There’s at least one compliment Marco Rubio won’t be getting during his campaign: financially savvy. Rubio’s financial dealings have been subject to scrutiny lately — there aren’t just skeletons hidden in the closets of his foreclosed house with David Rivera, there are new questions being raised daily.
Fueled by his political aspirations, Rubio has been making one “financial mistake” after another, despite earning $4.5 million since his first year in the Florida legislature. This is causing many to ask: if he can’t manage his personal budget — once he became wealthy — how on earth will he be able to handle America’s?
Factor in some questionable moves with money and a hefty load of student loans, and it’s clear that the Republican presidential candidate’s real estate dealings often have been a drag on his finances despite an income most would relish.
One of Rubio’s biggest political backers, Miami billionaire Norman Braman, hired Rubio as his lawyer after Rubio left the Florida Legislature in 2008, and Braman funded a teaching position at Florida International University that Rubio still holds.
He shut down two political groups — one run out of his house — that had come under scrutiny for tens of thousands of dollars in poorly explained expenses. In his book, Rubio acknowledged the committees were “an accounting mess.”
Rubio also gained access to a state Republican Party charge card in 2005, which he says he inadvertently used at times to pay for personal items.
Records from 2007 and 2008 show Rubio charged about $160,000 to the card, including $1,000 for repairs to the family minivan after it was dented by a valet at a political event, a $134 haircut and numerous meals and airline flights.
The bank moved in 2010 to foreclose the house in Tallahassee after Rubio and Rivera fell behind on the payments. Rivera paid $9,200 to bring the house out of foreclosure, and the pair sold the house for $117,000 last week — $18,000 less than the original purchase price.
(Federal prosecutors have said Rivera, who served one term in Congress, is being investigated by a grand jury in a campaign finance case unrelated to Rubio.)
The collapse of the housing market in Florida haunts Rubio, too.
The home next to his in West Miami was foreclosed, which he says is part of the reason why the county has assessed the value of his current house at $400,000 — well below the price Rubio sought when he put it on the market in 2013. The asking price was $675,000, but it didn’t sell.
Published: Jun 8, 2015