Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2002 used his position as majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives to help his brother-in-law, a convicted drug trafficker just released from prison, obtain a real estate license in the state, according to a Washington Post report.
Rubio sent a letter to the Florida Division of Real Estate recommending Orlando Cicilia for a license, but did not disclose that Cicilia was married to his sister, Barbara, according to records obtained by the Post. Rubio only wrote that he had known Cicilia for more than 25 years. Cicilia was also living with Rubio’s parents at the time, and still lives with Rubio’s mother, according to the Post.
The state of Florida approves the licenses of convicted felons on a case-by-case basis and granted Cicilia a license after a hearing before the Real Estate Division in 2002, according to the Post.
Cicilia was convicted in 1989 of distributing more that $15 million worth of cocaine, and he served more than 11 years in prison.
Rubio declined to comment on Cicilia’s case to the Washington Post or say whether he received financial assistance from his brother-in-law.
In a statement to the Post, Rubio campaign adviser Todd Harris defended Rubio’s decision to help his brother-in-law without disclosing their relationship.
“Orlando made some very big mistakes almost 30 years ago, served his time, and has paid his debt to society,” Harris wrote in an email. “Today he is a private citizen, husband and father, simply trying to make a living. It is appalling and shameful that The Washington Post continues to drag him into the spotlight.”
“Marco has recommended scores of Floridians for various professional positions and after Orlando paid his debt to society, Marco was happy to recommend him as well. He believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative,” Harris continued.
Read the full report at the Washington Post.