Thursday, February 25, 2010

What A Card

According to the Miami Herald, Marco Rubio used his GOP credit card to charge personal expenses.

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, repairs to the family minivan and purchases from a wine store less than a mile from his West Miami home to the Republican Party of Florida while he was speaker of the Florida House, according to records obtained by The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times.

Rubio said Wednesday that he paid for all personal expenses billed to an American Express card given to him by the party to use from 2005 to 2008, when he left public office. The rest of the charges, he said, were legitimate party expenses.

Those expenses include a $1,000 charge at Braman Honda in Miami for repairs to the family car in January 2008. Rubio said the minivan was damaged by parking attendants at a political function and that the party agreed to cover half of his insurance deductible. The party also paid $2,976 for him to rent a car in Miami for five weeks, according to the records provided by a confidential source.

Rubio said the party allowed him to put personal expenses on the card — and the party reviewed his bill monthly.

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

Party spokeswoman Katie Gordon said the card was not supposed to be used for personal expenses. ”The RPOF American Express card is a corporate card and is meant to be used for business expenses.”

Donations to parties must go exclusively toward influencing elections under IRS rules.

Records show Rubio sent payments to American Express totaling $13,900 for his personal expenses during his tenure as House speaker. But those payments were not made monthly. He made no contributions to the bill during a six-month stretch in 2007, records show.

It doesn’t matter if he reimbursed the party for the expenses with interest. It’s what we in the financial reporting business call an audit finding and in any normal business operation, you could be fired for doing it.

Mr. Rubio’s supporters went into full defense mode, blaming the leak to the papers on the Crist campaign:

It is clear these internal documents were taken from the RPOF by former Chairman Jim Greer, or someone working for him, and were leaked to the media by the Crist Campaign.

These actions are an appalling act of political desperation. The idea that the former chairman of the RPOF, or those working for the Governor, would selectively leak internal RPOF documents is disturbing.

In other words, “Oh, look over there! Shiny things!”

I don’t think this is really going to be a big deal in the campaign; the GOP works on the principle that it’s okay for them to do things like this because it’s okay for them to do things like this. What’s ironic is that one of the mantras of the Republicans is that they are the party of personal responsibility and fiscal discipline…for everybody else.