I don’t know if this will derail Marco Rubio in the Republican primary – if I had to guess it won’t – but the biggest papers in Florida just looked back at his record and found a huge slush fund for both political and personal activities, maintained through special interest donations. Two newspapers did a joint investigation of his expense records:
About $600,000 in contributions was stowed in two inconspicuous political committees controlled by Rubio, now the Republican front-runner for the U.S. Senate, and his wife. A Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times analysis of the expenses found:
• Rubio failed to disclose $34,000 in expenses — including $7,000 he paid himself — for one of the committees in 2003 and 2004, as required by state law.
• One committee paid relatives nearly $14,000 for what was incorrectly described to the IRS as “courier fees” and listed a nonexistent address for one of them. Another committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who was listed as the treasurer, much of it for “gas and meals.”
• Rubio billed more than $51,000 in unidentified “travel expenses” to three different credit cards — nearly one-quarter of the committee’s entire haul. Charges are not required to be itemized, but other lawmakers detailed almost all of their committee expenses.
The guy was Speaker of the Florida House, not some rube plucked out of a Tea Party rally. So the litany of expense accounts and lavish spending aren’t that surprising. We had a similar issue with a former House Speaker in California a few years back.
Some of this just recapitulates what was already out there – the GOP credit card, the unreported expense account. But a Republican House member in Florida basically synthesizes it in one soundbite:
“Having expenditures in the tens of thousands of dollars to pay off credit cards, it’s clear to me it was being used to live off of. The Rubios were living off it,” said state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a strong Crist supporter.
I mean, this isn’t a difficult analysis. Rubio started out in politics with student loans and a mortgage. He created a political action committee whose own reports show hundreds of thousands of dollars in “operating costs” and just a few thousand to actual candidates.
He’s a grifter. Just like a lot of grifters who have bilked taxpayers in the name of “conservative ideas.” Maybe his minions in the GOP primary won’t care. But Kendrick Meek certainly has some fodder for campaign commercials.