Posted at 3:22 p.m. today
Rep. Alan Grayson on Friday shrugged off a suggestion by the Senate’s top Democrat that he immediately drop out of the Florida Senate race after a published report detailed his work leading a hedge fund while serving in Congress.
“Thank goodness that he will be gone from Washington, D.C., when I am sworn into the Senate,” Grayson said of Minority Leader Harry Reid, who he accused in a statement of using a “false and misleading hyped story” to try to pressure him out of the campaign to replace Republican Marco Rubio.
“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,” said Grayson, who also blamed Reid for Democrats having “failed so badly in the 2014 Senate races.”
Reid, who is retiring this year, said earlier in the day that Grayson disgraced Democrats and Congress.
“Grayson claims to be a progressive, but it seems like he has no moral compass. These deeply troubling allegations should disqualify anyone from a seat in the U.S. Senate,” Reid said in a statement to Roll Call. “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.”
Grayson identifies as a progressive and rails regularly against the Democratic establishment, which supports his House colleague, Rep. Patrick Murphy, in the Democratic Senate primary.
In an article on Thursday, the New York Times questioned whether Grayson’s managing the fund – a “double-life,” as its headline put it – disrupted or distracted him from his work as a member of Congress.
The report noted that Grayson, who previously ran a telecommunications firm and is one of the wealthiest lawmakers, created the Cayman Island fund in 2011 when he was out of office. He named it after himself, but it was changed after he regained his congressional seat when he was challenged by an ethics complaint alleging he had broken a House rule.
“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 (suggests) any improper or unethical conduct,” Grayson said.
Without the support of establishment-aligned groups, Grayson has struggled to match Murphy’s fundraising strength. But, it is not clear how much of his own money he is willing to put into the race.
Four Republicans are already seeking their party’s nomination for the seat, which is rated Tossup by the Rothenberg Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
Contact Yokley at EliYokley@CQRollCall.com and on Twitter @EYokley.