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Democrat Murphy Uses Rove in Fundraising Appeal

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), facing a possible tough race in his first bid for re-election, warned supporters in an e-mail fundraising appeal Monday that the conservative 501(c)(4) organization, Freedom’s Watch, and its chief political strategist Karl Rove, were targeting him in November.

There’s one problem: According to Freedom’s Watch, Rove doesn’t work for them and never has.

“The assertion that Patrick Murphy is making is categorically false,” Freedom’s Watch spokesman Ed Patru said Monday afternoon. “I’m not surprised that Patrick Murphy is making up stories. But even I’m shocked he’s pushing false information on his donors.”

Rove, President Bush’s former chief political adviser and a former White House deputy chief of staff, has never been employed by Freedom’s Watch, either directly or on contract.

Rove occasionally holds discussions with representatives of Freedom’s Watch, officials at the group say. But such communication is sporadic and infrequent, and has decreased over the last nine months.

When contacted about the claim of Rove’s association with Freedom’s Watch, the Murphy campaign held its ground, pointing to a June 14 National Journal story in which Freedom’s Watch board member William Weidner called Rove’s strategic advice to the group “invaluable.”

The Murphy campaign cited this portion of Peter H. Stone’s National Journal Story to bolster its claim:

“Rove has been busy pitching in by giving informal advice to McCain’s team and spending a considerable amount of time as an outside adviser to Freedom’s Watch, the conservative political group that is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars to help elect House GOP candidates,” Stone wrote.

“William Weidner, a Freedom’s Watch board member, recently told National Journal that Rove has offered strategic advice to both the group and its major financial backer, Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson. Weidner, president of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which Adelson chairs, called Rove ‘an invaluable asset’ to the group.”

In the e-mail, Murphy claimed that Rove was the “chief political strategist” for Freedom’s Watch.

The June 30 e-mail went out to supporters on the last day of the second quarter Federal Election Committee fundraising disclosure deadline.

“We have recently learned that Freedoms Watch, a pro-war interest group with a $250 Million dollar budget, has hired Karl Rove to be a chief political strategist,” Murphy writes in the e-mail appeal. “Mr. Rove is a lot of things, but he isn’t dumb. He’ll be looking at our numbers soon, and he’ll use them to decide whether to dump funding into my district.”

Murphy is facing businessman and retired Marine Corps officer Tom Manion (R) in the 8th district general election.

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