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News Wednesday, Feb 17 2016

Rubio And Gov. Haley Find Common Ground Over Shady Ethics Histories

Feb 17, 2016

Marco Rubio has a shady ethics history that stretches back to his time in the Florida House of Representatives. Appropriately, the U.S. Senator from Florida’s latest endorser, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, has her own history of ethics controversies.

Here’s a taste of Rubio’s ethical low-lights:

  • Florida Republican Party Credit Card  Marco Rubio used a Florida Republican Party credit card to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenditures. Rubio used the card to pay for a family trip and a home improvement project, among other things, but that’s not all. Rubio’s campaign insists that he’s made all of the credit card records public, but, as National Journal reported last month, some of his spending records remain undisclosed.

  • The $48 Million “Taj Mahal” Courthouse — Personal use of the Florida GOP credit card isn’t Rubio’s only foray into ethical gray areas. Back in 2010, Rubio similarly faced scrutiny for his involvement as a “driving force” behind Tallahassee’s so-called “Taj Mahal” courthouse. The opulent courthouse’s ostentatious amenities include: “mahogany-trimmed offices, kitchens and bathrooms in judicial suites,” bulletproof windows, dozens of 60-inch flat screen TVs with cable, granite counter-tops, and soundproofed bathrooms for each judgeAccording to the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board, Rubio — who was behind the $48 million-dollar project’s approval — reacted to scrutiny by “first claiming ignorance and then blaming others.” As the editorial board put it at the time: “Marco Rubio has a terrible memory or an aversion to telling the truth.”

Like Rubio, Governor Haley has had a number ethics questions crop up over the years, ranging for her improper use of state-owned vehicles and missed tax-filing deadlines, to her shady tax payer-funded economic development trips to Europe and India.

Here are a few shady episodes from Haley’s time as governor

The Post and Courier: European vacation or legitimate business? Haley’s fiscal priorities under fire as summer ‘jobs’ trip detailed

Gov. Nikki Haley’s weeklong trip to Europe in June in search of “jobs, jobs, jobs” cost South Carolinians more than $127,000. But the governor and her entourage of more than two dozen returned without any finished deals to bring new employers to the Palmetto State.

Associated Press: Haley biz didn’t pay taxes on time
Records show the business owned by the family of South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has been penalized for failing to pay taxes three times since 2003.

The State: Haley’s taxes filed late

Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has consistently missed the April 15 tax-filing deadline, according to additional records released Wednesday, filing her income taxes more than a year late in 2005 and 2006.

The Post and Courier: Gov. Nikki Haley on mystery economic development trip
Haley’s last economic development trip was in November to India, a 10-day excursion on which she was accompanied by her husband, Michael Haley, and an 18-member delegation. The state Commerce Department spent $51,500 on the trip, which so far has produced no job announcements.

Charleston City Paper: Unreported fender-bender involving Nikki Haley leads to questions about her ethics 
The governor has a history of misusing state-owned vehicles. In October 2012, Haley repaid $9,590 to the state Aeronautics Commission after an Associated Press report pointed out that she had violated a budget clause by using state airplanes to attend bill-signings and news conferences. Speaking to the AP, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the violations were “entirely staff oversight.”
Again in May 2013, state Democrats criticized Haley for using a state-owned plane to transport a private videographer 17 times. They called for Haley to return more than $17,000 in flight expenses to taxpayers, but Godfrey defended the cameraman’s flight as a legitimate expense for the governor’s office.

Associated Press: Gov. Nikki Haley reimburses state for plane usage
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has repaid about $10,000 for using state planes to attend news conferences and bill-signings, after The Associated Press informed her of a rule against that.
Haley’s spokesman said her office was unaware legislators put a clause in the budget last year that added the restrictions. She returned $9,590 on Friday to the state Aeronautics Commission, which operates the state’s two taxpayer-funded planes. The reimbursement covers flights taken across the state over seven days since last July.
During the trips, she ceremoniously signed five laws, including those creating the state Medal of Valor and drawing the new 7th Congressional District anchored in Horry County. Three days of flights involved her promoting her ethics reform and tax-cut plans.

Published: Feb 17, 2016

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