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Tea Party favorite Rubio's spending habits come to light (Orwellian Media attacking Rubio)
Miami Herald ^ | 3/18/10 | Adam C. Smith, Beth Reinhard and Scott Hiaasen

Posted on 03/18/2010 5:34:33 AM PDT by mgist

Tea Party favorite Rubio's spending habits come to light

Budget documents show a less frugal side of Florida's Rubio Conservatives hail DeMint as he slams Obama for 'selling socialism' Rubio's charges to GOP credit card included $134 haircut Wine, groceries, car repair: What Florida's Rubio charged to GOP Senate candidate Rubio wows conservative audience Charlie Crist, once Senate GOP favorite, is running scared Poll: Rubio leads Crist in Florida's Senate race By MIAMI — Marco Rubio was barely solvent as a young lawmaker climbing his way to the top post in the Florida House, but special interest donations and political perks allowed him to spend big money with little scrutiny.

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.

Rubio's spending continued in 2005 when the Republican Party of Florida handed him a credit card to use at his own discretion. While serving as House speaker in 2007 and 2008, he charged thousands of dollars in restaurant tabs to the state party at the same time taxpayers were subsidizing his meals in Tallahassee.

"Every single thing Marco Rubio did was in accordance with both the letter and spirit, not only of Florida law, but of the policies and practices of the Republican Party of Florida,'' said Rubio campaign advisor Todd Harris, though he admitted the $34,000 in expenses should have been reported. "While every penny was accounted for, not all of the bureaucratic paperwork was filed and we will take whatever steps are appropriate to make sure that gets done.''

He added, "This is not taxpayer money we're talking about.''

Rubio's high-roller political spending belies his image as an outsider riding a wave of anti-establishment fervor and gunning to knock off Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. A Herald/Times review of other legislators' committees shows they typically contributed far more to other candidates and reported vastly fewer credit card payments.

"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.

Said Harris: "That's an absolute flat-out lie. And Mike Fasano should be ashamed for doing Charlie Crist's dirty work without any regard for the truth.''

The campaign would not make Rubio, 38, available to answer questions about his political committees and party credit card. He released a written statement: "None of our donors has ever questioned how the money was spent. In fact, the only one raising this question is the Crist campaign, which is not surprising given that they are more interested in personal attacks against me than they are in advancing conservative ideas.''

In December 2002, Rubio was a 31-year-old political hot shot set on becoming speaker of the Florida House. Rounding up support from legislators across 67 counties was no easy task for a young lawyer and local government lobbyist with a net worth of negative $103,000, a mortgage and student loans.

So Rubio did what many aspiring Florida legislative leaders do -- he created a political committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership, to "support state and local candidates who espouse conservative government policies,'' according to IRS records.

But for 2003, the committee spent nearly $150,000 on administrative and operating costs and $2,000 in candidate contributions. Over 18 months, only $4,000 went to candidates other than Rubio, while similar political committees gave tens of thousands of dollars to candidates.

Rubio spent the biggest chunk of the committee's money, $89,000, on political consultants, $14,000 in reimbursements to himself and more than $51,000 in credit card expenses. Records show those expenses were for food, lodging and airfare but do not detail who was traveling or where the expenses were incurred.

Such large credit card payments contrast with the more detailed disclosures in other legislators' political committees. Harris noted that Rubio's overall spending was in line with other legislators' committees.

"Marco put his on a credit card and the other guys put theirs on a debit card. So sue us,'' Harris said.

Altogether, the committee collected $228,000 in donations, including $30,000 from the Florida Crystals sugar corporation, $10,000 from U.S. Sugar, and $50,000 from a political group run by Republican fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn, a Broward County eye doctor indicted last year on corruption charges, who has also donated to Crist.

Rubio's wife, former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Jeanette Dousdebes, served as the committee's treasurer. In reports filed with the state, Rubio and his wife failed to disclose more than $34,000 in expenses over an 18-month period.

"The bookkeeping in [that] committee was not always perfect,'' Harris said. ``Marco will talk to his accountant and they will take whatever steps are necessary.''

Harris e-mailed the Herald/Times a list of expenses that the committee should have disclosed, including $7,000 in travel reimbursements to Rubio, bank fees, checks to consultants and credit card payments. Harris said the payments made to Rubio's wife, a homemaker, were reimbursements for travel expenses charged to her credit card. State law allows officers of these committees to be reimbursed for their expenses.

By the end of 2003, Rubio had locked up enough votes to become speaker three years later. He created a new political committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government, to ``educate the public about conservative leadership in government.'' It raised more than $386,000 from healthcare companies, a cigarette maker, car dealers, sugar growers and other Tallahassee players.

In his written statement, Rubio said both of his committees paid for the costs of traveling the state, meeting donors, formulating policy and supporting conservative candidates.

"I am proud of the work we have done to advance conservative ideas and principles,'' he said. "The purpose of these two committees was to provide a platform to pay for the costs associated with this work.''

The second committee helped pave the way for Rubio's speakership and "100 Ideas'' initiative. The innovative effort was supposed to solicit strong ideas from the public that would drive the Florida House agenda.

But about two-thirds of the money went to Republican political consultants, records show, including $91,000 to Bridgett Gregory Nocco, a fundraiser from New Port Richey, and $113,000 to Richard Corcoran, a Republican strategist who went on to oversee House campaigns and serve as Rubio's chief of staff.

Corcoran, now a candidate for a Pasco County state House seat, declined to detail how he earned the $113,000 through 2004, beyond planning and helping implement the "100 Ideas'' project. Newspaper reports indicate the "100 Ideas'' project didn't solicit ideas until late 2005.

"I was hired for strategy and the strategy was to have a bold agenda,'' Corcoran said when asked about the committee's spending. "That was my role, and beyond that I cannot address.''

Rubio's second political committee also paid $3,500 to his mother-in-law's company for rental car services and spent more than $10,000 on "couriers,'' who included Mauricio Giraldo, Jeanette Rubio's cousin; Carlos Fleites, her half-brother, and Orlando Cicilia, Rubio's nephew.

Harris said he did not know why the accountant did not list them as political aides. At 18 and 19 years old, the three were unable to rent from a car rental agency, Harris said, so they rented a van from the mother-in-law's freight company to do political work across the state in 2004.

"They were traveling all across Florida going on precinct walks, helping on campaigns and personally delivering checks,'' Harris said, noting that Cicilia is now working as a travel aide on Rubio's Senate campaign.

More than $74,000 in expenses by the committee -- about one dollar of every five spent -- were never accounted for in papers filed with the IRS. Harris noted these were for expenses under $500 and do not have to be disclosed. He refused to detail them to the Herald/Times.

Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government shut down in 2005 as Rubio gained access to another source of money for political activities: an American Express card backed by the Florida GOP. Rubio's bills included thousands of dollars in personal expenses, which he says he fully repaid, but the Herald/Times found some he did not cover.

"He's playing fast and loose with the rules,'' said Ben Wilcox of Common Cause Florida(?), a government watchdog group.

Gov. Crist did not have a credit card but has acknowledged former party chairman Jim Greer picked up some of his expenses on his card.

Rubio has already admitted he used the GOP's credit card to double bill the party and state taxpayers in 2007 for flights from South Florida to Tallahassee. He said he would pay the party back about $3,000 for the flights and consult with his accountant about amending his tax return with the additional income.

During the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions, records show Speaker Rubio charged more than $3,700 in meals on his party credit card at the same time he was receiving the state's $126 per day "subsistence'' to help cover legislators' food and lodging. Harris said the meal charges were for political purposes, though the speaker's successor typically oversees political activities for House Republicans and lawmakers are not allowed to raise money during session.

Rubio received $10,000 for meals and lodging from the state in 2007 and 2008. Still, the credit card records obtained by the Herald/Times showed Rubio regularly dined out at the party's expense -- from a $14.24 bill at Andrew's Capital Grill & Bar to $184.15 at Masa, an upscale "Asian-fusion'' restaurant.

"It would be entirely inappropriate for Marco to use [taxpayer] money to pay for meals that were political in nature,'' Harris said. (did I miss something? whi is Harris)"As a general rule, the subsistence payments went to subsidize lodging for Marco and any time he spent money for a political meal he made sure that the party paid for it.''

For his last year as speaker, Rubio reported a net worth of less than $8,400, despite earning $69,000 from Florida International University, $45,000 from the state and $300,000 from Broad & Cassell. The father of four had more than $900,000 in debts, including two mortgages on properties in Miami and Tallahassee, a home equity loan and a student loan.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: marcorubio
I wonder how much it cost to get this "non dirt" on Rubio. This is ridiculous.

Common Cause Florida????

March 20, 2009
Common Cause closing down in Florida
After 35 years, the watchdog group Common Cause is leaving Florida as a result, its leader says, of the bad economy. Executive Director Ben Wilcox has lost his job after 10 years of advocating for open government, stricter ethics laws, campaign finance reform and other issues.

1 posted on 03/18/2010 5:34:33 AM PDT by mgist
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To: mgist

Rubio’s charges to GOP credit card included $134 haircut Wine, groceries, car repair: What Florida’s Rubio charged to GOP Senate candidate Rubio wows conservative audience

What’s that compared to a “tax free” villa in the carribbean? How about AMTRAK establishing a route that somehow runs past your vinyard for a mere 30 million dollars? Shall I continue?

2 posted on 03/18/2010 5:42:54 AM PDT by marstegreg
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To: mgist

As far as I’ve seen, only three newspapers in Florida are going after Rubio. Miami Herald, St. Pete Times and the Orlando Slantinel. All left wing rags.

3 posted on 03/18/2010 5:45:40 AM PDT by Road Warrior ‘04 (I miss President Bush greatly! Palin in 2012! 2012 - The End Of An Error! (Oathkeeper))
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To: mgist

Closeted Christ is desperate. But he can’t hit “too” hard, or all of the stories of his gay cruising lifestyle will tumble out. And his “beard” wife won’t help.

4 posted on 03/18/2010 5:54:08 AM PDT by Travis McGee (
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To: mgist

What is funny is this is being published in the Miami Herald, an entity that is losing money hand over fist—a dying media dinosaur gasping for relevance...and being read by fewer and fewer people every day.

I’ll laugh my ass off when they have to shutter the operation.

5 posted on 03/18/2010 6:15:04 AM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: mgist

Crist is desperate. He is also going to lose. Go Marco.

6 posted on 03/18/2010 6:18:00 AM PDT by kabar
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To: Travis McGee
Beleive it or not Christ didn't have such a bad rap. He was even known to be fiscally conservative. People didn't give Rubio much dredit. The problem is when Christ coddled up to Obama, his RINO face really began to show. Especially compared to the young, aggressive, feisty Rubio who called out Obama at every turn.

If Christ has ever even complained about Obama, it hasn't been enough. For that alone, Christ went from fantastic to phony, in a Miami minute. Christ has been outed, not as a homosexual, even worse, he's been outed as A RINO.

7 posted on 03/18/2010 6:20:08 AM PDT by mgist
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To: mgist; All
$50,000 from a political group run by Republican fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn, a Broward County eye doctor indicted last year on corruption charges, who has also donated to Crist.

Small part of the story overlooked by everyone... but will come back to bite either Crist or Rubio in the general election.

Ponzi Scheme could sink Crist AND Rubio

Mendelsohn raised more than a half-million dollars from Mutual Benefits in 2003 to finance the hiring of a dozen lobbyists and make contributions to lawmakers to stop legislation that would have tightened regulations on the so-called viatical industry. The industry sold life insurance policies of people dying of AIDS and other diseases.

I recommend FReepers take a good hard look at Bob Smith, who is running for the Senate seat as well. He might be too conservative to win... but he's got a proven record and has fought for everything FReepers stand for.

8 posted on 03/18/2010 7:20:54 AM PDT by NotSoModerate
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To: NotSoModerate
Small part of the story overlooked by everyone... but will come back to bite either Crist or Rubio in the general election.

I don't see Rubio mentioned in that article and the accusations against Christ were not substantiated?

So that along with the fact that at this stage of the game "Bob Smith", is no where on the radar screen, makes your comment dubious?

9 posted on 03/18/2010 8:45:17 AM PDT by mgist
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To: mgist
So that along with the fact that at this stage of the game "Bob Smith", is no where on the radar screen, makes your comment dubious?

So you're saying I'm a democrat operative? Wow. Maybe I'm a conservative that believes in the truth no matter how inconvenient it may be.

The media in Florida won't let a $50,000 contribution from an indicted $1 billion ponzi scheme collaborator go quietly in the night. Especially when that ponzi scheme took advantage of thousands of retired people on fixed incomes and terminally ill people.

That's the reality, and I thought bringing attention to this would prepare people on FR. But apparently you'd rather insinuate that I've got some hidden agenda to secretly promote a democrat on a posting that barely got 10 comments.

10 posted on 03/18/2010 9:17:59 AM PDT by NotSoModerate
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To: NotSoModerate

How was Marco Rubio implicated in that Ponzi scheme? You are invalidating both Rubio along with Crist, where are the facts behind that “truth”?

11 posted on 03/18/2010 2:10:38 PM PDT by mgist
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To: mgist
Mendelsohn, charged with operating a Ponzi scheme's, donation records:

$1,000 was given by people who identified their last name as "Mendelsohn" and first name as "Alan".
$0 to Republicans
$1,000 from 1 person to Democrats

I think we all understand how the media works my friend.

12 posted on 03/18/2010 2:20:00 PM PDT by mgist
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To: mgist
How was Marco Rubio implicated in that Ponzi scheme?

You'll have to look at the dozens of articles on this subject. But I'll give you what they all say in a nutshell:

Rubio and Crist were in positions to stop a legislative get out of jail free card for a ponzi scheme operator that used viaticals and colombian drug money to build an empire: Joel Steinger.

When the SEC fined him and shut down his operation the state of florida was in the middle of an investigation to prosecute Steinger and throw him in jail. Steinger decided he would pay off dozens of elected officials to change the law of florida governing viaticals... the law he paid for allowed him to be exempt from any state prosecution or investigation.

Weeks before the vote on this legislation Marco Rubio received a $50,000 contribution from Steinger's money man: Mendelsohn. When the vote came Rubio voted to exempt Steinger from any prosecution or investigation.

The case is now sealed because Steinger used his money with so many people that 2 federal judges had to recuse themselves along with 3 federal district attorneys for conflict of interest.

The media won't talk about the democrats involved: there are many. But I know they will use this to hammer Rubio or Crist in the general election.

13 posted on 03/18/2010 2:46:36 PM PDT by NotSoModerate
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To: mgist

He contributed the money through a PAC he controlled called OPH PAC. Read the article I attached again... you’ll see they mention he funneled money through several PAC’s. That’s because PAC’s, 527’s, CCE’s, and ECO’s are exempt from contribution limits.

Rubio would normally never be able to accept a contribution of more than $500. But he had a 527 which allowed him to take in contributions of much more. Including the $50,000 from Mendelsohn’s PAC.

14 posted on 03/18/2010 2:51:18 PM PDT by NotSoModerate
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To: NotSoModerate
I've researched it and can only find indirect accusations such the following in Time rag. This attempts to smear all Republicans along with Christ.

"Rubio and his conservative backers have fixed political floodlights on a photo of Crist sharing a hug with President Obama last year as the governor welcomed federal stimulus money into Florida. But they probably won't be so eager to exploit the support Crist received from Rothstein (who, by the way, helped Crist blow out the candles on that $52,000 birthday cake), because some of those conservative boosters may well be shown to have received Rothstein's dirty largesse themselves. They could include GOP legislators in Tallahassee, where federal agents last month came calling to question politicians from both parties about their possible connections to controversial campaign contributors like Alan Mendelsohn, a South Florida eye doctor who faces federal fraud charges involving political-action-committee funds. (He has denied it.)"

Time is a very liberal magazine. I've known of Marco Rubio for years and have been to fundraisers for Marco Rubio, where contributors complain about him because he is so "inaccessible". He is as clean as a whistle. Although, I wouldn’t put my hands on the fire for anybody, your assertions still don’t hold water. He is very smart, attractive, and young with a bright future, a triple threat. Besides that, he could out debate Obama any day. It’s a good thing Obama is busy with Obamacare, or his gargoyles would no doubt go to any lengths, using our trillions, to take out this worthy adversary.

15 posted on 03/18/2010 5:12:40 PM PDT by mgist
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