It took about 12 seconds for the Rubio “get a drink of water” pause to go viral earlier this week. For some time now, he’s fared well as Golden Boy for the Republicans. Ah…but how soon they forget. It’s not been that long ago that he was just another excuse-making-responsibility-avoiding-shift-the-blame politician in Florida who got his hand caught in the cookie jar. And it was an expensive cookie. Here’s how it went down –
In 2010, a huge controversy involving several Florida politicians broke and before it was over, there would be no shortage of political dirty laundry that had been aired and a host of other state politicians who were no doubt losing sleep because of their own secrets that were on the verge of being spilled. Earlier this week, though, a surprise announcement was made that included a plea bargain with Florida’s former GOP Chairman Jim Greer. If you listened closely, you could have heard a collective sigh of relief coming out of Florida. As a result, no one will ever testify to allegations of prostitutes, theft or accusations that former Florida Governor Charlie Crist made sexual advances towards Greer. Instead, Greer will take the fall that includes admitting to five criminal charges – theft and money laundering being two of those charges.
Even Marco Rubio didn’t come away unscathed.
When the controversy first broke, Marco Rubio realized it was going to land partly in his lap, courtesy of a Republican Party of Florida American Express, which showed there was more than $100,000 in charges made by Rubio that were questionable at best, and unethical and illegal at worst. The charges were made over a two year period. Rubio defended the purchases, though he refused to present anything that would substantiate his assertions. He said his word should be enough to satisfy suspicious minds. Maybe someone forgot to tell him that when he stepped into politics, his trustworthiness cased to exist.
The $109,618 in charges, explained Rubio, were for “legitimate expenses…incurred while traversing Florida to raise money for the GOP, support its candidates and promote property tax reform”.
Rubio went on the defense and accused then-Governor Crist of leaking the information in order to take the heat off of himself and his own brewing scandal. Crist denied that, naturally, but he wasted no time telling any reporter who’d listen that many of the Rubio charges were “pretty disturbing”. And he was right. It matters little if it was ten dollars spent at some fast food restaurant or thousands spent on imported wine – there should be absolutely no doubt in any taxpayer’s mind as to how tax dollars are spent. Rubio said he used the Republican party-issued credit card for $16,053 in personal expenses, but that he eventually covered those charges from his own pocket, including close to $150 spent on a haircut at a barber shop in Miami. Here’s the problem: even if his calculations of more than $16,000 in personal purchases are right, he only repaid $13,900, which leaves more than $2,000 that taxpayers covered. Worse, Rubio was not consistent in his efforts, either. For six months, there were no payments made on the account, aside from the monthly scheduled payments made by the party.
A few of the charges were made to expensive restaurants, liquor stores, an electronics store for “music equipment”, Winn Dixie and a lumber store. Calls for a criminal investigation into Rubio went nowhere. Worse, some of his cronies were astounded that anyone would make a big deal out of “a few charges”.
And therein lies the problem. Our elected officials have found a sense of entitlement that they somehow deserve the finer things in life and that the America taxpayer should shoulder the financial burden of those refined lifestyles. When confronted, most seem to have perfected this incredulous look that really should be an embarrassment to them. Meanwhile, Florida Republicans accumulated an Amex bill of more than $3.1 million in 2008 alone. Access to the details are available…somewhat. There are no differentiations between who made the charges, which seems incredibly irresponsible. We’re talking $3.1 million of yours and my dollars, after all.
And now – in yet one more leap over the ethics line, Rubio has unveiled a new water bottle and encourages you to “send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you, he hydrates you too.” All you have to do is make a donation. I’m thinking I’ll pass. He’s already blown enough of my money.