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Rubio’s Use of State Party Credit Card Stirs Controversy

rubio-marcoFlorida Republican Party officials tried to steer clear Thursday of American Express charges rang up by former House Speaker Marco Rubio, but disclosure of the reports sparked an angry exchange with Gov. Charlie Crist, his U.S. Senate rival.

The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times reported that more than $100,000 was spent on Rubio’s card from November 2006 to November 2008, and paid $13,900 for personal expenses on the card during his years as speaker.

The Crist campaign, while distancing itself from the leak, seized on details of the spending.

“It seems that when you’re a member of the Florida House and still working as a lobbyist for special interests, every expense is political, even the trip to the local liquor store paid for by Republican donors,” said Andrea Saul, a Crist spokeswoman.

“A clear pattern is emerging in Speaker Rubio’s unfortunate behavior,” she continued. “The lobbyist-politician whines and plays the victim while continuing to make every effort to hide the facts surrounding his personal financial gain while in office.”

Rubio accused ex-Republican Chairman Jim Greer or others close to the Crist campaign of leaking the documents to the papers.

“Sadly, it is not surprising because these are the very men who put the party in the mess it is in today,” Rubio wrote in a letter to newly elected GOP Chairman John Thrasher. “The Florida GOP under Jeb Bush was never run with this sort of arrogance, mismanagement, lack of integrity and lack of leadership.”

Katie Betta, a Florida Republican Party spokeswoman, said Thursday that the party played no part in leaking the records and has no immediate plans to release American Express documents linked to Rubio or any other Republican officials.

“It doesn’t benefit us at all to have this slow trickle down of financial documents,” Betta said.

Thrasher has ordered that a forensic audit of state party records be conducted, to supplement an internal audit of party books already underway, but there is no guarantee that credit card records will be revealed publicly following the probe, Betta said.

The party is seeking to answer lingering questions about whether former Chairman Jim Greer misappropriated contributors’ money during his three years leading the party, which formally ended Saturday. Greer was accused by party leaders of mismanaging party finances, with criticism heightened by reports that ally Delmar Johnson was paid at least $408,000-a-year as executive director and chief fund-raiser.

In his letter, Rubio said 89 percent of his party expenses were for travel, lodging, fuel, car rentals and meals related to his official work for the party.

18 Responses »

  1. Actually it was more than $16,000 dollars that Rubio paid (out of pocket) to AMEX.

    "Rubio said he personally paid American Express $16,052.50 for nonparty expenses.

    "To the greatest extent possible, I made sure the Party never paid for any personal charges," Rubio told Thrasher.

    I am wondering if groceries,wine, and haircut cost more than $16,000. Of course not. The full story has not been told and no one knows if Rubio's payments to AMEX included the items above. Where are THOSE records?

    Furthermore, the Party leadership and their staff must approve all payments to AMEX. Therefore if there were questions about approving Rubio's purchases then they should have been denied.

  2. The Miami Herald has an intersting piece on this...

    "TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Senate candidate and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio released a torrid letter Wednesday accusing Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign of leaking Rubio's state Republican Party American Express statements showing nearly $110,000 in charges over 25 months.

    Rubio also justifies the charges as legitimate travel to promote the Republican Party of Florida, help Republican candidates and participate in county party fundraisers around the state.

    ~SNIP~

    Sharon Day, the state party's national committeewoman, defended Rubio and said she was angry someone would try to use the credit card statements against him."

    "I'm not upset with Marco Rubio at all," she said. "If you can raise $12 million on $110,000, we all should be that good."

    Day said Greer told her and other party leaders in a private meeting that if he went down, he would take others down with him. Greer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

    "It's very convenient that the only one that gets released (is Rubio's)," she said. "This is silly. They want to talk about $110,000 in 25 months when Delmar spent $130,000 in one month."

    Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/24/1498670/rubio-crist-leaked-amex-statements.html

  3. Rubio is a crook ! I wonder how much of that money was spent to pay for the services of call girls ....He should RESIGN !

  4. Dirty pool by the Crist camp.

    Anyone that can't see this is a political hit job by the Crist camp is blind.

    Crist is running scared.

    • Rubio Supporters, sounding more and more like Obama-zombies every day.

      Poor baby, it is a hit job to release the Party Credit card statements. Clearly Rubio was protecting something because he has been fighting the release since the beginning.

      Interesting that the people who support Sharon Day were also supporting the release of the records (because they thought it would hurt Jim Greer) I wonder how many will change their tune because of Rubio now.

  5. Let's see if I get this correct--the Republican leaders feel it's ok to skim a percentage of what you raise--maybe from now on I should deduct a certain percentage of donations and donate it to charity or haiti or something useful

  6. I'm not accusing or excusing anyone of anything. I do wonder how many people responding to this article actually gave their own money to the Republican Party.

  7. Rubio’s campaign leaked these documents, not Crist…think about it. He knew that Crist either had or could get the statements and would be better served if they came out at the last minute, he knew that RPOF Chairman Thrasher would come under continued pressure to release them until he was finally forced to do so…and he knew that he committed tax evasion, which is truly a federal offense.

    Therefore, he was left with the only choice which is to go on the offensive by releasing the information and doing an absurd, over the top PR effort to try and divert attention with his dramatic attacks on Crist. He needed to get the inevitable over with now, take his lumps and hope like hell that people will forget about all this before August. Politically speaking it is really his only reasonable alternative.

    As for what happens next, this will break hard one way or another for Rubio. Either people will fall for his ridiculous claim that somehow he is a victim and shouldn’t be at fault for his recklessness and abusive dealings with RPOF contributor funds, or people will see these actions as another reason why Rubio is no conservative and not fiscally responsible.

    So to the undecided voters, put down the Rubio cool aid and step back from the table. You are beginning to learn more about the “Real Rubio” and it isn’t what you have been told.

  8. Once upon a time Billy Bob Clinton stated in a State of the Union Speech that he would put 100,000 additional police on the streets. A year later, he claimed he did that. About two years out several newsmen noted that only about 30,000 policemen had been added. (Red tape & lack of future funding.) In the 2008 campaign, he claimed he had added about 80,000. A week later, John Edwards claimed he co-sponsored the bill and and had helped put 100,000 policemen on the street.
    Moral of the Story: Politicians and numbers don't add up. (God help us when they are talking millions, billions, and trillions!)
    Before we jump to conclusions (One way or the other.), let's see what the real numbers are, and what's up.

  9. Poor Marco. Apparently never holding a real job and earning an honest living caught up with the Golden One. Of course he used the card for personal expenses, did you expect him to be able to live off of the pittance we pay our state legislators? That is why Sansom, Haridopolous and the rest set themselves up with BS jobs at the very places they control funding for. I still would have liked to have seen Marco speak to all of the unemployed families had he been Governor and turned down the stimulus on principle. He could have told him that worn out story of his Grandparents and their hard work. This guy has been in politics since his days in Law School. Go get a real job Marco and see what it is like to be one of the people you purport to so well represent. What a joke!

  10. Gee I don't want to rain on the Rubio bash party, but Crist put his guy Greer in at RPOF, Greer decided who got the cards and what the rules were, Greer paid the bills and apparently didn't dispute the charges at the time. Now someone leaked the info on only one of the numerous cards, Rubio's. The Speaker of the House had a card. The President of the Senate had a card. Did the Governor and the LG have a card too?

  11. Rubio’s Double Billing Scheme
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/marco-rubio-double-billing-of-flights-was-in-291173.html

    For those of you that didn’t catch this article or its significance, I hope you take the time to understand the implications of this new issue. Due to the release of the Rubio’s damaging RPOF AMEX card statements, he is only now coming clean on eight airline tickets that he submitted reimbursement claims to both the RPOF and the State of Florida. Therefore, this scheme doubled his money regarding these expenses.

    Oddly enough, in his defense the Rubio Campaign says in this article that they “could find only eight flights between 2006-2008 which were paid for the state,” while “hundreds of flights” were taken during this time frame. So if we are to believe that this was not a deliberate attempt to take advantage of the system, his position, the RPOF contributors and the Florida Tax payers, then we will have to believe that for some reason he changed a reimbursement/expense practice that had been repeated hundreds of times for several years.

    Why would he accidently choose only these eight flights to submit to the State, and not realize as he stumbled through a different reporting process in order to get his money that an error was being made?

    Why is he reimbursing the RPOF and not the State of Florida?

    A cynical reader would surmise that by admitting he should not have submitted the request to the State of Florida, that it would trigger an audit and a criminal investigation in to all reimbursement requests he made to the State. Being exposed to a false reimbursement claim against the State of Florida would be made against a public entity and therefore pursued by proper legal authorities. An “accidental” submittal to the RPOF may be forgiven, as it is not a private organization and the “oversight” would avoid criminal investigation.

    When something just doesn’t make sense, there is usually more to the story. It seems as if this ball of yarn is just now beginning to unravel.

    • Sorry, there is a typo above. Second to the last paragraph, the RPOF is a private organization. I know that is obvious, but I didn't want to create confusion.

  12. Even with ALL of the expenses listed in the story you referenced
    http://www.jaxobserver.com/2010/02/25/a-closer-look-at-rubios-credit-card-use/

    the total still only comes to only $6,170. Where is the other $10,000 dollars that Marco Rubio personally paid to AMEX for non-party expenses?

    I just don't think it's fair to go on about what he spent if you cant show that he was following the rules by personally paying AMEX for personal expenses. Like I said before, "Where are those records?" How come they are not available?

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  1. A Closer Look at Rubio’s Credit Card Use | The Jacksonville Observer