Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto rips his predecessor and primary election opponent former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in a television commercial that started airing in Orlando Friday.
Soto’s commercial, airing on at least four Orlando TV stations, accuses Grayson of lying about him and also accuses Grayson of having a “double life running a hedge fund in Congress where he tried to profit off natural disasters in a shady Cayman Islands account.”
Soto’s 30-second spot, “Shady,” is at least in part a response to a TV commercial Grayson began running last week that accused Soto of ignoring constituents during last year’s hurricanes, holding a fundraiser. This week Grayson also returned to running an earlier spot on TV, using old footage of liberal commentators hailing him.
A review of Federal Communication Commission files shows Soto’s campaign just purchased about 70 time slots, about $15,000 in airtime, on four TV stations through the end of next week.
Grayson is taking on Soto in the Aug. 28 primary for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which Grayson represented for two terms before Soto won it in 2016.
Just two weeks earlier, Soto released an internet ad intended to show he will run a positive campaign. But that’s ended.
“When we get attacked with lies, we will hit back with facts,” said Soto’s campaign spokesman Harry Kruglik. “That’s what we’ve done in this ad.”
“When we go high, Soto goes low. I don’t know what’s worse: Soto’s smarmy feigned moral superiority, his headlong flight from his own record, his distant relationship with the truth, or his rank incompetence as a Member of Congress. To attack an ad of ours that is 100 percent true as dishonest demonstrates that Darren Soto can even lie about lying.”
The new spot touts Soto’s efforts to help Central Florida following Hurricane Irma and to help Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans coming to the United States — a big deal in the Puerto Rican-rich CD 9 — after Hurricane Maria. That’s an apparent response to Grayson’s attack.
It also takes the attack Grayson on a different front.
“Alan Grayson at it again, this time lying about Darren Soto,” the commercial begins. It does not say what Grayson lied about, or make any specific reference to Grayson’s spot.
“After Irma, Darren secured FEMA relief for Central Florida and helped countless families recover,” the commercial continues. “He led the fight for Puerto Rican evacuees and stopped [Donald] Trump from cutting off food and water aid to the island.”
Back to Grayson.
“So why is Grayson lying? To cover up his double life running a hedge fund in Congress where he tried to profit off natural disasters in a shady Cayman Islands account. The better choice? Darren Soto.”
The reference to the Cayman Islands hedge fund is a reference to a 2015 controversy, which came up again in 2016 when Grayson ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. It’s about hedge funds he founded in 2011 using his name in the title that, and that hedge fund had a Cayman entitity, which was never funded.
A Congressional ethics inquiry dismissed charges against him but still issued a report his that his Democratic primary opponent, then U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, called damning.