Game Changer? Rubio Charged Grocery Bills And Car Repairs To GOP-Issued Credit Card

February 24, 2010 6:15 p.m.

Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, car repairs and a number of other personal expenses to a GOP-issued credit card during his tenure as speaker of the state’s House, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

Records obtained by the newspaper show that during his time as speaker, from 2005 to 2008, Rubio charged $13,900 in personal expenses on the American Express the party issued him. That includes $1,000 for repairs to the Rubio family car. Among the other charges, which were covered by the party as “political expenses”:

• $765 at Apple’s online store for “computer supplies.”

• $25.76 from Everglades Lumber for “supplies.”

• $53.49 at Winn-Dixie in Miami for “food.”

• $68.33 at Happy Wine in Miami for “beverages” and “meal.”

• $78.10 for two purchases at Farm Stores groceries in suburban Miami.

• $412 at All Fusion Electronics, a music equipment store in Miami, for “supplies.”

Rubio has become something of a conservative darling in recent months, and is seen by many as a favorite to knock off moderate Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida’s Senate primary. The latest Rasmussen poll gives Rubio a 54-36 lead over Crist.

In a letter to party chair John Thrasher, Rubio called the leak of his credit card statement an “appalling act of desperation” from the Crist campaign. Rubio blamed former party chair (and Crist ally) Jim Greer for giving the records to the newspaper.

It is clear these internal documents were taken from the RPOF by former Chairman Jim Greer, or someone working for him, and were leaked to the media by the Crist Campaign.

These actions are an appalling act of political desperation. The idea that the former chairman of the RPOF, or those working for the Governor, would selectively leak internal RPOF documents is disturbing.

He explained his expenditures this way:

When it came to incurring expenses, I erred on the side of caution and maintained two operating principles: If it was questionable as to whether the expense was state or Party related, I tried to err on the side of saving taxpayer money by charging that expense to the Party. If it was a question between Party expenses or personal expenses, I tried to err on the side of protecting Party money by paying personally for those charges directly.

During the period in question, there was no formal process provided by the Party regarding personal charges made on an AMEX account. At no time during my four years as a cardholder did the party ask me to provide additional information about, or personally pay, any of the charges I submitted for payment. I always took it upon myself to identify and directly pay American Express for all non-official expenses.

The party, it seems, does not necessarily agree.

Spokesperson Katie Gordon told the newspaper that the American Express card “is a corporate card and is meant to be used for business expenses.”

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