Florida senator Marco Rubio has just seen a nagging ethics complaint filed against him dismissed by the Florida Commissio on Ethicd, clearing him of the wrongdoing alleged in the complaint. The move could help remove what some sources believe is an obstacle to Rubio joining Mitt Romney’s ticket as the vice-presidential nominee.
The complaint was filed by a Democratic donor back in April, 2010 when Rubio was engaged in a bitter fight for the U.S. Senate seat with Governor Charlie Crist, who left the Republican primary against Rubio to run unsuccessfully as an independent in the fall election. The complaint, which was based solely on newspaper stories, alleged that Rubio had made use of a Republican-party credit card while he was speaker of the Florida House to pay for his own personal expenses.
The controversy certainly damaged Rubio’s image in the eyes of some Romney backers, who have told me they worried that former Republican-party chairman Jim Greer, who issued party credit cards to Rubio and other GOP and is now facing felony corruption charges, would come forward to embarrass Rubio if he was selected by Romney.
As one Republican U.S. senator told Politico: “If he’s chosen as VP, his image will be set in about the first 24 hours. Think of Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle.”
No doubt the credit-card issue is still viewed as a negative by the Romney vetting committee, but the dismissal of the complaint against Rubio by the Florida Commission on Ethics is a welcome piece of news for Team Rubio, who can now claim that there is much less of a chance the story can be exploited by the Democrats should Rubio be the vice-presidential nominee.