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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-10 03:24 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?

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-16-10 09:18 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 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
2. Marco Rubio: 'No reason to release my earlier credit card statements.'
Edited on Fri Sep-17-10 09:23 PM by seafan
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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Gabi Hayes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-17-10 10:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. OK, Fidel...back to bed
great thread

he's almost as crooked as Jeb:
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-10 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
4. 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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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-10 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. Excellent post, seafan. Tried to rec, but too late.
Not sure how I missed this.

Thanks for a fine post.
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-10 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Thanks, madfloridian.
I've reached another level of anger about all of this. I didn't think that was possible.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-18-10 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
6. Crist: GOP "audit" is a sham; Party bosses owe me an apology
Charlie Crist: GOP "audit" is a sham; Party bosses owe me an apology

Adam Smith at Tampa Bay's The Buzz reports:

September 18, 2010
1:59 PM

Charlie Crist held a hastily called press conference Saturday afternoon at his St. Petersburg campaign headquarters to denounce the Florida GOP's internal investigative report that suggested party donors spent more than $13,400 on a Disney vacation for Crist, his wife, her two daughters and former GOP chairman Jim Greer and his family.

He released a Disney bill to Carole Crist showing she paid for $4,712.82 in expenses, including more than $2,900 for four nights at the Contemporary Resort, dining expenses, and arcade and gift shop charges. Here's the bill.

Crist called the party audit report "literally a sham."

"My family paid for our personal expenses. I have a copy of a bill to my wife that was paid for by my family as it relates to the Disney trip. Clearly, the Republican party bosses have attacked my family and my family's integrity, but also perpetrated a fraud on the people of Florida with this report."
Crist answered two questions for barely a minute: He said he did not know how Greer was using any party money to pay for anything on the June 2009 trip and could not say how Jim and Lisa Greer managed to spend more than $13,000.

Left unanswered is whether Greer covered any expenses for the Crists during those four days, such as meals and entertainment. For instance, the Disney bill Crist released shows less than $200 for three dining charges in four days and no park tickets.

"We're not going to start nickel and diming this sham of a report,'' Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said when asked about expenses that appear to be missing from Carole Crist's Disney bill. "These records clearly show the Governor and First Lady covered their personal expenses, as they always do. That's more than can be said for Marco Rubio."

Crist also noted that Rubio has not released many of the credit card statements from when he was using a state GOP credit card as incoming state house speaker.

"If they wanted to do something productive, they should release all of speaker-designate Rubio's records. That would be helpful to the people of Florida before this election," Crist said. "The Republican party bosses owe my family and I an apology for this, but much more importantly an apology to the people of Florida. This campaign has 45 days left to go. I'm not going to continue to discuss their sham report, this cockamamie thing that's pretty ridiculous. I'm going to focus on the issues that matter most to the people of our state - issues like jobs and the economy, education and the environment."

Dan Conston, spokesman for the state party, said no apology is coming: Time and again Charlie Crist was present while Jim Greer was blowing through hundreds of thousands in Party money. Crist wants us to believe he didnt benefit from Greers spending. But does he really expect anyone to believe he didnt even notice it?

So, Thrasher and his RPOF have gone from 'Crist is guilty as charged' to 'Crist may have spent inappropriately' to 'Crist may have benefited from Greer's spending habits' to 'Crist MUST have known what Greer was doing'.

These snake-eyed losers will do ANYTHING to bury Crist for leaving the Party. That one act has so relentlessly and publicly exposed this crowd as the lawless, vindictive, backbiting bastards that they've always been. And golldangit, somebody's gonna pay.

Here is yet ANOTHER EXAMPLE of what vermin passes for "leadership" in the Republican-controlled Florida Senate:

September 16, 2010

Link denied between (Republican) Senate majority leader's letter, campaign cash

One week before Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami sent a letter to help a kidney dialysis company in a bitter contract dispute over prison medical services, his brother's campaign received a $15,000 check from the head of the company, state campaign finance reports show.

Diaz de la Portilla's letter, on Senate majority office stationary, was used by lawyers for Miami Beach-based Orion Medical Enterprises to persuade a state Department of Corrections official to halt the bidding process.

Both Diaz de la Portilla and the company's owner, Dr. Allan Jacob, deny any link between the campaign cash and the letter. But the contribution shows the flow of unlimited campaign cash into legislative coffers from executives who want to do business with the state.


Also this week, the Republican-controlled Legislature is holding, hostage, state energy rebates meant for the public, after installing new energy-efficient air conditioners and solar energy systems in their homes. Now, many Floridians have spent money to upgrade their homes' energy systems, but the Republicans in Tallahassee are sitting on the people's rebates, leaving many in limbo across the state.

September 15, 2010

Republicans in Legislature. defying Crist, refuse to release federal money to the public for energy rebate program

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature have begun a war of wills and words, with those Florida taxpayers trying to receive a rebate on a new air conditioner or solar energy system caught in the middle until possibly November or even next year.

Crist says Florida's Legislative Budget Commission failed to approve the use of $31.5 million in federal money for an energy rebate program when it met earlier this week. But leaders in the Legislature say they cannot legally spend the money without approval from the full Florida House and Senate.

"I think they're playing political games," Crist told The Sun on Wednesday evening. "I think they're dead wrong, I think they're dragging their feet. Here's something that's a good thing to do, the right thing to do, and they're being obstructionists."

Insiders say it could be political payback for Crist, who left the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. Republicans control both the Florida House and Senate.

Crist explained that language was put in the budget last spring allowing for the federal dollars to be spent when they arrived. The federal government released the money to the state in August. Crist and his staff said the money is in a savings account with the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, which controls the rebate program. Under Florida Statute 216, the governor's office was asking that the LBC place the money in a checking account for use as an operating appropriations, which Crist said is allowable under the law.


The budget commission met Tuesday, with many of the 15 members attending via conference call, but the energy rebate program was never on the agenda, despite the governor requesting it.


The Florida Legislature created the solar rebate program in 2006 to encourage homeowners and businesses to use the green source of energy. But the state ran out of money, although it continued to offer the rebate, and thus a $52 million backlog exists. The U.S. Department of Energy authorized the use of $13.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to clear up some of that backlog.

But (Speaker of the House Larry) Cretul attacked Crist and the Florida Energy and Climate Committee, which oversees the program.


(Todd Reid, a spokesman for the Florida House Majority Office) insists it is not political payback for Crist.


Everything these hateful people do is payback for whomever stands up against these continued, crushing acts against the well-being of the people of Florida, including committing every deceitful, manipulative act possible to push the Jeb Bush-anointed Marco Rubio into the US Senate seat.

It will never be any clearer what the people of Florida must do.

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 11:59 AM
Response to Original message
8. Thanks.
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lib2DaBone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 12:14 PM
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9. 'LIL Marco Rubio.. Jeb Bush's puppet boy.....
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
10. 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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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 12:54 PM
Response to Original message
11. Kick
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-21-10 10:41 PM
Response to Original message
12. Lavish party spending in 2006 extends to Rubio's former chief of staff
And isn't it odd that that Rubio's 2005 and 2006 credit card charges on the GOP American Express Card *ARE NOT* part of Florida GOP Chairman John Thrasher's recent RPOF "audit"??

More for the record:

Lavish party spending extends to Rubio's former chief of staff

By Adam C. Smith and Beth Reinhard, Times/Herald staff writers
March 23, 2010

Days before he was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House, Marco Rubio and his top deputies hopped on a charter plane to Washington, checked into a $600-a-night hotel hosting a Republican Party conference and hired a chauffeur to squire them around the city.

The costs were charged to the state party-issued credit card belonging to Rubio's chief of staff, Richard Corcoran, a Republican operative who had recently been transferred to the state payroll. During the five months of his $175,000-a-year job in Rubio's office, Corcoran continued spending tens of thousands of dollars in party donations for a slew of expenses, including dinners with his boss, personalized chairs for Republican leaders and $4,600 for electronics, according to American Express statements obtained by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald.

"You have meeting after meeting to talk about the ideas and about building the agenda,'' said Corcoran, who denied misspending party funds. "Every penny was worth it."

Corcoran's hefty credit card bills $60,000 in one two-month period alone reflect the free-wheeling party spending on travel and dining that disgraced Rubio's successor, indicted former Rep. Ray Sansom of Destin, and cost former state party chairman Jim Greer his job.

State law bans public employees from working on political campaigns while on duty.

"You have a total institutional failure of candor, accountability, transparency and internal controls that is wholly unacceptable in the private sector and even among nonprofits," said Anthony "Tony" Alfieri, director of the University of Miami's Center for Ethics and Public Service. "In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the specter of the Republican Party squandering thousands of dollars should outrage Florida voters."

Though the Internal Revenue Service requires party money to be spent on political activities, many of Corcoran's charges were personal: a $20 haircut, more than $400 in airline fees for a canceled family trip to Spain, $1,600 at a frame shop, $1,200 for handcrafted chairs for top Republican officials and $6,773 at a Georgia resort for a Rubio family reunion.

Party reports indicate that Corcoran, who is currently a candidate for a House seat representing Pasco and Pinellas counties, did not pay those expenses back. Rubio's relatives sent checks to American Express that covered all but $714 of the hotel bill.

"I can't explain it,'' Corcoran said of the charges for the Rubio family reunion. "You know who would know is Marco. My hunch is that somehow a mistake was made.''

Rubio, now the front-running Republican candidate for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat, said Corcoran "potentially" picked up some of his expenses while serving as chief of staff "but only political expenses for the most part.''

"There might have been some that he paid, but I don't know which ones,'' Rubio said. "You're asking me about a (credit card) statement I've never seen.''

Yes, Rubio. We hope the FBI, US Attorney and the IRS have now had the opportunity to examine the purchases on these cards that you and your buddies used to lavish your lifestyles.

We also hope that family reunion in Georgia was memorable. It may end up being even more so.

Corcoran, 45, described Rubio's speakership as "Camelot." Most of the charges he billed to the party while he was Rubio's chief of staff were for restaurant tabs, ranging from $63.07 at T.G.I. Friday's in Tallahassee to $435.82 at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Coral Gables. Some of the charges stemmed from hosting party fundraisers, while others were for dinners where his boss and fellow lawmakers who called themselves "the 12 disciples'' would formulate their policy and political agendas, Corcoran said.

"It was a time in government when things were right, and people were doing things for the betterment of society and not for themselves," said Corcoran, calling the credit card spending "more pure" than when lobbyists commonly bought legislators meals. "I will not apologize for one penny of money we spent to push the special interests out the door.''

Among other purchases Corcoran billed to the party: self-help books to hand out to legislators such as Getting Past No and Good to Great; $1,600 to frame inspirational quotes by former Gov. Jeb Bush; and $1,200 for inscribed wooden chairs for Gov. Charlie Crist's chief of staff and speakers-to be Sansom and Cannon.


Let's see... they are delusional, fancy themselves as the Kennedys, Jesus' disciples and lap up Jeb Bush's *inspiration*.

How is that for certifiable, yet giggling young mobsters?

As the incoming House speaker in 2006, Rubio was responsible for raising money and crafting strategy for GOP incumbents and candidates for the Florida House. The Miami Republican worked side by side with Corcoran, the state party's point man for House races. Rubio's political committee also paid Corcoran $113,000 to help write and promote Rubio's book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future.

Rubio with his 100 Ideas

Days after the 2006 election cost the party seven Florida House seats, Rubio and his top lieutenants Reps. Sansom, Dean Cannon of Winter Park and David Rivera of Miami chartered a plane for more than $5,200 to take them to a Washington conference of GOPAC, a national organization that grooms local and state Republican leaders. The group, which included Corcoran and a couple of other staffers, spent more than $5,000 on a one-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel and paid a limousine service about $1,800.

"We never had to worry about parking and because of that we got to double up and triple up our meetings,'' Corcoran said. "We did a ton and did it all in two days.''

Interesting that John Thrasher, in his RPOF "audit", declared that Dean Cannon, now incoming House Speaker, was "clean". Funny, that.

We hope that all of these thieves find that they also don't have to worry about parking when they check in at the Big House.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-22-10 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
13. Newly surfaced e-mail identifies Marco Rubio and others as "heroes" in funding for lavish courthouse
Well, glory be.

This story is GETTING LEGS.

September 2, 2010: Marco Rubio tied to another secret legislative deal during Florida House Speakership in 2007

September 16, 2010: Rubio denies responsibility for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse funding

September 22, 2010:

Marco Rubio, what do you have to say for yourself NOW?

E-mail names 'heroes' who got legislative funding for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse

By Lucy Morgan, Times Senior Correspondent
Sept 22, 2010 04:30 AM

The 1st District Court of Appeals new courthouse under construction near Tallahassee, as it looked Sept. 1. (St. Petersburg Times)

Sometimes being a "hero'' isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Take Marco Rubio. Since the story first broke about the palatial new courthouse being built in Tallahassee, the former House speaker has said it was a Senate priority, and he couldn't even remember the money being appropriated to build it.

But now the St. Petersburg Times has obtained an e-mail circulated among the judges on the courthouse building committee that identifies the "heroes'' in delivering the money to build it.

Among them, the e-mail identifies a select few who were "especially helpful,'' including Rubio.

"I have never heard of this list'' of heroes, Rubio said this week. "I was aware of a request to build a new courthouse for the 1st DCA, but it was not something I worked on as speaker.''

The $48 million courthouse for the 1st District Court of Appeal has been panned for its opulence at a time when money is tight. Plans initially called for each judge to get a 60-inch flat-screen TV in his or her mahogany-paneled chambers, and for each judge to get a private bathroom and kitchen, with granite counter tops. Some extras were scrapped after the negative publicity.

Recent news stories told how money to build the "Taj Mahal'' courthouse was slipped through as an amendment to an unrelated, 142-page transportation bill on the last day of the 2007 legislative session. Lawmakers were quick to condemn the over-the-top features and the legislative process that funded them, which is why lawmakers who generally can't get enough of being treated as heroes want no part of the "heroes'' e-mail.


(bold type added)

I have never heard of this list of heroes, former state House speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio said this week. I was aware of a request to build a new courthouse for the 1st DCA, but it was not something I worked on as Speaker. (AP)

It appears that this man is lying.

More than just listing heroes, the e-mail named a select list of those "especially helpful'' in getting the funding, including Rubio and Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa.

Dated April 29, 2008, the e-mail exchanged by judges on the building committee and court staffers encouraged them to personally thank those who helped secure the funding.

It listed seven House members, five senators, three lobbyists, six Senate and 10 House staffers, and Florida State University president T.K. Wetherell.

Rubio, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, has repeatedly said the courthouse was a Senate project and the House knew nothing about the architectural plans. He said it was part of the last-minute House and Senate give and take.

Rubio's appropriations chairman, former Rep. Ray Sansom, remembers it differently.

In a recent interview, Sansom said $7.9 million included in the 2007-08 budget for courthouse "expansion'' was a Rubio priority. He said Rubio confirmed his support for the project several times between November 2006 and the end of the 2007 session.

He said 1st DCA Chief Judge Paul Hawkes frequently visited Sansom's office to remind him the project was a priority of the speaker's. As was Sansom's practice whenever someone said he had the speaker's backing, Sansom said he went to Rubio to make sure.

"I asked, and Speaker Rubio said yes, it was a priority and important to FSU to get a new building too,'' Sansom said, adding that nobody from the Senate contacted him about wanting money for the courthouse.


Uh-oh, Rubio. Your former hand-picked budget chief Ray Sansom is acting like you might just be lying about how this whole thing went down. He was there, and he just might know the score to drop the dime on you.

By tradition, several legislators said, in the final two days of session, the House speaker personally approves any amendment attached to an important House bill.

That would be you, Mr. Rubio.

In an unrelated case, Sansom has been criminally charged with grand theft in connection with a $6 million appropriation in the 2007 budget for a friend's airplane hangar. He has denied wrongdoing, and his trial scheduled for January.

All of this was going on at the same time, under Rubio's watchful eye. Now, this begs the question: When will Rubio have his day in front of the Grand Jury?

Back to the "heroes" of the stealth legislative funding for this mahogany-lined, granite-laced, private-quartered palace, in the face of severe and ongoing state budget cuts:

The "especially helpful" list names House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Sarasota.

Sen. Victor Crist is currently running for the Hillsborough County Commission.

The other "heroes" on the list are:

(Then) Senate President Ken Pruitt, currently running for St. Lucie County property appraiser

Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami

Future House Speaker Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel

Incoming House Speaker Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park

Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales

Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland

Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp

It's pathetic to see these people denying culpability like hot potatoes, as described in this Times article.

This could finally bring this corrupt, decade-and-a-half Republican stranglehold over Florida state government to a bloody end.

UPDATE, 4:56 PM. September 22, 2010

Lucy Morgan at the St. Petersburg Times reports:

Grand jury to look at 1st DCA courthouse funding

A grand jury in Leon County will hear a complaint next week about the controversial new courthouse being built in Tallahassee for the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Leon State Attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday he has received a complaint from a citizen who wants a grand jury to review the situation surrounding the courthouse.

Meggs said he will bring the case to the grand jury when it meets Sept. 29.

The new $48 million courthouse is being financed primarily with a $33.5 million bond issue that legislators authorized by an amendment slipped into a lengthy transportation bill the last day of the 2007 legislative session.

The courthouse project was pushed by 1st DCA Chief Judge Paul M. Hawkes and Judge Brad Thomas, both former legislative staffers familiar with the budgeting process. Neither of them returned messages Wednesday seeking comment.


Beyond returning indictments that charge crimes, Florida grand juries frequently review the actions of public officials and public agencies and can issue a report called a presentment.

Such reports are often critical of public officials or entities and sometimes lead to changes in how a government agency does business.

Two years ago a complaint sent to Meggs about former Rep. Ray Sansom prompted a grand jury not only to indict Sansom but to issue a s scathing report of how the Legislature handled the 2007 budget. The report criticized a system that lets a handful of powerful lawmakers make multimillion-dollar decisions in secret.

It was in that same 2007 legislative session that the $33.5 million bond issue for the courthouse passed the Legislature as an amendment to a transportation bill.

Mr. Rubio, the days remaining in your rather self-serving political career have just become numbered.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-23-10 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
14. Tampa Tribune: Former supporter says Rubio used GOP credit card for home remodeling
Well, I'll be.

Here is what is undoubtedly one of the many reasons Florida GOP Chairman John Thrasher has not released Marco Rubio's GOP American Express Card statements from 2005 and 2006, when Rubio was Speaker-Designate of the House.

Former supporter says Rubio used GOP credit card for home remodeling

Marco Rubio doesn't deny using the credit card, but he says he repaid the party. (AP)

By WILLIAM MARCH | The Tampa Tribune

Published: September 23, 2010

TAMPA - A former supporter of Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio says Rubio acknowledged having once put home remodeling expenses on his Republican Party credit card.

According to that supporter, Tampa political consultant Chris Ingram, Rubio initially told Ingram he had paid for the costs about $4,000 to $5,000 for new kitchen flooring but later denied both putting the charges on the card and repaying them.

Ingram said he discussed the credit card issue with Rubio in August or September of 2009.

"I asked him in passing, is there anything that would cause you a problem," Ingram said. "He said somehow or another a charge for new flooring ended up on the RPOF (Republican Party of Florida) credit card."

Ingram said he repeatedly urged Rubio to reveal that and all other records of his credit card use to "release your own bad news and get out in front of the story."

In a statement from a campaign aide, Rubio didn't respond directly to Ingram's account, but didn't deny Ingram's contention about the remodeling expenses. The statement attributed Ingram's account to political motives from someone who's now a Rubio opponent.

Rubio also repeated his refusal to release all of the billing records for his party credit card, calling it "an internal party matter."

But in e-mails about the subject to Ingram, which Ingram provided to the Tribune, Rubio says he has all the credit card records himself. Rubio indicates in the e-mails that he has four years of records, rather than the two years' worth that have been released by the party


RPOF Chairman John Thrasher has stonewalled six ways to Sunday to head off any scrutiny of Rubio's RPOF credit card charges from 2005 and 2006, while declaring that Rubio is 'clean'. Thrasher's so-called "audit" miraculously found no problems worth mentioning with Rubio. But just for the years 2007 and 2008, you see. Nothing prior, because it might show Rubio picking out new home furniture and carpeting.

Step aside, Mr. Thrasher.

Use of party credit cards for personal expenses by top Republicans including former party Chairman Jim Greer has been a controversial aspect of the party's 2009 financial scandal.

The records released by the party cover the period from December 2006 through January 2009, while Rubio was House speaker and former party Chairman Jim Greer was in office. Records for that period for Rubio's card don't include any home remodeling costs.

But Rubio had the card before that, while he was the designated incoming speaker, a position that requires statewide travel to campaign for other candidates. Rubio's no-party opponent Senate opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist, has said Rubio should release the records from his time as speaker-designate.


He told the Tribune he urged Rubio repeatedly in 2009 and early this year to disclose all information related to the party credit card.

In one e-mail he provided, Ingram mentioned the remodeling costs. Rubio's responses don't mention those costs, but say he paid any personal charges himself.

In an e-mail dated Dec. 24, Rubio responds to Ingram, "I have the statements now. It is all mostly a bunch of commercial airlines, rental cars, hotels and travel restaurants. Any personal charges were paid by me directly."

In an e-mail the day before, Rubio said, "This has been addressed. There is no issues with my card. (I spent less in 4 years than Sansom did in 2.)" a reference to former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who also had a party credit card and has been indicted on charges he misused state funds to help a political supporter.

And this Tea Party con artist wants to be our next US Senator.

'But, but.... but... Sansom did it tooooooo!'

Mr. Sansom, Rubio's former budget chief, is now awaiting his own fraud trial.

And, all of this time, Rubio has been in personal possession of all of his own GOP AmEx statements, while loudly declaring there 'was no reason to release all of my credit card statements.'

It's time to Pay The Piper, Mr. Rubio.

Not even Jeb's Sword of Chang can save you now.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-23-10 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
15. Today's front pages of the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune
Behold, the epitome of fiscal and personal responsibility, now running for US Senate in Florida.

The republic works and isnt designed to elect a bunch of experts. ----Marco Rubio, in an interview with Kitchen Cabinet, a conservative women's group

And in that twisted, right-wing extremist Tea Party mindset, Rubio feels he is quite fit for the job.

September 23, 2010

Actually, it's the large part of 2 decades of iron-fisted Republican occupation of Florida state government that is the largest threat to our recovery.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-23-10 01:57 PM
Response to Original message
16. From the 'You Can't Make This Up' file: Marco Rubio: "Voters don't want 'experts'"
This is just off in the stratosphere.

"The republic works and isnt designed to elect a bunch of experts." ---Marco Rubio
(AP Photos)

From Andy Barr over at Politico:

9/22/10 10:29 AM EDT

Marco Rubio does not see a problem with Christine O'Donnell's past of financial trouble and bizarre quotes, noting that system is not designed to elect a bunch of experts to the Senate.

Rubio made the comments in a question and answer session with the Kitchen Cabinet, a conservative womens group which will post the full interview on their website Wednesday.

We actually have some people running that are not particularly experienced or maybe as skilled as some, in Delaware for instance, where there are some real questions about Christine ODonnell, the group asked Rubio, Floridas Republican nominee for the Senate.

The republic works and isnt designed to elect a bunch of experts, Rubio responded.

Really to be an expert in our republic means to know what life is like in the real world, added Rubio, who did not mention ODonnell by name in his response. I think thats the promising thing of this election.

"I think the more you are in touch with the real lives of everyday people; the better you are going to be as a representative of those people in a Republic.

Rubio also hit Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the interview, both of whom are Republicans running general election campaigns despite not securing the GOP nomination in their Senate races.

Candidates who try to play both sides of the issue are going to play very poorly because people recognize that we already have too many opportunists in government and in politics particularly in Washington," Rubio said. They dont want to see any more of those sorts of folks winning elections."

View that video clip only if you can stand a slimy, fast-talking pretty boy who is well on his way to a date with the law. And not from merely slipping favorable legislation to his cronies from a leather chair in Tallahassee, either.

Let's see. Marco Rubio sees nothing wrong with Christine O'Donnell's financial red flags.

It's probably because Rubio has a few of his own.

Marco Rubio asserts that voters don't want 'experts' representing them in Washington. Why.... an 'expert' might know what's going on in the real world. Slay us, Rubio.

And Rubio claims that people don't want to elect people like Charlie Crist or Lisa Murkowski, because those people are not pure enough since they are running in the general election without first winning the GOP primary.

He claims there are 'too many opportunists' in politics and that The People will see right through that.

If that's the case, Rubio, you are the best example of political opportunism that anyone could possibly find.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-23-10 07:21 PM
Response to Original message
Better circle the GOP wagons REAL TIGHT, boys.

More from Adam C. Smith at the St. Pete Times:

September 23, 2010 06:10 PM


The Crist campaign has called for greater disclosure by Rubio, such as releasing tax returns and all party credit card statements.

"Rubio already admitted to using his party credit card to the tune of $16,000 in just two years for meals, trips, car repairs, and family reunions. If Rubio wasn't using political contributions as his own personal ATM for longer than that, why not release all of the credit card records?'' said Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner.

(Senior adviser Todd) Harris of the Rubio campaign said no further credit card records would be released.

"We would be spending the rest of the campaign answering ridiculous charges if we jumped to action every time a disgruntled political consultant made some accusation,'' he said. "Our campaign is going to stay 100 percent focused on the issues that got us where we are today. If Charlie Crist or Chris Ingram want to create a sideshow they can do it together."


We don't think so, Mr. Harris. If your candidate has violated the law, we aim to expose it.

The only "sideshow" we see is the steady stream of freakish elements that have cannibalized the Republican Party.

(Ingram) provided the Times/Herald with e-mail exchanges where he urged Rubio to release any negative information about his credit card to minimize damage.

"This has been addressed. There is no issues (sic) with my card.(I spent less in 4 years than Sansom did in 2.),'' Rubio e-mailed on Dec. 23, referring to indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom. " If there was an issue they would have released them long ago."

Ingram wrote the next day: "I hope you're right. But less than him is not a good defense. And if I were Charlie/Greer, I'd wait to drop this on you about a month before the primary."

Rubio responded: There is nothing to drop. I have the statements now. It is all mostly a bunch of commercial airlines, rental cars, hotels and travel restaurants. Any personal charges were paid by (me) directly "

But after a number of Times/Herald stories about Rubio's use of party credit cards and lavish spending by political committees run by Rubio, Ingram publicly rescinded his support.

Ingram said Rubio subsequently told him that he in fact had not charged any home remodeling on his card, and had explanations for assorted other controversial expenses that he been revealed in the newspapers.

"It just didn't add up,'' Ingram said. "He had these answers that seemed to me very practiced, almost like he'd said it in his mind so many times he actually believed it."


"In my book, Marco's lack of trust is far worse than Charlie's. Charlie may be a lot of things, but out for personal gain (other than being elected to something) is not one of them," Ingram wrote. "Marco's want for power is different he appears to not only want fame, but also fortune."

(bold type added)

Sounds like Rubio learned well at the knee of his mentor.

December 1, 2008

Former Gov. Jeb Bush was named today to the board of directors for Rayonier, a Jacksonville-based timber and real estate company that claims ownership of 200,000 acres along Interstate 95 from Savannah, Ga. to Daytona Beach.

The company should be familiar with Bush Rayonier did tens of millions of dollars in land deals with the state while he was governor, including a $60 million deal in 2001 to connect Osceola National Forest to Georgias Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and a $30 million agreement in 2003 that put 8,465 acres in St. Johns County into the Florida Forever program.

In 2000, Bush blasted a $20 million deal with the company as too expensive but joined a unanimous vote from the Cabinet to approve the agreement. Heres his quote that ran in the Orlando Sentinel and the Vero Beach Press Journal:

Man, I cant wait to get back into the real estate business and sell property to the state, Bush said.


What we have down in Florida is a nest of thieves.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-24-10 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
18. Marco Rubio: 'No' to credit card statements release
Abel Harding on September 24, 2010 at the Jacksonville Times-Union reports:

U. S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio listens to a question from the Florida Times-Union's editorial board Thursday, September 23, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

When Marco Rubio sat down with the Times-Union editorial board yesterday, we asked questions about his Republican Party of Florida credit card statements that have been the subject of much speculation.

Earlier that morning, the Tampa Tribune had reported on allegations by a former Rubio supporter that the American Express card had been used to purchase kitchen flooring for Rubio's home. The Tribune also said it had obtained a copy of an e-mail where Rubio acknowledged that he had copies of the credit card statements.

The Republican Party has released copies of credit card statements during the Jim Greer era. It has not released copies of statements prior to Greer's tenure, which was when Rubio was speaker.

Here's a shortened version of our exchange on the subject of his party credit card:

Q: "I'd like a yes or no answer. Did you ever use your Republican Party of Florida credit card to purchase flooring for your home?"

A: "Look, I've already addressed these credit card questions. The bills came to my home and I always wrote a check for personal expenses."

Q: "But did you ever use the card to purchase flooring for your home?"

A: "If there was an accident, any time there was something on there that was personal, I promptly paid out of my own pocket."

Q: "A Florida newspaper has reported that it has obtained a copy of an e-mail from you where you acknowledge possession of four years worth of credit card statements? Why not release the copies and end the discussion?"

A: "Those credit card statements are an internal party matter. I'm not going to release them."

U. S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio listens to a question from the Florida Times-Union's editorial board Thursday, September 23, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)


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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-24-10 09:45 PM
Response to Original message
19. Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times Editorials: 'Marco Rubio's credibility is at stake.'

(via NY Times Magazine)

After the publication in Florida this week of the following three investigative pieces, today the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times have published editorials warning Marco Rubio that he must come clean with the voters regarding his GOP credit card statements over 4 years, and the scope of his role as House Speaker in securing the secretive funding for a palatial courthouse in the face of ongoing and devastating budget cuts throughout the state.

Former supporter says Rubio used GOP credit card for home remodeling, Tampa Tribune, September 23, 2010

E-mail names 'heroes' who got legislative funding for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse, St. Petersburg Times, September 23, 2010

Senate hopeful Rubio plagued by money problems, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 19, 2010

The two editorials follow:

Tampa Tribune Editorial: Disclosure needed on Rubio's bills

September 24, 2010

Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, dismisses inquiries about his use of a party credit card as "an internal party matter."

That won't wash.

Donors give to a party to advance its political agenda, not to advance a party official's personal cash flow.

Rubio owes voters a candid account about why he used his card for personal expenses - which he maintains he paid directly or repaid - and complete disclosure of his party credit card bills.
It has previously been reported that Rubio says he paid the party's credit card company $16,000 for personal expenses that ranged from wine to minivan repairs.

But now the Tribune's William March reports a former Rubio supporter says the candidate acknowledged he once put home remodeling expenses on the card.
The Rubio camp blames the report on politics but doesn't deny the statement of Tampa political consultant Chris Ingram, who says Rubio told him he spent about $4,000 to $6,000 for new kitchen flooring.

So far the party has refused to reveal credit card bills beyond the past two years. Rubio told us he does not object to the release of the bills but that it is the party's decision. Yet March was shown e-mails from Rubio to Ingram that indicate Rubio has possession of the bills.

Whatever the case, the former state House speaker should arrange the release all of his credit card bills. His credibility is at stake.


The Tribune editorial cites the recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune which found that "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."

The Tribune continues:

All this, coupled with what appears to be casual, if not cavalier, use of donors' money undermines Rubio's compelling message of fiscal frugality.

Last week the state GOP released a forensic audit of party expenditures and did its utmost to tar Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican running for the Senate as an independent.
The report did show Jim Greer, Crist's selection for state GOP chair, and some others spent wildly. But Crist never had a GOP credit card, and he produced a receipt for a Disney World stay that state GOP Chairman John Thrasher had questioned.

The audit did not address - or reveal - spending prior to Greer's tenure, though Rubio had a credit card then, and that is when the home repairs apparently took place.

If Rubio expects voters to trust him to bring fiscal restraint to Washington, he needs to come clean on his own spending.

St. Petersburg Times Editorial: Marco Rubio must be frank about the "Taj Mahal" courthouse

September 24, 2010

Marco Rubio has a terrible memory or an aversion to telling the truth. Neither trait is desirable in a candidate for U.S. Senate. Despite mounting evidence that he was a driving force behind a ridiculously expensive new courthouse in Tallahassee, the former state House speaker insists he is as surprised as anyone by this monstrosity. He needs to tell voters what really happened or perhaps a grand jury will do it for him.

The $48 million courthouse being built for the 1st District Court of Appeal is a monument to the Legislature's hypocrisy. While Rubio and his Republican colleagues preached fiscal responsibility in 2007, they quietly approved the money to build this palace at the behest of some of the judges who will move into it. The Miami Republican is stonewalling by first claiming ignorance and then blaming others.

The "Taj Mahal" courthouse has been under construction for months, but only recent reporting by the Times' Lucy Morgan has uncovered how such an indefensible project moved through the Legislature. There was $7.9 million included in the 2007-08 budget and a suspicious authorization of a $33.5 million bond issue in an unrelated bill approved on the last day of the 2007 session. The chances something of this magnitude would be approved without the House speaker's endorsement are slim to none.

Yet Rubio cannot get his story straight. He first said in August that he didn't recall the project. Then his campaign blamed the state Senate, where the bond issue was added to a transportation bill that was then approved by the House. Then Rubio said he was aware of the project and tried to shift attention to Gov. Charlie Crist, who signed the budget and the transportation bill into law. Now Crist is running against Rubio as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, but Rubio cannot run away from this mess.


Just this week, in the latest of several investigative pieces about this palatial courthouse construction, Lucy Morgan at the St. Petersburg Times reported that Rubio's name has surfaced in e-mail, identifying him as one of the primary individuals to be appreciated for his actions to secure the legislative funding for the courthouse construction.

The Times continues:

In fact, the court's building committee circulated an e-mail in 2008 that identified "heroes" for their project. It lists Rubio as one of four lawmakers who were "especially helpful.'' And fellow Republicans are in no mood to corroborate Rubio's excuses. State Sen. Victor Crist of Tampa says he sponsored the amendment for the bond issue at the direction of Senate President Ken Pruitt. But Pruitt says he did no such thing, and other lawmakers say the deal would not have been passed without the speaker's approval.

Most revealing: Former Rep. Ray Sansom, who was Rubio's appropriations chairman, said Rubio told him several times that he supported the project. Sansom also said 1st DCA Chief Judge Paul Hawkes frequently reminded him the courthouse was a priority for Rubio.
This would be the same Ray Sansom who is charged with grand theft for inserting millions into the same state budget for an airplane hangar disguised as a community college building.

So the 2007 legislative session was a banner year for surprises: $48 million for an opulent courthouse and $6 million for an airplane hangar. All of this was while Rubio was House speaker, yet he claims his hands are clean and says he wants to go to Washington to rein in spending.

A grand jury indicted Sansom, who has pleaded not guilty. Now another grand jury will be asked next week whether it wants to examine the courthouse scandal. It's worth a look.

The outrage may not be that a crime was committed. The outrage may be that it was a legal waste of public money, and that powerful legislators like Marco Rubio quietly conspired to make it happen.

(emphasis added)

And, by the way:

Mitch Perry at Creative Loafing writes today:

In the wake of three powerful stories that have been published this week that have dented Marco Rubios reputation as a fiscal hawk, the man called by the New York Times Magazine this past January as The First Senator from the Tea Party, will be one of several people affiliated with that upstart movement this Sunday morning on CBSs Face The Nation.

Rubio will appear on the the public affairs program along with Colorado GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck and the Tea Party Expresss Sal Russo, an organizer from California.

One can only hope that Schieffer, who was raked over the coals earlier this summer by Fox News Bill OReilly and Bernard Goldberg for failing to ask Attorney General Eric Holder about the New Black Panther controversy, will have done his homework this week and read the stories about Rubio published in the St. Pete Times, Tampa Tribune and Sarasota Herald-Tribune, all reporting on Rubios flexibility when it comes to spending money, whether it be purchasing home improvements with his Republican Party of Florida credit card, or approving a massively overwrought courthouse in the state capitol..


But what cant happen in the next 39 days is members of the press allowing Rubio to skate by with his responses to some of these vexing questions.

Bob Schieffer, I hope youre doing your homework today.


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