Ask Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and he himself will say it: he’s not part of the 1 percent. And a Tuesday report in The New York Times goes into detail about the 2016 candidate’s fraught financial history, which includes using the Florida Republican party’s credit card for personal purchases, buying multiple houses, and appointing unqualified family members to serve in political positions with fiscal responsibility.
The piece notes that Rubio, like many Americans, carries credit card debt, and has had to grapple with mortgages and paying off student loans. What sets Rubio’s financial troubles apart from those of many Americans, however, is that Rubio’s had the long-time financial support of billionaire Norman Braman, a major campaign donor who helped fund Rubio’s job as a college instructor, hired Rubio as a lawyer, and continues to employ his wife.
Here are the five key takeaways from the Times story:
Throughout Rubio’s rise there are examples of Rubio using the Florida Republican Party credit card for personal purchases. The Times said that he once used the card for a paving project at his house and, separately, used it for a family reunion. Rubio said the reunion charge was an accident and that he used the wrong card for the pavement project. In both cases Rubio reimbursed the Florida Republican Party.
There are multiple instances of Rubio putting family members in important political roles, the Times said. His wife Jeanette, for instance, served as the treasurer of a pro-Rubio political action committee, which Rubio called a bad idea.
But there’s more. The Times said one PAC “was used to reimburse the couple thousands of dollars for meals, gas and long-distance calls.” Three relatives worked for another PAC. Close friends also worked for the PACs. Rubio’s supporters said the hirings occurred when then-Gov. Charlie Crist had the most of the GOP operatives in Florida locked up in his own campaign.
Perhaps the most complex aspect of Rubio’s financial history is how he ended up with three houses. The Times explained:
First, he bought a house in Tallahassee with another state lawmaker for $135,000, again putting no money down.
Then, by the end of 2005, the Rubios completed the purchase of a new home, twice the size of their previous one, for $550,000. The house, among the more expensive in West Miami, stood out from the aging homes nearby: It includes an in-ground pool, a handsome brick driveway, meticulously manicured shrubs and oversize windows.
Within a few weeks of the home purchase, Mr. Rubio, then a Republican leader in the House, borrowed $135,000 through a home equity line to pay for improvements to the house, from a politically connected Miami-based bank, U.S. Century, after the house was reappraised at $735,000.
Suddenly the owner of three homes, the Rubios saw their liabilities soar to $1 million from $330,000 in just a year. Harold Evensky, a longtime financial adviser who reviewed Mr. Rubio’s public financial disclosures at the request of The Times, called the rapid accumulation of debt “staggering.”
One of the more extravagant expenses Rubio purchases was an $80,000 24-foot luxury speedboat, according to state records. This came when Rubio was delivering speeches where he described his plan to pay off his law school loans. But, he told a close friend according to the Times, he could not resist buying the boat to fulfill a dream.
The snap reaction from conservatives was that the Times story was really a thinly-veiled piece of opposition research pushed either by Democrats or competing Republican presidential campaigns.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) June 7, 2015
Big bad NYT runs “hit piece” saying Rubio got some speeding tickets! Has expensive house! Weird that NYT missed this: http://t.co/BcpoBwMv9X
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) June 9, 2015
Silly commoner. How dare he think he can run for President. http://t.co/qYCgM7RqBT
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 9, 2015