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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-10 03:45 PM
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Floridians are looking forward to weighing in on Tea Party's Rubio running for Senate.
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The Tea Party's little darling's latest denial of anything that smells like responsibility....

Rubio denies responsibility for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse funding

Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, right, talks to reporters as Gov. Charlie Crist, looks on before signing into law a property tax reform bill June 21, 2007. (AP file photo)

William March writes:

September 16, 2010

TAMPA - Marco Rubio, who was state House speaker when a controversial courthouse in Tallahassee called the 'Taj Mahal' was put in the state budget, is denying responsibility for it.

Rubio said Wednesday the proposal for the courthouse, which has been criticized as too luxurious in a time of severe budget constraints, originated in the Senate, not the House, which he controlled; and that it wasn't the Legislature's job to scrutinize building plans.

A Republican running for the U.S. Senate, Rubio also denied responsibility for another controversial project pushed through the state House during his tenure as speaker, an airplane hangar disguised as an educational building.

That project led to indictment of former state Rep. Ray Sansom, whom Rubio had chosen as House budget chief. It allegedly was intended to benefit a private jet business owned by a political contributor allied with Sansom.

Rubio said the legislation for the airport project was so well disguised it fooled all legislators and that disguise was the basis of the indictment.

Asked about the courthouse in an interview with the Tampa Tribune editorial board, Rubio, said, "That specific spending priority emerged from the Senate."


The project went through the Legislature in 2007 when Rubio, as speaker, had control over House legislation. It was included in an amendment added on the final day of the session to a 137-page transportation appropriations bill.


But, he said, "Ultimately, as I said, it's not a priority we pushed through the House, it's something that came over from the Senate, I believe on the last day of session.

"The reality of it is that there are two chambers, as I learned in my years in Tallahassee, and in order to finish the people's work within 60 days, there's a give and take involved."

And, as we've seen, with Marco Rubio, it's mostly "TAKE".

Marco Rubio tied to another secret legislative deal during Florida House Speakership in 2007, (Approval for "Taj Mahal" courthouse) September 2, 2010

Florida roots of today's Tea Party will haunt us for years to come.

Marco Rubio faces new financial scrutiny over foreclosure on Tallahassee property, June 19, 2010

Marco Rubio and the FLGOP Credit Card Scandal, February 27, 2010

Marco Rubio spent big with little scrutiny, March 13, 2010

U.S. attorney, IRS and FBI investigating Florida GOP credit card use, April 21, 2010

FL House Speaker Marco Rubio's budget wording benefits ally (Inserts stealth language), April 8, 2008

Marco Rubio downplays relationship with FIU, December 14, 2009

Miami Herald: Why Rubio's equity loan is our business, April 2, 2008

Jeb Bush's ideological heir, Marco Rubio, quietly registers to run for US Senate, March 5, 2009

Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio failed to disclose loan, March 28, 2008

Marco Rubio under scrutiny for racking up nearly $110 thousand on GOP credit card., February 25, 2010

Rubio would welcome Palin's endorsement, November 10, 2009

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) said on Monday that he would welcome the endorsement of ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska).

The conservative insurgent candidate challenging Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) said that Palin's endorsement would be more than appropriate because they agree on nearly every issue.

Amid scandal after scandal, Florida Republican-controlled Legislature considers ethics reform, February 28, 2010

Rubio lashes out as stressful term winds down: Destroys public documents, April 24, 2008

St. Petersburg Times: Rubio's dubious expenses demonstrate attitude of entitlement, February 26, 2010

FL State House Speaker Marco Rubio hires consultants to examine investment mess (Lehman) (And they are *friends* of Jeb), February 26, 2008

Liz Cheney joins policy advisory committee for Jeb's apprentice, Marco Rubio, June 1, 2010

RPOF to release only 3 years of AmEx statements (2007-2009); Rubio used card from 2005-2008, April 23, 2010 (What are you hiding, Mr. Thrasher?)

Jeb Bush's ideological heir, FL House Speaker Marco Rubio, calculates next political move., May 16, 2008

Rubio is indeed, Jeb's Chosen One., May 13, 2007

House Speaker Marco Rubio's budget wording benefits ally (Inserts stealth language), April 8, 2008

As Florida House Speaker, Marco Rubio exempted Miami's Dosal Tobacco Company from tobacco settlement tax (significant campaign donor), April 21, 2010

During the two years that Marco Rubio was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, a tobacco company that was a significant donor to Rubio was uniquely spared from legislation that would have required it to abide by the state's settlement with tobacco companies.

The Dosal Tobacco Company is a powerful player in the Miami Cuban-American community. A relatively small company before the major tobacco settlement, it was exempted from the tobacco settlement that would have required it to pay the same tax as its competitors. That advantage has helped it grow to the point where it is now the third-largest seller in the Florida market. The state of Mississippi, where Dosal is also sold, requires it to pay the same tax as the other companies. But not Florida.

"If Dosal can afford to pay their fair share for the health costs of tobacco users in Mississippi, why shouldn't they pay in Florida?" said former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth in an April 6 letter to Senate President Jeff Atwater urging an up-or-down vote on proposed Florida legislation to impose a fee on non-settling manufacturers. Dosal didn't return a call requesting comment.

Forget a vote. While Rubio was House Speaker, the bill didn't even get introduced.


Florida House speaker Marco Rubio pushes more tax cuts, April 3, 2008

Secret deal-makings by GOP angers many (Rubio-led Florida Legislature), October 8, 2007

Pricey GOP consultant eludes state budget cuts (Rubio's $10,000/month consultant), October 8, 2008

FL Senate flips on'resign-to-run' (House Speaker Marco Rubio-R has eye on running for Governor), April 28, 2007

Jeb Bush machine still pushing religious school vouchers via Rubio operatives, December 17, 2007

Jeb Bush allies put pro-voucher plans on ballot (guts constitutional separation of church/state), April 28, 2008

Voucher deception on ballot for November, 2008 (Jeb Bush's devious plans again), May 20, 2008

Floridians, this is an emergency action call to help preserve our Constitution., March 21, 2008

'Welcome to Florida, home of sun, sand, a delusional governor and a heartless Legislature.', April 10, 2008

Dick Cheney Backs Rubio: Hell Block Obama From Restructuring Foundation Of Our Freedoms, April 22, 2010

Rubio: Extending Jobless Benefits Must Be Paid For, But Tax Cuts For The Rich Will Pay For Themselves, July 19, 2010

Rubio continues push for offshore drilling, May 4, 2010

Rubio is confused on immigration., May 8, 2010

Rubio is confused on health care too., June 24, 2010

West Miami records show Rubio voted for tax hikes despite his claim he never has, March 26, 2010

Marco Rubio, Florida Senate Candidate, Suggests Iran Needs More Guns, June 22, 2009

House Speaker Marco Rubio declines to take action in wake of prostitution charges brought against fellow Republican colleague, July 13, 2007

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of crooked candidate Marco Rubio, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW):

Marco Rubio is a candidate in the Republican primary for United States Senate from Florida. Mr. Rubio served 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives, including two years as the Speaker of the House.

Mr. Rubio is currently implicated in a federal criminal investigation for the misuse of Florida Republican Party credit cards during his time as Speaker. Specifically, the IRS is examining records to determining if Mr. Rubio and other party leaders personally benefitted from the credit card scheme. Legally, party credit cards can only be used for political activities, but Mr. Rubio and his staff charged many seemingly personal expenses on the cards including car repairs, and grocery purchases. Mr. Rubios chief of staff racked up thousands of dollars in expenses on behalf of Mr. Rubio on his card including dinners and a Rubio family trip to a Georgia resort.

Mr. Rubio also admitted he double-billed both the Republican Party and state taxpayers for eight flights totaling about $3,000 in 2007. Mr. Rubio promised to refund the party, because the trips were for official business, but had not as of April 20, 2010.

Additionally, Mr. Rubio inserted earmarks into the state budget for his personal financial gain. While preparing to leave his position in the Florida House of Representatives, he accepted a $69,000 per year, part-time, unadvertised professor position with Florida International University (FIU). When he was hired, FIU had a $32 million budget deficit and had cut 23 degree programs and 200 jobs. During his tenure in the House, Mr. Rubio helped steer at least $29 million to the university, leading FIUs president at the time to say that Mr. Rubio was worth every penny.

Similarly, Mr. Rubio was hired as a consultant for Jackson Memorial Hospital after he earmarked $20 million for the facility. Jackson Memorial paid Mr. Rubios firm $8,000 per month. The same firm, which also employed Mr. Rubios former aide, the wife of fellow Florida House Rep. Esteban Bovo, scored a $102,000 contract with Miami Childrens Hospital. At the time of the contract, Rep. Bovo was the Miami Childrens Hospital in-house lobbyist.

Furthermore, Mr. Rubio seems to have misused two political committees for personal gain. Mr. Rubios committee likely violated state law by failing to disclose $34,000 worth of expenses in 2003 and 2004 including a $7,000 payment to Mr. Rubio. While other Floridian candidates tend to itemize travel expenses, Mr. Rubio billed more than $51,000 in unidentified travel expenses to his committee. The same committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who is listed as its treasurer. Another Rubio political committee listed $14,000 in payments to family members, at least one of whom had a non-existent address.

Mr. Rubio has been criticized for giving preferential treatment to the Dosal Tobacco Company. Dosal had been a significant donor to Mr. Rubios campaigns and was a prominent player in Mr. Rubios Cuban-American constituency. Due to loopholes in Florida tobacco regulations resulting from a 1997 settlement reached by the state with big tobacco companies, Dosal had been able to avoid a significant per pack surcharge levied on most other tobacco companies. Since at least 2004, the Florida House debated closing the loopholes, but in 2007 and 2008, when Mr. Rubio was the very powerful Speaker of the House, no loophole fix bill was even introduced.

Moreover, Mr. Rubio secretly inserted language into the so called proviso language, passed along with the state budget, to increase the chances that Max Alvarez, a close friend and a political contributor to Mr. Rubio, would win a contract with the Florida Department of Transportation. Mr. Alvarez, who considers Mr. Rubio like a son, owns a small fuel business, which would not have been allowed to compete for a Florida Turnpike contract under the original language of the budget. Mr. Alvarez approached Mr. Rubio to insert the favorable language allowing his business to bid on the contract. Governor Charlie Crist eventually vetoed the bill underlying the proviso language.

How am I doin', Daddy?

(cross-posted from GD)

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