Just hours after winning their party nominations for U.S. Senate, Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sen. Marco Rubio are both on the attack.

  • Murphy introduced father of wounded warrior in Rubio attack
  • Murphy, vet's dad accused Rubio of not helping son
  • Son was severely injured and paralyzed in 2015 Stryker vehicle accident

Murphy on Wednesday accused Rubio of putting his presidential bid in front of helping a wounded soldier, and introduced a wounded warrior as the face of his campaign.

Tim Riney of Safety Harbor, near Clearwater, is the father of Army veteran Timothy Riney, who was paralyzed after a military training exercise in February 2015. Riney was hurt and a fellow soldier killed after their 18-ton Stryker vehicle plunged over an embankment at Fort Carson, Colo.

“They are saying it's the worst accident with a Stryker in the history of the country, and you don't have time to help us?” the elder Riney said of Rubio.

Murphy and Riney claimed Rubio had a chance to help but didn't.

Riney said his son needed help with medical costs, and it took five months for Rubio's office to get back to him. Meanwhile, his son was transferred to a Tampa VA hospital, and they struggled to get financial assistance for home wheelchair accessibility.

“Marco Rubio is so set on putting himself first that even when a Florida veteran is lying paralyzed in a hospital bed, he can't find the time to help out," Murphy said Wednesday.

Riley said he thought that because Rubio was running for president and ran TV ads backing the military, his son's situation would get noticed. But instead, Rubio held at least 18 fundraisers when Sgt. Riney was being brought back to Florida in need of financial help, Murphy's campaign said.

Meanwhile, Rubio said he is the one who supports our military. In a one-on-one with News 13 just after the primary, Rubio said it’s Murphy who doesn’t back the military.

“This is about a clear choice: in someone who wants to rebuild our military, and Patrick Murphy, who wants to cut our military. It's about someone who wants to get rid of the Iran deal, which makes the world a more dangerous place, and Patrick Murphy, who wants to keep the Iran deal," Rubio said.

The Florida senator also said this election is about a record of achievement and that Murphy can’t name one thing he’s done in four years.

Rubio's office issued this statement in response to Murphy's accusations about Riley, and it provided a timeline of their involvement in the younger Riley's case:

“Our office responded to Mr. Riney’s request within two business days. In the following months, our office was in frequent contact with Mr. Riney, the Army and the Senate Armed Services Committee about this case, which was primarily handled by a team of professionals in our office who all took this duty seriously, including a veteran and a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Our office was able to assist the Riney family on getting some answers, but this was a complex case involving a training accident which occurred during the course of Spc. Riney’s service in the Army – the kind of case that takes some time to work through and is subject to lengthy internal investigation by the Army itself. When we last communicated with Mr. Riney in October 2015, he indicated that no further action was needed from our office at the time. We remain committed to working with him to ensure his son receives the care he deserves.

“Our office receives approximately 30,000 items of constituent correspondence each month and our caseworkers work tirelessly to assist thousands of Floridians each year. We are never satisfied with anything less than a completely satisfactory resolution for all the Floridians we assist and only wish we could do more to help each and every person who contacts our office.

Timeline of work performed on behalf of Army Spc. Timothy Riney, as provided by Rubio's office:

  • Feb. 26, 2015: Spc. Riney signs a consent form, allowing Rubio’s office to initiate work on his behalf.
  • March 2: Two business days later, Rubio’s office sends a confirmation letter to Spc. Riney acknowledging receipt of his case.
  • May 20: Rubio’s office contacts the U.S. Army regarding Spc. Riney’s case, and notifies Spc. Riney that it has done so.
  • June 8: The Army responds to Rubio’s office, which promptly shares the response with Spc. Riney the next day.
  • June 15: Rubio’s office speaks with Spc. Riney’s father regarding his dissatisfaction with the Army’s response.
  • June 16: Senator Rubio sends a handwritten note to Spc. Riney.
  • June 17: Rubio’s office reaches out to Spc. Riney’s father to further discuss his dissatisfaction with the Army’s response.
  • June 22: Rubio’s office hosts a conference call with Spc. Riney’s father, and also confers with Rep. David Jolly’s office, which had previously worked extensively on Spc. Riney’s case.
  • June 29: Rubio’s office follows up with Spc. Riney’s father to discuss the family’s options.
  • August 10: Rubio’s office speaks with Spc. Riney’s father again, and he asks the office to take no further action with the Army regarding two specific issues, as he was concerned doing so could delay his son’s discharge.
  • October 8: A U.S. Marine Corps Captain in Rubio’s office speaks with the Army regarding a separate issue in the case.
  • October 16, 2015: Rubio’s office discusses the case with Spc. Riney’s father in two separate phone conversations, and he ultimately states his son’s decision to not sign a form requested by the Army for further consideration. Spc. Riney’s father did not contact the Rubio office again.

Tim Riney speaks about his son's injuries during a news conference with Rep. Patrick Murphy on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Riney's son was paralyed in a Stryker vehicle crash in 2015, and he said Sen. Marco Rubio could have helped him with veteran's benefits but didn't. (Greg Pallone, staff)