Senate candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.) has repeatedly exaggerated his past business experience and made false claims about it that have misled the public, according to a report by Miami’s local CBS4 affiliate.
Murphy, who is running for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R., Fla.) seat, has touted his record as a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, and a small business owner in recent years to show voters that he is qualified to be an elected representative.
CBS4 News investigated Murphy‘s history as a CPA and small business owner and found that "Murphy has in some cases exaggerated his experience and in other cases made claims that were misleading or outright false."
Murphy has never been a licensed CPA in Florida, but instead received his CPA in Colorado, despite never having lived or worked there.
"He did not meet the minimum requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant in Florida, opting instead to apply for a license in Colorado, even though he did not live or work there. He applied in Colorado because the requirements were lower," the report says.
Records show that Murphy took the exam nine times before passing, according to CBS4, and his Colorado CPA was never valid in Florida.
Murphy's title was "Audit Assistant" while he worked at the firm Deloitte & Touche, and "experts in the accounting industry suspect Murphy either exaggerated or inflated the work he performed."
"The entry level audit assistant is kind of like a gopher," Charles Lee, a professor at Standford University’s Graduate School of Business and a former senior manager with the accounting firm KPMG, told CBS4. "He would be given a green pencil and told to check a series of numbers. That’s a very junior position."
Moritz Hiemann, a professor at Columbia University’s School of Business and a former senior auditor with Ernst and Young, said what Murphy did as an audit assistant was "fairly mechanical work."
As a small business owner, Murphy has said he made his mark at the southern shores of Louisiana in 2010.
After two and a half years at Deloitte & Touche, Murphy resigned and months later started Coastal Environmental Services to help the cleanup effort of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Murphy told CBS4 in September 2015 that he received "several" contracts and did "well" with his business but would not provide any more details to the reporter conducting the interview. While Murphy said he would be happy to turn over those documents, "what followed were weeks and months of negotiations with his campaign staff."
The network eventually was able to review copies of the contract but only if they would not reveal the names of the companies that hired them and the dollar amounts of the contracts.
"It is now clear that Murphy was not a small business owner," CBS4 reported. "Coastal Environmental was controlled and financed by Murphy’s father’s company, Coastal Construction."
More significantly, Murphy was not awarded a single contract for the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.
The report explains how Murphy did not start his own company but instead, with his father’s help, bought a business, Louisiana-based firm Crescent SR, which was already doing work in the Gulf with two contracts for oil cleanup.
The Coast Guard called off oil skimming operations in the Gulf soon after Murphy made the purchase, causing Coastal Environmental to soon be out of work.
The company was left with four oil skimmers, "but in nearly six years the vessels have not generated a penny of revenue."
The Murphy campaign said it would provide documents proving that Coastal Environmental turned a modest profit, but "what they provided to CBS4 News was a single sheet of paper with three numbers on it – Revenue, Operating Costs, Operating Profit."
"It’s not a financial statement, it really doesn’t give you any picture of the financial health or operations of the company," said Jesse Singer, a CPA hired by CBS4 News to review the documents provided by the campaign.
Coastal Environmental’s four oil skimmers are now sitting in a backyard in Louisiana, and the cost of storing them is so expensive that it has erased any profit, causing the company to now lose money every month.
When his company was out of work, Murphy returned to Florida to run for Congress, emphasizing on the campaign trail, "As a small business owner, as a CPA, I’ve actually created jobs."
Murphy’s father gave more than $550,000 to PACs and committees supporting his son’s 2012 congressional campaign, and he has contributed close to $300,000 for this year’s Senate race, according to CBS4.