his failed presidential bid.

Beruff’s talking points have hammered career politicians, mirroring some concerns voiced by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Thousands of Syrian refugees are pouring into our country, thanks to President Obama," Beruff said in an Aug. 8 Facebook post. "This is an open invitation to acts of terror. Even the director of the FBI said that we cannot properly vet people coming from the Middle East."

James Comey, while talking specifically about Syrian refugees and not all of the Middle East, has repeatedly said that admitting refugees has its challenges and that information gaps do exist. But he also has expressed confidence in the admission procedure and says it continues to improve. That makes it hard to argue Comey feels like the government’s process "cannot properly vet people."

We rated Beruff’s statement Mostly False.

Rubio, dogged by accusations of ignoring his senatorial duties, has touted his accomplishments since announcing he wanted to return to Washington.

One of his campaign ads contained text that read, "Marco Rubio wrote and passed bipartisan legislation allowing the VA to fire negligent workers."

This is fairly accurate, with the one caveat being that the legislation he wrote passed the House but not the Senate. His contribution was included in a larger bill, however, and passed as law with other reforms to the VA system in 2014.

We rated his claim Mostly True.


U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has been endorsed by President Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, but he has faced questions about possibly padding his work experience. Murphy has largely ignored his primary opponents and has instead focused on Rubio.

Murphy lambasted Rubio for having a "terrible record on women’s health" in an Aug. 19 post on his website. Murphy’s post said Rubio opposed the right to choose an abortion, Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

"He even voted against the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act," Murphy’s campaign wrote.

Rubio voiced support for the original law, but he and some Republicans in both the Senate and House opposed certain provisions added to the bill pertaining to spending and federal oversight. Rubio voted against the bill in 2012 and 2013, but it passed with bipartisan support the second time.

Even though he had clearly stated his reasons why, Rubio still voted nay. We rated Murphy’s statement True.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has fended off an ongoing ethics investigation into hedge funds he manages to stay in the race. He has attacked Murphy for his voting record and ties to special interests.

"Guess who has taken more money than any Democrat from Wall Street?" Grayson said while speaking to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on June 30. He said that the person was  a "certain second-term congressman from Florida who serves in the financial services committee and has no standing in the committee other than the simple right to vote."

He continued: "His name is Patrick Murphy, and he's taken more money from Wall Street than any other member of Congress other than the speaker and the majority leader."

Grayson is right that in the 2015-16 cycle, Murphy raised more money from employees of Wall Street-related fields than any other House member after Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at No. 2.

Murphy did not raise as much in his previous two congressional bids, but in context it is clear that Grayson was talking about their current race for the Senate.

We rated this statement Mostly True.

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Fact-checking Florida's U.S. Senate candidates