Lois Frankel defends Gwen Graham, hits Andrew Gillum on super PAC ads

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has not made a formal endorsement in Florida’s five-Democrat primary for governor.

But Frankel has issued a statement through former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s campaign defending Graham against attacks by a super PAC that supports Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the primary. Frankel weighed in after The Collective Super PAC  announced it will spend nearly $500,000 on TV ads that criticize Graham’s votes during her term in Congress from 2015 to 2017.

“In Washington, I’m fighting to end Citizens United and the use of secret money in campaigns,” said Frankel. “It’s extremely disappointing that any of the Democrats running for governor would undermine this fight by accepting secret contributions and encouraging their allies to attack a fellow Democrat with secret ads.”

The Collective Super PAC has already spent more than $1.2 million in support of Gillum, the only black candidate and only non-millionaire in the race. The super PAC’s largest donor is an affiliated 501(c)(4) group, The Collective Future, which isn’t required to reveal its individual contriibutors.

Polls last week by Florida Atlantic University and Mason-Dixon showed Graham leading the Democratic field and Gillum in fourth or fifth place.

The Collective said last week that its new ad “focuses on one of Gillum’s primary opponents, who continues to tout progressive credentials despite voting with banks, supporting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, and publicly undermining President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to get reelected.”

Graham voted to loosen some financial restrictions in the Dodd-Frank bill and supported the Keystone XL pipeline. She generally backed President Barack Obama and Democratic leadership on the Affordable Care Act, but voted in 2015 for a bill to reduce the scope of Obamacare’s employer mandate by making it apply to 40-hour-a-week employees rather than 30-hour-a-week employees.

Frankel differed with Graham on the three votes highlighted by The Collective, but defended Graham.

“I served with Gwen Graham in Congress. She voted with Democrats to save the Affordable Care Act from Republican attacks. Gwen defended President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from Wall Street’s attacks. And she rallied the Florida delegation to protect our environment from polluters’ attacks. Anyone attacking her today is not doing so in the best interest of Democrats or our state,” Frankel said.