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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-10 03:45 PM
Original message
Floridians are looking forward to weighing in on Tea Party's Rubio running for Senate.
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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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-10 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. Rubio aligns with global-warming deniers Koch Brothers; Glenn Beck evangelical David Barton
We've got another 6.5 weeks of extremist crazy coming our way.

Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle

This explains why Rubio is so hot for offshore oil drilling... he loves their money.

Marco Rubio Gets Big Campaign Bucks From Oil Giant Koch Industries

September 14, 2010


Brothers Charles and David Koch, who own nearly all of the Kansas-based Koch Industries conglomerate, are renowned for giving millions of dollars to right-wing causes, especially think tanks and front groups that deny the existence of global warming. A recent Greenpeace report on the company found that from 2005 to 2008, Koch Industries-controlled foundations vastly outspent ExxonMobil in contributions to groups that are part of the "climate denial machine."


Americans for Prosperity, a foundation that David Koch started, works closely with the Tea Party, so it's little wonder the Kochs have chosen to bestow a small chunk of their wealth on Rubio, rather than, say, Charlie Crist.

But in a tough Senate race after a massive oil spill, does Rubio really want to accept hefty donations from Big Oil? His campaign spokesman has not yet responded to a request for comment. We'll update when/if he does.

And yesterday, a Rubio event at Alaqua Country Club, headlined by Glenn Beck's evangelical pal and Tea Party fave, David Barton

David Barton, Marco Rubio and American Exceptionalism

Orlando Sentinel
September 15, 2010

Senate candidate Marco Rubio revved up a crowd of about 200 supporters at the Alaqua Country Club Wednesday, but Rubio had a little help from the guy who introduced him.

David Barton primed the pump with his brand of America first, last and always political/religious revivalism. If youve not yet heard of Barton, named in 2005 as one of Times most influential evangelicals, theres a good chance you will soon. Hes a favorite of the Tea Party movement and has emerged as Glenn Becks go-to-guy for all things historical.

Bartons primary message Wednesday and most days is that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, was intended to be a Christian nation and would be a whole lot better if everyone started buying into that. Barton traces a number of social ills, for example, back to the prohibition of compulsory prayer in public schools.

Barton is an engaging ball of energy, riffing on the Founding Fathers and proclaiming American Exceptionalism a staple of Rubios stump speech. Trouble is, many historians and religion researchers say Bartons scholarship doesnt match his salesmanship.

Critics say he bends historical events to suit his Christian worldview.


Barton, for example, has declared the separation of church and state to be mythical, claiming that Thomas Jefferson, when he coined the phrase, meant for the wall to be one-directional designed to protect the church from government interference but never intended to remove Christianity from government. Most historians dismiss his interpretation as badly off the mark.

Wednesday, Bartons penchant for absolutes was on display. He told his audience that of the 192 members of the United Nations, America stood alone as a beacon of stability.

Were a very blessed nation, he said. We happen to be the only nation that does not average a revolution every 30 to 40 years. Of 192 nations, were the only one with that type of stability.

Asked later about the accuracy of that after all, Canada and England had pretty stable 20th Centuries Barton said he was speaking figuratively.

They're coming out of the woodwork now.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-10 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
2. Marco Rubio: 'No reason to release my earlier credit card statements.'
What are you hiding, Rubio?

Rubio: No reason to release my earlier credit card statements

September 17, 2010

Adam Smith reports:

He did not talk to reporters after the Univisin debate in Miami Friday, but GOP Senate hopeful Marco Rubio did take some questions at the West Miami opening of a Republican Party of Florida office. And the focus of the questions was not on the debate. What, we wanted to know, did Rubio think of the audit released earlier in the day of the party's books?

"The audit confirms what we've been saying all along, and that is that we acted appropriately," Rubio said. "In those instances where there were charges on Republican Party credit cards that were not politically related, I paid for them out of my own pocket -- at the time, not after the fact."

Would Rubio be willing to have the party release his American Express credit card reports from before Gov. Charlie Crist, running against Rubio as an independent, began leading the RPOF in 2007?

"Its a party decision," Rubio said. "No one ever questioned spending at the party before Jim Greer took over. There were tight fiscal constraints in the party before that time. There was never a spending problem until Charlie Crist put Jim Greer in charge of the RPOF."

Then Rubio turned the focus on the economy.
"The most important announcement today has nothing to do with this audit," he said. "The most important announcement today is that unemployment in Florida is at 11.7 percent. That a million Floridians are out of work."

We think the first 2 years Rubio held a party credit card are significant. Rubio doesn't, apparently. No siree, nothing to see about his purchases in 2005 and 2006, when he was Speaker-Designate.

It's actually quite laughable that after all of the hoopla about the RPOF "audit" released today by avowed Crist enemy John Thrasher, it actually comes up short of finding any actual evidence of inappropriate charges by Crist. Now that Thrasher has released all of these lies and innuendo, he hopes the damage has been done. This has really been a transparent attempt to use this piecemeal audit as a weapon against Crist.

Thrasher: No Crist smoking gun in audit

Central Florida Political Pulse blog
Posted by Aaron Deslatte

September 16, 2010

TALLAHASSEE The long-awaited forensic audit of the Republican Party of Floridas books has found that hundreds of thousands in spending on travel, meals, and other luxurious living racked up by indicted former chairman Jim Greer was inappropriate. The GOP could even opt to go to court to get its money back.

But the audit ordered last spring after Greers secret fundraising contract and lavish spending were revealed did not connect any of those dollars to Gov. Charlie Crist, even though the current chairman said Wednesday the governor had to know this was going on. (((:eyes:)))

It seems to me to affirm the concerns we have been talking about for over a year, said RPOF Chairman John Thrasher, a state senator. (((:eyes:)))

Thrasher said that the party will release the audit of the nearly $7 million in credit-card expenses run up during Greers three-year regime on Friday. Besides questionable spending by Greer and his hand-picked former director Delmar Johnson, the report also identified questionable expenses by former House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, including a trip he took with his family to Europe. (((:think:)))

But the 43-page audit by the Atlanta firm of Alston & Bird will give a pass to other lawmakers who held party plastic, Thrasher said, and none of the expenses can be directly tied to Crist who plucked Greer from obscurity to make him state chairman in 2007.

Thrasher said the report categorizes expenses by Greer and Johnson that auditors found werent related to party business, other expenses that were probably not related, Greers air travel, and a slice of donor money funneled through a shell company he and Johnson created called Victory Strategies. Greer is facing felony charges of theft and money laundering related to Victory Strategies.

Thrasher said Wednesday that neither appears to have the financial means to pay the party back. In July, Greer tried to reimburse the party for some expenses, but his check for $7,339.21 bounced.

Although none of the spending can be directly tied to Crist, Thrasher said it was clear that Greer and the governor were traveling together (((:eyes:))) to New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even to the Fisher Island home of Crists wife on the party dime.

Theres certainly enough there that in my view, the people most interested in this would be the Internal Revenue Service for unjust enrichment, Thrasher said (((:eyes:)))

The decision to release the report completed weeks ago was made after a hurried conference call Wednesday with the partys executive committee, and came as numerous critics as well as the partys U.S. Senate candidate, Marco Rubio called for its release.

Marco Rubio, appearing Wednesday at Alaqua Country Club in Longwood, said the party should immediately make the full audit public.

Yes, now, he said, after delivering his stump speech to about 200 supporters. Thats why the audit was done. Its to clear the air, especially for the future of the party.

Rubio was among GOP leaders caught up early this year in the partys American Express card controversy. As incoming Florida House speaker, Rubio used the card for thousands of dollars of personal expenses. Both Rubio and the party say though he used the party Amex, he paid the bills.

But Thrasher said most party leaders received a clean financial bill of health. (((:wow:)))

That brought a quick response from attorneys for Greer and Johnson, who scoffed at the notion that only Crist and their clients men no longer tied to the party were implicated in any wrongdoing. Greers attorney, Damon Chase, also pointed out that early this year Thrasher and other GOP leaders signed documents saying spending under Greer was appropriate.

Were they lying then when they said everything was proper Chase asked, or are they lying now when they say its not?

Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner also (responded) by calling on the party to release all of Rubios credit-card records not just the expenses he incurred while Greer was chairman of the party.

Now that Republican party bosses have ended their partisan charade, they must immediately release all of Marco Rubios credit card records dating back to when he was Speaker-(Designate) to determine the extent to which he charged the party for personal expenses like family reunions and real estate payments, Kanner said.

That's what we all want to know as well, Mr. Kanner.

From the audit:


We note, however, that the increased level of spending during Greers tenure was
not inconspicuous to the leadership of the RPOF. For instance, much of the increased
spending related to fundraising events, meals, travel, and entertainment that involved
Republican elected officials and other members of the State Executive Board and
Executive Committee.


Moreover, it is possible that Greer fell out of favor because of his relationship with Governor Crist and the underlying political currents at the time.

This is a classic political witch hunt aimed at Governor Crist, engineered by John Thrasher, Jeb Bush's hit man.

Just for the record:

Charlie Crist bashed by RPOF audit. Dean Cannon, Jeff Kottkamp get a pass

September 17, 2010


The Republican Party of Florida issued what it said was an independent audit of its books -- and it just so happens that the "key findings" of the audit in an RPOF press release conveniently take its former leader and current Enemy No. 1, Gov. Charlie Crist, to task for being a spendthrift.

Also, RPOF decided to limit the audit to the 2007-2009 period, when Crist led the party. Nothing before or after.

That means an examination of the likely large charges by former House Speaker and current Crist opponent Marco Rubio is absent. So all that money incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon dropped at steak houses near his house? And the secret severance agreement with Jim Greer he and other leaders signed saying Greer's expenses were OK? Not much. Future House Speaker Chris Dorworth's appearance in Vegas with Greer? Barely a mention. And indicted former House Speaker Ray Samson's trip to jolly ole London? It seems absent as well (from the press release but not the audit). And speaking of Disney, what about Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp's trips to the Magic Kingdom and his whitewater (white-washing?) rafting? It's not in the audit at all.


Sen. Fasano: Fla GOP routinely picked up others' spouse expenses, September 17, 2010

Former Rubio budget chief Ray Sansom finds RPOF-paid electronics in 'storage'

September 17, 2010

Ray Sansom, the indicted former speaker of the Florida House whose American Express charges set off the controversy at the Republican Party of Florida, found in "storage" two laptops, DVD players, GPS units, computer accessories and a camera, according to the audit released today.

They were just some of the $10,486 Sansom spent at Best Buy using the party card. His lawyer said that he was asked to use the party card "in order to ensure that such items were not state owned and/or being used for political purposes."

Of the "storage" finds, "He offered to return them to the RPOF," the report states, "but given their age and unknown condition, the RPOF has agreed not to take the items back." (Delmar Johnson gave back a GPS unit and camera but in both cases he returned different, cheaper units than he purchased.)

The audit leaves many questions unanswered, such as when Sansom discovered the items and when he offered to give them back. Also auditors do not say why they flagged scores of expenses "primarily not related to RPOF business."

That includes a $2,112 for an Apple computer purchased in New York City, $320 in Cole Haan luggage, and thousands at Best Buy.

In all, Sansom spent $1,389 on books, newspapers and magazines, including Sports Illustrated and People.

"For all of Sansom's charges at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Nobles, Bookland and Borders, he indicated through his counsel that they were for suggested reading for House members, staff and others. Sansom, however, did not provide us with any further information about the charges."

The report also recounts how Sansom took his family with him to London as part of a Republican trip and adds that he brought along Melanie Phister, then an RPOF staffer who helped Sansom with House campaigns.


Let's not forget that Ray Sansom was Marco Rubio's hand-picked former budget chief.

How about it, Rubio? Your friends won't be able to hide your 2005-2006 RPOF credit card purchases when you were Speaker-Designate for much longer.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-10 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
3. Marco Rubio: 'English should be official US language; Arizona anti-immigrant law should be upheld'
...and he opposes legal status for undocumented workers and their children.

Vintage Marco Rubio.

During last night's first 2010 U. S. Senate debate in Florida with Meek, Crist and Rubio:

(Marco Rubio) was forced to take positions on several issues that likely put him at odds with the network's audience. Hispanic voters represent about 13 percent of the Florida electorate.

Rubio favors making English the official language of the United States and upholding Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants; he opposes allowing undocumented workers to earn legal status or granting citizenship to their children who attend college or serve in the military.

"What they're offering now is a bill that would in essence grant amnesty to 2 million people," Rubio said of the so-called DREAM Act, which Senate Democrats are seeking to bring up in a politically charged debate next week. "It's a cynical way to play politics with the lives of real people. This is what always happens with Hispanic voters in this country, they manipulate them come election time."

Both of Rubio's rivals, Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek, declared their support for the DREAM Act and more sweeping immigration reform, and their aversion to the Arizona law and English-only proposals. The Arizona law requires police to question suspected illegal immigrants, which critics say will lead to racial and ethnic profiling.

"We aren't supposed to discriminate against people because of what they might look like," Crist said. "I'm astounded that Speaker Rubio embraces this law."

Rubio tried to make it clear to the audience that he is one of them, even if they don't always agree. He repeatedly invoked his own family's immigrant success story, saying his Cuban parents "lost their country'' and moved to the United States to make a better life for their children.

Rubio ignored Meek, whose rise in the polls coincides with Crist's dip, and focused on trying to undermine the governor, who cast off his GOP affiliation four months ago on the verge of a primary election defeat.

"Everybody sees what you're doing. Everybody gets it," Rubio said, delivering the line as a stinging rebuke. "For 20 years, you ran as a Republican on the same things you are now criticizing me for."

In the first debate among the Florida candidates for U.S. Senate, Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and Republican state House Speaker Marco Rubio both used the occasion to attack Gov. Charlie Crist, whos running as an independent, rather than beat up on each other. (AP)

Just hours before the debate, the Republican Party of Florida released an audit of party spending that accused Crist of spending thousands of dollars in party money on family trips to Disney World and New York City. The audit made only a passing reference to Rubio's use of the party-issued American Express for personal expenses when he was House speaker.

"I'm an honest guy," Crist said. "If someone has questions to answer about what happened at the Republican Party of Florida, it is not your governor, it's your speaker of the House."

And that, is vintage John Thrasher.

via St. Petersburg Times

As head of the RPOF, Thrasher is now trying to use currently unfounded accusations of wild, unauthorized personal spending against Crist in order to derail his candidacy for Senate, in retaliation for Crist's leaving the Republican Party in April to run as an independent candidate for US Senate.

So far, all we've heard from Thrasher are such breathless, manufactured statements of Crist's "guilt" as:

Crist "may have spent", "may have inappropriately spent", Greer "may have made purchases for Crist"...

More from this Tampa Bay Online editorial:


Thrasher and the Republican hierarchy have been trying to trash Crist since he abandoned the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.

Thrasher is a former House speaker and influential lobbyist known for bulldozing opponents. He is hardly the most credible of sources.

One thing is clear: The Florida GOP needs to come clean on its spending scandal.


Thrasher told The Orlando Sentinel a forensic audit found that Crist, Greer and Delmar Johnson, the party's former executive director, may have inappropriately spent money on travel, consultants, meetings and other items not related to party business.

But unlike other party brass - including former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the GOP nominee for Senate - Crist did not have a party credit card. The cards were the source for most of the reported questionable spending.

Thrasher indicates Greer or Johnson may have made purchases for Crist. He should provide evidence.

Say what you will about Crist, but he has lived frugally throughout his political career. He did not own a home, and his net worth was less than $500,000 when he married Carole Rome, a wealthy New York heiress, in 2008.

If Crist has a taste for the high life, he has kept it well concealed.

Crist was a loyal Greer supporter, so he has some answering to do, too.

But so does Rubio, who used his party card to spend thousands on personal expenses that ranged from wine to minivan repairs. He apparently once had $10,000 billed to the party card for hotel rooms during a family reunion. But he stresses any money spent on personal expenses was paid back.

It is unclear why he used the party's credit card for personal expenses when he could have easily used his own. But he says he has nothing to hide and favors releasing the audit report.

The best way to clear up this mess is for Thrasher to reveal all the charges made by those who were issued cards, not just the audit report.

Voters deserve to know how whether Crist, Rubio and other elected official were abusing donors' dollars.

If what Thrasher says is true, Crist's political career is in jeopardy. If it's not true, Thrasher's should be.

Mean-spirited, extremist, vindictive, acid-tongued liars.

It's what remains of the Republican Party in Florida.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
4. Crist: GOP "audit" is a sham; Party bosses owe me an apology (produces receipts from Disney trip)
Thrasher and his RPOF continually demonstrate that they are nothing more than common street thugs determined to take out a rival.

Crist: GOP "audit" is a sham; Party bosses owe me an apology, September 18, 2010

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 12:19 PM
Response to Original message
5. Money matters follow Marco Rubio, while he preaches fiscal and personal responsibility
Money matters follow Rubio

By Zac Anderson
Herald Tribune

September 19, 2010

Marco Rubio took the stage in front of 2,000 cheering supporters in Sarasota earlier this month and delivered a stark warning: Government debt is destroying America.
"Government cannot continue to spend more money than it takes in!" exhorted the Republican U.S. Senate candidate.


For 16 months, Rubio has carried this message of fiscal responsibility to great applause across Florida.

What Rubio does not tell the crowds is that he has gone deep into debt and struggled to make his payments, with Deutsche Bank initiating foreclosure proceedings on one of his homes in June.

Rubio resolved the foreclosure case, but debt has been a constant companion. In 2005, he carried more than $1 million in debt with mortgages on three homes, a home equity line of credit, a car loan and more than $150,000 in student loans.

As he tried to meet his obligations, Rubio engaged in a series of financial transactions that led to accusations that he received special treatment because of his political connections, abused campaign cash and engaged in deals where a conflict of interest existed between his political position and financial benefit.

Such deals seem to contradict the principles Rubio espouses on the campaign trail: calling for balanced budgets as he strained his own, and criticizing government waste as he arranged unadvertised government jobs for himself.

They include:

Arranging the $135,000 home credit line in 2006 from a bank controlled by political supporters who valued his home at 25 percent above the purchase price a month after the sale closed.

Selling another home for a large profit in 2007 at a time when the market was on the way down. The sale was made to the mother of a politically influential chiropractor who was lobbying Rubio over a lucrative state insurance issue.

Securing no-bid employment contracts in 2008 at a public hospital and state university in Miami at a time when both agencies were cutting employees and slashing millions from their budgets

Using his Republican Party credit card to cover expenses such as car repairs, purchases at Apple's online store and movie tickets that appear to be personal in nature.


Which brings us to the ever-growing number of current questions that Rubio is running away from during his campaign for US Senate.

This guy has a seemingly insatiable need for cash.

By the end of 2005, Rubio had three home mortgages, a home equity line of credit, a car loan and more than $150,000 in student loans -- a total debt load of $1,025,444.58, according to the financial disclosure statement he filed with the state.

That same year, the Republican Party of Florida gave Rubio a credit card to use at his discretion. ((February, 2005, to be exact.))

In 2007 and 2008, Rubio charged nearly $100,000 on his Republican Party credit card, according to records released by the party.

The party has refused to release records from before 2007.


(emphases added)

This smells like a cover-up for Rubio by his friend John Thrasher, head of the RPOF. Thrasher's cherry-picked audit carefully avoids looking at Rubio's Party credit card charges from 2005 and 2006, but makes the as-yet baseless charges against Crist for 'unauthorized lavish personal spending, using GOP funds'. Funny, that the fact that Crist did not possess a Party credit card doesn't cross Thrasher's lips. It wouldn't fit Thrasher's accusatory narrative against Crist.

"Marco Rubio spent money like a drunken sailor," said state Senator Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a supporter of Rubio's Senate rival, Gov. Charlie Crist. "This is a person who has gotten in way over his head with his personal finances but he's running for the United States Senate and talks about being personally responsible and fiscally responsible. It's ludicrous."


"Instead of going out and earning a living like every other Floridian, he's living off campaign contributions," Fasano said.

What is clear is that Rubio never seemed to have enough cash.


The Herald Tribune investigative article goes on to describe several incidents in detail, where the conclusion that Rubio used his leadership position as a tool to enrich himself and his family at taxpayers' expense, is inescapable.

In December 2005, Rubio closed on a new home for $550,000.

By January 2006 the house had been appraised at $735,000 and he landed a $135,000 home equity line of credit from a bank controlled by his political supporters, according to Miami-Dade County records.

The home is now assessed at $392,000 for tax purposes.


Another questionable deal arose in May 2007, when Rubio sold his first home -- the one he purchased in 2003 for $175,000 and had been renting -- to Nora Cereceda.

At the time of the sale, Cereceda's son -- chiropractor Mark Cereceda, who runs a chain of clinics -- was aggressively lobbying Rubio over a state insurance issue.

Nora Cereceda paid $380,000 cash for the house, a $205,000 profit for Rubio at a time when the market had begun to drop.


Shortly after Dr. Cereceda's mother purchased the home, Rubio removed the House's block on the insurance provision and voted for it himself.


Questions about whether Rubio's political position helped him financially came up again in 2008, when a term-limited Rubio was leaving the Legislature and planning his next move.

Florida International University announced Rubio had been hired to teach political science classes and do research part time for $69,000 a year. The job was never publicly advertised.

That year, the university cut 23 degree programs and 200 jobs. Another 200 jobs were cut the next year.

Thomas Breslin, chairman of the faculty Senate at Florida International University, said some faculty members complained about Rubio's being hired at a time of deep budget cuts.

"The Rubio hiring for many was salt in the wound," Breslin said last week, recalling the Senate's discussions at the time.

Rubio had been a good friend to the university. He helped secure $15 million for a hurricane center, $11 million for a medical school, $2.5 million for a student academic support center and millions more in other budget requests for FIU while he was speaker of the House.


After joining the FIU faculty, Rubio subsequently paid his boss, Dario Moreno, the professor who helped get him hired, $12,000 to conduct polling for his U.S. Senate campaign. Moreno stopped working for Rubio when the payment was reported in the media.

Around the same time, Rubio landed a $8,000-a-month consulting contract with Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami's large public hospital, just months after he helped secure an extra $20 million state budget allocation for the hospital during his speakership.


And, when presented with the facts about this candidate's prior history as part of a self-serving, hypocritical, mean-spirited Party of Graft, the most important question for Floridians remains, as we elect a new US Senator:

'What will we say to Marco Rubio on November 2, 2010?'
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-23-10 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
6. Updates: Rubio responsible for slipping in 'Taj Mahal' funding; Used RPOF card for home remodeling
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onethatcares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-24-10 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
7. seafan, that is some great information, but I have one question.
If a person presents a check that doesn't clear to pay a debt,is there a charge the police might file? Or is the check given back and everyone says, "sorry"?

I'm talking about thrashers' attempt at payment.

again many thanks for the info. There is no way in hell that this onethatcares could vote puke but it's always good to know your enemies.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-25-10 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Do you mean Rubio's attempt at repayment by check to the GOP for personal charges, as he claims.....
and theoretically, the RPOF Chair *not accepting it* or (in another scenario) it bounced? John Thrasher became RPOF Chair this past February, 2010, so he wasn't in the loop with Rubio's credit card purchases in the years in specific question.. 2005 and 2006.

Not sure I follow your question..

It does seem that money problems have haunted Rubio until he procured that Party credit card in 2005. Then, things changed. Now, he has a different set of money problems.

I cannot fathom how ANY decent, thinking person could support such outright graft and deception in a candidate, coupled with abusing his elected position to enrich himself and his friends.

Peace backatcha, onethatcares. This is going to be a wild ride.

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