A week after we reported on GOP candidate Scott Sturgill’s ad slamming Democratic incumbent Stephanie Murphy for holding a ritzy fundraiser during Hurricane Irma, another Congressman is exposed.
By Jacob Engels
First there was “Steakhouse Stephanie”… and now there is “Dine-N-Dash Darren”. The Central Florida Post has uncovered FEC reports from September of 2017 from Soto’s congressional campaign that includes a $1,437.80 charge at the steakhouse made infamous by Stephanie Murphy in the heart of the DC swamp.
Like Murphy, he presumably got to pay his hefty tab several days later, while us common folk would have had to settle up on the spot or work the kitchen until we earned our keep.
We reached out to Soto’s campaign and he claims that while the charge was reported to the Federal Election Commission on September 11th of 2017, his campaign fundraiser was actually held on September 7th… the same day that Murphy has alleged her campaign fundraiser occurred.
These fundraisers both occurred during the state of emergency issued by Governor Rick Scott, as Hurricane Irma barreled down on the sunshine state. While we were all boarding up our homes and scrambling for supplies, Murphy and Soto were toasting to special interests and high dollar donors at the luxurious Charlie Palmer Steakhouse.
Unlike Murphy, who refused to answer calls for comment or provide actual evidence or documentation, Soto did provide his schedule for the 11th… which included stops within in the district. A Campaign spokesman denied allegations that the fundraiser was a joint affair with Murphy, but confirmed that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer were in attendance.
Both Murphy and Soto had votes to cast in congress during the day of September 7th, meaning that their fundraisers, which Soto alleges were held separately, were likely going on at the same time at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse.
“September 11 reviewing damage from Hurricane Irma in the District and have provided my schedule. We hosted a September 7, 2017 fundraiser with Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer. This is the payment to the restaurant for that event,” Soto told the Central Florida Post.
Primary opponent Alan Grayson, the progressive bomb-thrower who has mounted yet another comeback bid, isn’t giving Soto a pass.
“There have been two great tragedies in Puerto Rico this past year. One was the hurricane. The second was the failure of certain elected officials like Darren Soto to provide the relief that was needed and deserved.
Soto often says that he did “the best he could.” That’s probably true, but the “best he could” certainly wasn’t good enough.
Soto doesn’t really answer to the community; he answers to the corporate donors who pay for his $1600 dinners and even the suit he wears. They own him.”
While Soto is being called out in a primary, Murphy faced attacks from one of the three GOP contenders hoping to take her on in November. Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill released a devastating ad titled “Steakhouse Stephanie”, which garnered national attention.
BUSTED! Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy held a DC fundraiser while Irma paralyzed Florida in 2017. Fine wine & prime steak… while we hunkered down. Shameful and sad! https://t.co/nsPEnwsbEC pic.twitter.com/4rIYCVBUCC
— Jacob Engels (@JacobEngels) June 1, 2018
Murphy refused to answer our questions at Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee office opening last Sunday, using her child as a human shield to evade questioning. Despite her shameful use of her child, I visited her Baldwin Park fundraiser earlier this week in an attempt to obtain evidence from Murphy or her staff about the out-of-touch DC fundraiser.
Later that night, Murphy had successfully lobbied Facebook to remove our initial live video of her at the campaign office, where she snaked around the office and suddenly became mute when tough questions were asked.
Congresswoman Murphy refused to tell us if she thought political fundraisers could be postponed and natural disasters cannot, a question all too easy to answer but seemingly impossible for Murphy to comprehend.
In all honesty, both Murphy and Soto should have known better. These fundraisers were tacky, tasteless, and typical behavior from out-of-touch politicians more concerned about their political advancement than the people they claim the represent.
At least Soto was able to respond to our calls, unlike Murphy who drips of smarmy elitism. They are both one in the same though, Murphy a member of the upper crust, and Soto a puppet-boy who thinks that he is “one of them.”
Alan Grayson said it perfectly… they own him. I have been critical of Grayson in the past and rarely agree with him… but he earned his wealth and refuses to let corrupt political controllers pollute his process.
Voters should soundly reject “Steakhouse Stephanie” and “Dine-N-Dash” Darren, we can do better.
Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, Fox News, and Australia’s New Dawn Magazine. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.