The Surprising Details Behind Marco Rubio’s Use Of The Florida GOP’s Credit Card
As Marco Rubio’s polling numbers in the race for the GOP presidential nomination creep towards the realm of the party’s other formidable contenders, questions regarding the Florida senator’s finances are providing an unwelcome distraction to his campaign.
ABC News recently obtained statements from 2007 and 2008 detailing Rubio’s use of a credit card issued to the Republican Party of Florida. The candidate’s campaign followed up by releasing statements from 2005 and 2006. The documents reveal extensive use of the GOP account for expenses related to entertainment and travel, along with other miscellaneous charges.
ABC News listed a number of the charges made during Rubio’s time with the GOP credit card on Saturday, including these noteworthy transactions:
- Nine purchases from florists for a total of $709 over the two-year period.
- Food and hotel charges, including almost $1,800 for food or stays at Walt Disney World properties.
- Hotel charges in Rubio’s hometown of Miami, including $308.98 from a stay in February 2007, with a $260.91 food and beverage charge.
- An August 2007 trip to Boston, included food and hotel charges adding up to $1,221.
- Travel expenses for Rubio’s wife Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio, including a $328.80 Delta Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to Miami and $444.40 for a flight from Miami to Tallahassee and a $723.60 United Airlines ticket for Rubio’s wife from Miami to Denver to Aspen.
Quoting a report by Politico, Think Progress noted that Marco Rubio also used the Florida Republican party’s American Express card to pay for a $5,000 week-long stay at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Rubio’s camp noted that the senator was on hand for a fund-raising event but added that he eventually paid 30 percent of that bill “to reflect … that part of his trip was personal.” Rubio also used the card to charge $10,000 for travel expenses related to a family reunion and around $1,000 for repair to his minivan. Charges to grocery stores, a lumber yard and an electronics store also appear of a personal nature. Rubio has described at least one of the aforementioned purchases as accidental.
In crunching the numbers, Politico’s report acknowledges Rubio’s claims that he actually spent less than others in similar government positions as well as the senator’s assertions that he reimbursed the Florida GOP for any expenses that weren’t related to party business. Nevertheless, the charge account at issue was intended for official use only, as noted by a Florida Republican Party.
“The RPOF American Express card is a corporate card and is meant to be used for business expenses,” party spokeswoman Katie Gordon told a Florida newspaper back in 2010 when questions first arose regarding Rubio’s spending.
GOP guidelines for party transactions are buttressed by IRS rules that restrict spending to the sole purpose of “influencing elections,” noted the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s use of his party’s credit card is but one of a number of concerns regarding his financial history, leading to reservations from some regarding how the candidate might potentially handle America’s budget in the event that he wins the 2016 election. During the CNBC debate, Becky Quirk also raised Rubio’s previous issues with property foreclosure and the liquidation of one of his retirement accounts as potential evidence of his ineptitude when it comes to money. For his part, Rubio dismissed the incidents cited by Quirk, referring to them as “discredited,” according to Politifact.
Indeed, Marco Rubio steadfastly denies wrongdoing with regard to his public and personal spending, brushing off barbs by fellow GOP contender Donald Trump with particular candor. In a public rebuttal to critiques leveled by the real estate mogul, Rubio effectively slammed Trump for his numerous bankruptcy filings. Rubio also downplayed the controversy surrounding his finances in his comments published by the New York Times and other news outlets.
“This campaign is about the finances of the American people and about the finances of a nation that owes $19 trillion in debt and about millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Marco Rubio.
[Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images]