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U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson wants voters to think he’s the only true Democrat in the race for Marco Rubio’s soon-to-be-open Senate seat. After all, he reasoned, his primary opponent helped Republicans create the Benghazi committee.
"Two years ago last Sunday, the Benghazi committee came into being," the Orlando businessman and former lawyer said in a fundraising email on May 11, 2016. "There are only three Democrats in the House today who voted for it. One of them is my primary opponent, Patrick Murphy."
Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, was a Republican before switching parties two years before being elected to Congress in 2012. His moderate views have been challenged by progressives and especially Grayson, who has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential race.
Could it be true Murphy was among a handful of Democrats who voted to investigate leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton? In a word, yes, although Murphy said it was because he wanted to clear Clinton’s name.
Back to Benghazi
On Sept. 11, 2012, just before President Barack Obama’s re-election, Islamic extremists attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission and a CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Various conspiracy theories and cover-ups became partisan talking points as the White House was questioned about al-Qaida involvement and what officials did and did not know about the attack. Then-Secretary of State Clinton and the State Department faced scrutiny that has continued during her presidential campaign.
By May 2014, seven congressional probes and a State Department review board had examined the issue. A conservative watchdog group obtained State Department emails about the attack that had been withheld from one of these House committees, sparking calls for a new investigation.
The Republican-led House voted to form the House Select Committee on Benghazi, comprised of seven Republicans and five Democrats, to again question the Obama administration’s handling of the incident.
The May 8 vote largely went along party lines, 233 to 186. We say "largely" because seven Democrats crossed the aisle and voted to create the committee. Murphy was one of them. (He did not serve on the committee.)
Grayson chose his words carefully when he cited "three Democrats in the House today." Four of those seven Democrats who voted for the panel are no longer members of Congress. Only Murphy, Minnesota’s Collin Peterson and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema are still in office.
Murphy released a statement following the vote, saying he hoped Congress would not use the panel to grandstand on the issue. We couldn’t find the press release on Murphy’s House website, but the Tampa Bay Times published the statement in part:
"While the congressman respects the work his colleagues have done already investigating this matter, when it comes to American lives lost overseas in service to our nation, we must make sure that all questions have been answered. He sincerely hopes that this committee is not used as a way to politicize this tragedy and the deaths of four Americans."
This isn’t the first time Grayson has attacked Murphy over the vote. On Oct. 2, 2015, he called the committee "a partisan clown show" that had been "done with Patrick Murphy's permission."
By Oct. 21, Murphy told MSNBC that officials were abusing the process and the panel’s usefulness was over.
"Based on what we’ve heard just in the last several weeks from Leader (Kevin) McCarthy, to the whistleblower to Congressman (Richard) Hanna coming out, admitting pretty clearly that this is a political witch hunt, I think it’s past time that we disband this committee," Murphy said.
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked Murphy if he regretted the vote, but Murphy stayed firm: "I stand by it, because I think it’s more than proven that there is nothing to hide there."
When we contacted Murphy’s campaign, his spokesman echoed a past statement that "Republicans turned this tragedy into a political circus" and reiterated Murphy wanted the committee shut down.
There’s little evidence that Clinton or other liberals are holding Murphy’s vote against him. Murphy is favored by Democratic officials in the U.S. Senate race, and Clinton reportedly told donors at a 2015 fundraiser that she is "so proud of him."
Republicans on the committee have said they expected to release a final report in the summer before the 2016 election.
Grayson said Murphy is one of "only three Democrats in the House today who voted" to create the Benghazi committee.
Murphy did vote with six other Democrats to create the committee in May 2014 (four of those seven are no longer in the House). Grayson is trying to paint Murphy as a conservative in liberal’s clothing. Murphy says his vote was to help clear Clinton’s name.
That’s a bit of context that Grayson should have included, so we rate his statement Mostly True.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/2af8b75d-3090-4047-aaef-82791287352a
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, fundraising email, May 11, 2016
Roll Call, "Boehner Proposes Creation of Special Benghazi Committee," May 2, 2014
Fox News, "House votes to establish select committee on Benghazi," May 8, 2014
The Hill, "Seven Dems vote to create Benghazi panel," May 8, 2014
Washington Post, "House votes to form special committee to investigate Benghazi attacks," May 8, 2014
U.S. House of Representatives, Final vote results for roll call 209 (2014), May 8, 2014
Roll Call, "House Votes to Establish Benghazi Committee," May 8, 2014
NPR, "House Lawmakers Vote To Reopen Benghazi Probe," May 8, 2014
Palm Beach Post, "Murphy one of only seven House Democrats to vote for special Benghazi committee," May 8, 2014
Business Insider, "Democrats: Benghazi Investigation Is Just A 'Political Stunt'," May 9, 2014
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking Benghazi: The rhetoric hasn't matched up with reality," May 16, 2014
PolitiFact Florida, "Fact-checking Patrick Murphy, Democratic hopeful to succeed Marco Rubio," March 23, 2015
PolitiFact Florida, "Patrick Murphy supports GOP in most key votes, strategist writes," April 9, 2015
Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "Alan Grayson blasts Patrick Murphy for previously supporting Benghazi probe," Oct. 2, 2015
Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "With Clinton in Florida, Grayson goes after Murphy on Benghazi," Oct. 2, 2015
Palm Beach Post, "Grayson slams Murphy for vote to authorize House Benghazi committee," Oct. 4, 2015
PolitiFact, "Clinton: 7 Benghazi probes so far," Oct. 12, 2015
MSNBC, "Democrats Hammer Benghazi Committee," Oct. 21, 2015
Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "Patrick Murphy says it's time for Benghazi committee to come to end," Oct. 21, 2015
Washington Post, "How the Benghazi committee Democrats helped Hillary Clinton," Oct. 22, 2015
CNN, "GOP investigator: 'Nothing could have affected what occurred in Benghazi'," May 16, 2016
Congress.gov, HR 567, accessed May 13, 2016
Interview with Joshua Karp, Murphy spokesman, May 13, 2016
Interview with David Damron, Grayson spokesman, May 14, 2016
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