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Alan Grayson Rebuts Hedge Fund Allegations In Run For Senate

Orlando Congressman and Senate candidate Alan Grayson spoke today at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club, where he defended his progressive positions and allegations he used a hedge fund for personal gain in office.

Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF News
Pam Keith, right, with Alan Grayson

Grayson appeared with fellow Democratic candidate Pam Keith, a Miami attorney, who are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. Grayson stood up for his progressive stances on health care and abortion rights, and had to fend off several questions about his hedge fund. That kind of speculative fund has led Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to call on Grayson to drop his Senate bid because of allegations he used his position as a congressman to generate business for the fund.

Speaking after the event, Grayson says it's a smear campaign aimed at getting him to drop out of the campaign in favor of Congressman Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who did not attend the luncheon.

"Why should I drop out? That's ridiculous," he says. "It's an obvious pressure campaign to steal the choice away from the voters. The voters want me, they want me overwhelmingly, the party bosses in our national D.C. Politburo apparently feel otherwise. To heck with them."

On Feb. 11, The New York Times published a report on Grayson’s enterprise, the Sibylline Fund (formerly known as the Grayson Fund, until a complaint against him was lodged with the House Ethics Committee in July):

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.” The emails also show how Mr. Grayson’s work for the hedge fund — which had $16.4 million in assets as of October and only four investors since it was established — at times interfered with his other duties. In August 2015, after Mr. Grayson introduced legislation calling for larger annual increases in Social Security benefits, he signed off on a plan to highlight the proposal at an event in Tampa, Fla., emails obtained by The Times show. But the plan was scuttled, two former aides said, when economic turmoil in China sent stock markets tumbling globally and Mr. Grayson had to turn his attention to the fund.

The day after the Times investigation was published, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Grayson to drop his Senate bid, issuing a statement in which he claimed that he “has no moral compass.”

Grayson dismissed all the charges.

"It's lies piled on lies, piled on top of other lies. It's sheer nonsense, and people can see through that,'' he said after the Tampa event. "For goodness sake, we have real problems to deal with. We have the problem of racism. We have the problem of economic inequality. We have the problem of poor schools. We have the problem that seniors haven't had a raise in 40 years. We have the problem that ordinary workers are making the same that they made in 1974. What is wrong with these people? Why can't they concentrate on something that matters in the lives of the voters, rather than throwing dirt at me?"

Four Republicans are also vying to replace Rubio. They are Congressman David Jolly of Dunedin; Congressman Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach; Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami; and businessman Todd Wilcox of Orlando.

The primary will be held Aug. 30.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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