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Patrick Murphy Caught Profiting From Apparent Pay-To-Play Scheme

Not even a week after a major investigation revealed Patrick Murphy lied and misled about every major part of his biography, a new report shows that Murphy appears to be at the center of a pay-to-play scheme in which he sold favors to a real estate developer with ties to Murphy’s own business.

TC Palm connects the dots and finds that on the very same day Murphy cosponsored a bill expanding a highly controversial visa program, his super PAC received a $15,000 donation from a company taking advantage of the program to build the Miami Worldcenter. That same company used Murphy’s construction firm to build the project – creating the unmistakable appearance that Murphy sold favors in order to profit both personally and politically from his support for the visa program.

What’s more, TC Palm finds that Murphy’s super PAC took multiple donations from companies connected to the Worldcenter project – and Murphy even lied to reporters about his connections to the visa program and the developers who benefit from it.

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Patrick Murphy’s Connections Called Into Question By His U.S. Senate Race Opponents
By Isadora Rangel
TC Palm
June 29, 2016

On Sept. 18, 2014, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy co-sponsored a bill to expand a controversial foreign investor program. That same day, a developer who’s using the program to help fund a project in Miami gave $15,000 to a political committee affiliated with Murphy.

That same project, the highly-anticipated Miami Worldcenter, is being built by Murphy’s family construction company.

Murphy’s connections to developers who rely on the foreign investor program known as EB-5 have been called into question by his U.S. Senate race opponents, and the Democrat has had to do a lot of explaining lately. Seven developers who used EB-5, their family members and employees have given $309,000 since 2012 to Murphy and political committees that support him, a Treasure Coast Newspapers analysis found. That’s more than previously reported by other media outlets.

Murphy’s family company, in which he owns stock, was involved at some point in at least two of those donors’ projects. Coastal Construction Group no longer is a partner in the SkyRise entertainment tower project in Miami, according to Murphy’s campaign, but still is involved in the $1.7 billion construction of Miami Worldcenter, retail, residential and hospitality projects spreading over nearly 30 acres.

Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times in April he didn’t know whether his family company had done any EB-5 projects. Yet Coastal Construction’s ties to the program and Murphy’s ties to developers who benefit from it are inextricable.

Coastal Construction, in partnership with New York-based Tishman Construction, was picked as the Worldcenter’s general contractor in February and held a groundbreaking ceremony for the retail, entertainment and housing complex in March.

Two weeks later, a company owned by the brother of Worldcenter developer Nitin Motwani gave $25,000 to a pro-Murphy super PAC. Dev Motwani also hosted a Murphy fundraiser in March 2013, according to the website Political Party Time, which tracks political fundraisers.

One of the directors of that pro-Murphy super PAC, Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, also is a registered lobbyist for SkyRise, whose developer Jeffrey Berkowitz is a Murphy family friend. Also a family friend: Murphy’s top EB-5 donor, Nicholas Mastroianni II, a major player in the program and developer of Jupiter’s Harbourside Place.

Coastal also served as a lead contractor for the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, which initially sought EB-5 funding but ultimately relied on other financing.