Seven of Hearts: Marco Rubio U.S. Senator (FL)

 

 

 

 

Rubio dismisses Trump’s NATO comments: ‘Zero concern’

LAUREN SFORZA

02/11/24

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday dismissed former President Trump’s remarks on NATO, saying he’s confident he knows what Trump will do when it comes to the alliance should he win the White House again.

Rubio attempted to defend Trump’s comments at a rally on Saturday, where the former president said he warned a foreign leader that if that country didn’t contribute enough to the alliance, then Russia can “do whatever the hell they want.” Trump has long expressed his grievance at countries that do not contribute their fair share to NATO, which Rubio said is a complaint other former presidents had as well.

 

Rubio declines to criticize Trump over comments on Haley’s husband

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/11/rubio-trump-haley-husband-00140847

As the Florida senator pursues his third Senate term, he’s adjusting old habits and staying out of the spotlight — and the bipartisan gun talks.

By BURGESS EVERETT

06/13/2022

Rubio mostly avoided friction with Trump during the latter’s presidency, focusing instead on boosting child tax credits in the 2017 GOP tax law and striking a bipartisan deal to create the sprawling Paycheck Protection Act in response to the pandemic.

He did vote to certify the 2020 election against Trump’s wishes, though Trump nonetheless quickly endorsed Rubio’s reelection bid. Rubio doesn’t emphasize his relationship with Trump: “I’m busy here at work; he’s doing what he’s doing. But if there’s some reason to talk, we will.”

Rubio says his and Trump’s visions aren’t that different even as their approaches diverge. He won’t say if he wants Trump to run again, but predicts that if Trump does, the former president would win the nomination and probably beat President Joe Biden.

 

ABC anchor calls out Sen. Marco Rubio during tense exchange over Chinese spy balloon: ‘This happened 3 times under the previous president’

“PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time,” a senior defense official said at the Pentagon’s news conference.

Cheryl Teh

Updated February 6, 2023

  • ABC’s Jonathan Karl called out Sen. Marco Rubio during a tense exchange about the Chinese spy balloon.
  • Rubio said Biden should not have “waited so long” to tell people about the balloon.
  • But Karl said Trump did not disclose three balloon sightings that happened during his term.

 

Marco Rubio: Not going to turn over GOP to ‘con artist’ Donald Trump

By David Wright, CNN

February 26, 2016

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump’s vicious debate battle

https://www.cnn.com/2016/02/26/politics/marco-rubio-donald-trump-morning-show-attacks/index.html

CNN  — 

Hours after locking horns with Donald Trump at CNN’s Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio continued to batter the GOP presidential front-runner, repeatedly calling him a “con artist” and saying he is “wholly unprepared to be president of the United States.”

 

Marco Rubio haunted by allegations over Florida ‘slush fund’ and spending

As speaker of state House of Representatives, 2016 White House hopeful was accused of using conservative action committee dollars for private expenditure

Richard Luscombe 

 Jun 7, 2015 

Last modified on Fri 14 Jul 14, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/06/marco-rubio-campaign-funds

It is an episode that Marco Rubio had hoped was long forgotten – a federal investigation and top-to-toe examination of the Florida GOP’s financial trickery at the end of the last decade that saw the state’s party chairman jailed for grand theft and money laundering and another senior Republican facing corruption charges.

Rubio, who was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009, emerged unscathed as agents from the US attorney’s office, Internal Revenue Service, FBI and the Florida department of law enforcement examined a number of senior party figures.

But now that he is running for president, and enjoying a popularity surge that placed him top of the crowded field of Republican White House hopefuls in last week’s CNN/ORC poll, questions over Rubio’s fiscal propriety appear to be coming back to haunt his campaign. Opponents will seize on his misuse of a party-issued credit card, and separate accusations that he treated hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to two conservative action committees he established before he became speaker as a personal slush fund.

“There’s no other way of putting it than saying he raised money to travel and to go for fine-dining meals when the purpose of those committees was to help elect candidates running for public office,” said Christian Ulvert, a senior Democratic adviser who was the opposition party’s communications chief in Florida when Rubio was speaker.

“If it’s 25 to 35K over a year you’d be saying is that a big deal, and rightfully so. But when you’re talking around $300,000 dollars that’s a different story. That’s a big chunk of change. It’s clear there was lack of accountability and fiscal discipline.”

Set up ostensibly for “education” and “to support state and local candidates who espouse conservative government policies”, the committees, according to investigations by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, paid tens of thousands of dollars in “reimbursements for expenses” to Rubio and several family members, another $150,000 for “office/operating and administrative costs”, up to $50,000 in vague credit card charges covering travel, food and lodging, and many thousands more in “consultancy fees”.

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who lost to Rubio in the 2010 US Senate election, accused his opponent of enriching himself through private “slush funds”. Rubio’s then campaign adviser Todd Harris admitted that the bookkeeping “was not always perfect”.

During the separate federal investigation, which began in 2010, little more than a year after Rubio left office, IRS agents looked closely at lavish personal spending that appeared on American Express cards issued by the state GOP to Rubio, then-chairman Jim Greer and other state party leaders.

Tax exemption rules for political parties limit spending to legitimate political activities including fundraising. Yet more than $100,000 in charges that appeared on Rubio’s bills during his two years as speaker included bills for groceries, liquor, a $10,000 family vacation to Georgia and some expensive car repairs. The image-conscious politician even splurged $134 on a haircut at a prestigious Miami salon.

When the Herald and Times inquiry exposed the details, Rubio acknowledged the spending as a misunderstanding and paid back more than $16,000.

“I was as diligent as possible to ensure the party did not pay for items that were unrelated to party business,” Rubio said in a written statement at the time. “There was no formal process provided by the party regarding personal charges.”

Rubio also pointed out that the damage to his family minivan was caused by parking attendants while he was at a political event, and that the party had agreed to cover some of the cost.

The IRS inquiry quietly went away, leaving Rubio free to fight for and win election to the US Senate later that year. An IRS spokesman told the Guardian he could not comment on individual investigations.

Senior party allies under scrutiny alongside Rubio, however, were not so fortunate.

After a lengthy investigation, Greer, chair of the Florida Republican Party from 2006 until he resigned in 2010, pleaded guilty to fraud and theft charges over a crooked fundraising scheme. He served 15 months of an 18-month sentence.

Ray Sansom, Rubio’s successor as speaker who resigned in 2009, faced grand theft and conspiracy charges for misappropriation of tax dollars in an unrelated episode before prosecutors dropped all charges in 2011.

Greer was widely seen as the scapegoat for the party’s financial scandals during the Rubio era. Before accepting the plea deal, he hinted he knew where the bodies were buried. He promised his 2013 trial would be “a Shakespearean play where everyone dies in the end” and speculation was rife that Rubio, on a list of 117 potential witnesses in the case, was among the leading party figures whose secrets Greer was about to reveal.

In his book The Chairman, released shortly before he was freed from jail last summer, Greer accused Rubio of hypocrisy for calling for audits to secure greater oversight of state spending while at the same time he was spending freely. He described Rubio as “smart, ruthless and always scheming”.

To Rubio’s camp, which already appears to be weary of the renewed interest in his fiscal activities, all of this is old news. In reply to specific questions from the Guardian about Rubio’s credit card spending and financial controversies over his tenure as Florida House speaker, press secretary Brooke Sammon replied only that her boss “addresses much of this in his first book”.

In March, in a Business Insider report, Sammon said the stories were “nothing more than proven inaccuracies and false attacks from liberals trying to distract from Senator Rubio’s optimistic vision for our country in the 21st century”.

While the Florida GOP did release some of the credit card bills, Rubio has always steadfastly refused to reveal those from the time before he became speaker, calling them “an internal party matter.” In his book, An American Son, a chronicle of his early political career, Rubio denied any intentional wrongdoing, and during a 2012 interview with Fox News he explained that he would directly pay off the personal expenses each month as the bills arrived, and that the party never paid them. The issue, he insisted, “was totally resolved years ago”.

Yet the questions are certain to keep coming up as the 2016 candidate’s closets are rifled through for skeletons. Another test will come over his close friendship with David Rivera, a controversial former member of the Florida House with whom he owned a house in Tallahassee shared during their time in office together. The property was in foreclosure in 2010 until Rubio made a payment to clear mortgage arrears. But the three-bedroom house, and Rubio’s friendship with a disgraced politician under federal and state ethics investigations for alleged illegal campaign activities, remains a liability. Sammon would not address a question about the Rubio-Rivera relationship.

The controversies from Rubio’s bumpy two years as speaker also run to his handling of the state’s purse strings. He was dogged by criticism over an upscale refurbishment of his suite of offices and members-only areas in the state capitol, questions over pay raises for his senior staff, and suspicion over helping to steer millions in state money to a university at which he accepted a position as a well-paid part-time professor of politics when he left office.

He also fell out with others in his own party, especially then-governor Crist, over finances, and he had two committee chairman stripped of their authority for voting against his vision on property insurance reform.

“It was Marco’s way or no way,” Ulvert said. “As is true for all Republican colleagues in the legislature, they want to say they’re fiscal conservatives but it’s in convenience only. They go around the state parading those terms, but when you look at their spending habits, it’s far from it.”

“History shows that autocrats always tell you who they are and what they are going to do.”
“We just don’t listen until it is too late.”

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— Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present”