Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is catching heat tonight for using campaign cash to pay for personal expenses. Rubio charged 110-thousand dollars on a Republican Party credit card. He says he repaid all charges that weren’t related to promoting the Republican brand. As Whitney Ray tells us, he’s also blaming his US Senate rival for the leaked credit card statements.
If you contributed money to the Republican Party of Florida your donation may have bought former House Speaker Marco Rubio a 400 dollar meal at the Macaroni Grill, a 130 dollar haircut or a 3-thousand dollar car rental.
Over a two year period Rubio charged nearly 110-thousand dollars on an RPOF credit card, according to a newspaper report. His Senate campaign manager says he reimbursed the party for all personal expenses.
Shortly after the story broke, Rubio released a campaign video in an attempt to change the subject. Then he claimed his primary rival Governor Charlie Crist leaked the credit card statements to the press. Crist bristles back.
“The people have a right to know how people spend there money, how they comport themselves, how they conduct themselves before they put themselves up for public office. That’s happened to the speaker. He apparently doesn’t like it. That’s too bad. Welcome to the NFL,” said Crist.
But there may be more than just political penalties tied to the spending allegations. Florida Democrats are calling for a federal investigation into 3.6 million dollars charged on Republican Party credit cards.
“Crimes probably were committed at the RPOF, that there was illegal activity at the RPOF,” said Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democrats.
A spokesman for the IRS would neither confirm nor denied they were investigating the Republican spending scandal.
The party has also denied requests from its own members to release the spending statements to the press. On the day the party’s former chairman announced his resignation, a paper shredding truck was spotted outside party headquarters.
Rubio’s campaign manager told us the former speaker was unavailable to answer questions about the spending because he was out of the state.
Sink on Questionable Spending and Ethics Reform
The Democratic frontrunner in Florida’s governor’s race is calling for more transparency in campaign spending.
Alex Sink’s plan would ban gifts from lobbyists, increase transparency into the spending of campaign contributions and require state workers to attend ethics training. Sink is releasing her plan as former House Speakers Marco Rubio and Ray Sansom are both catching heat over thousands of dollars spent on RPOF Credit Cards. Sink says more transparency would help donors know how their contributions were being used.
“We ought to be having reporting on any credit card transactions at political parties. I’m going to require our state employees not to take any gifts at all from lobbyist or vendors,” said Sink.
Sink says if she is elected governor she will push for more protection for whistleblowers working in state government who are more comfortable sharing their stories with a journalist than rather than reporting to their own agency.