Florida Five: Fla. doc’s girls, money at heart of Menedez scandal, Murphy quickly fills Senate bid coffers

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

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Photo credit: Will Mullery/CNN

Menendez indictment: 3 girlfriends, 7 lavish trips, more than $750,000—Sen. Robert Menendez pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 14 criminal counts against him, including eight counts of bribery in his dealings with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist. During a brief press conference on Wednesday, the senator vehemently asserted his innocence and charged that the prosecutors were the ones who had it wrong. They “don’t know the difference between friendship and corruption and have chosen to twist my duties as a senator and my friendship into something that is improper,” he said. Read more

Patrick Murphy raises $750,000 in just over a week after announcing his candidacy for Senate – South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has been a declared candidate for the U.S. Senate for all of 10 days, but he was able to raise $750,000 since his announcement, his campaign team announced this morning. Combined with his previous fundraising for his congressional seat, Murphy announced that his campaign raised over $1.25 million in the first fundraising quarter of 2015, ending the period with $1.6 million cash on hand. Read more

Fla. open-seat Senate race would be expensive, competitive — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s expected entry into the 2016 presidential race could make it tougher for the GOP to keep control of the Senate — but only if Democrats nominate a strong candidate. That’s no sure bet in a state where Republicans dominate the political scene. “Democrats need (to win) every vulnerable seat to take control (of the Senate),” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “So certainly, this would be in the mix … It’s a must-win for them.” Read more

Florida Supreme Court takes up write-in candidate dispute –The Florida Supreme Court takes up one legal issue that arose from the 2014 elections, when they hear arguments next week about residency requirements for write-in candidates. In a case emerging from a Broward County Commission race, justices will determine whether write-in candidates on the ballot should “close” party primaries. Tyron Francois, a write-in candidate, submitted qualifying papers in the race that would have only had Democratic candidates otherwise. Read more

Judge to approve $82 million sale of Revel Casino to Florida developer –A bankruptcy judge Thursday said she would approve an $82 million sale of the Revel Casino Hotel to Florida developer Glenn Straub, ending nearly 10 months of contentious legal combat for control of the Atlantic City, N.J., resort. The purchase price represents a more than 96% discount from the $2.4 billion is cost to build Revel, which first opened its doors in 2012 but never turned a profit. The sale to Mr. Straub is expected to close Friday. Read more

Just for fun: Florida Keys weekend fishing 4cast

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