Florida's Democratic voters just can't seem to catch a break. The state and national party
Marco Rubio is vacating his Senate seat, and it seemed like Democrats have not only a potential advantage come November but also a choice in the primary between Rep. Patrick Murphy, a moderate's moderate, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a firebrand liberal with an often abrasive personality. Murphy has the support of the establishment, but Grayson is performing better in early polls. Well, an article in yesterday's New York Times cast Grayson's private business dealings as potentially shady, and now Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, has publicly called on Grayson to drop out.
See, in addition to being a sitting member of Congress, Grayson manages a hedge fund. He was originally elected to Congress from an Orlando-area district in 2008 but was defeated in 2010. He started the fund in 2011. The fund attracted only four investors, and Grayson refunded the investments of all outside investors in the past year. Currently, the only investors are Grayson and trusts associated with his family. The fund also had operations in the Cayman Islands, but Grayson closed that branch last year as well.
The Times uncovered some potentially troublesome aspects of Grayson's business dealings, including this part:
Interviews and the documents show that Mr. Grayson told potential investors in his hedge fund that they should contribute money to the fund to capitalize on the unrest he observed around the world, and to take particular advantage when there was “blood in the streets.”
Reid responded to the article by taking the unusual step of calling for Grayson to drop out of the race.
"Alan Grayson used his status as a congressman to unethically promote his Cayman Islands hedge funds, and he should drop out of the Senate race immediately," Reid said. "His actions aren't just disgraceful to the Democratic Party; they disgrace the halls of Congress."
Grayson fired back in his own statement.
"I'm running against a rigged system and the Washington Establishment, so it's no surprise that its departing figurehead, who failed so badly in the 2014 Senate races, relies on a false and misleading hyped story to try to pressure me out of this race. The reason why he is making such an absurd statement at all is that he knows that I’m well ahead in the polls, and heading for a strong primary victory. Sen. Reid may well prefer corrupt Establishment errand boy Patrick Murphy, who routinely sells his vote to Wall Street lobbyists, and just last week hid from voting on his own bill providing amnesty to white-collar criminals. Patrick Murphy publicly called on national TV for cuts across the board in Social Security and Medicare, among other essential programs. Those are actions that truly disgrace our party and the Halls of Congress. Sen. Reid managed to find a way to lose six out of seven open Senate seats in 2014, and lose six incumbent Democrats when the GOP lost none. Now he is personally attacking the clear choice of Florida Democrats, making the party into a circular firing squad. The story to which he refers is replete with misleading statements, innuendo and outright lies, and despite that, there is nothing in the report that even suggest any improper or unethical conduct. I never used my Congressional office to advance any business interest or for personal gain, and to say so is utterly deceitful. I resent the attack on my 'morality,' and I question the morality and judgment of any elected official, much less one in my own party, who would sink so low as to engage in such a smear. Thank goodness that he will be gone from Washington, DC when I am sworn into the Senate."
The picture the Times painted of Grayson's hedge fund management is certainly troubling and needs further investigation (the House Ethics Committee is looking into the matter), but Reid's snapshot judgment seems particularly tone-deaf.
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Does he not trust Florida's Democratic voters to make their own decision?
Does he not realize that several Democratic voters across the country are, for better or worse, fed up with the party establishment and could easily interpret Reid's demand as a smear?
Does he not realize that Grayson is, again, for better or worse, almost certainly not the type of person who would drop out anyway?
Why even bother chiming in when it would almost assuredly lead to a circus anyway?