The Times Asks an Obama Donor to Assess Rubio’s Finances

by Jim Geraghty

It’s the perfect sequel to the New York Times’ reporting on the #RubioCrimeSpree. This morning, the Times tells us all about the #RubioPersonalFinanceMistakes

There’s a lot in the story that is a rehash of previously-reported material; as I wrote in the April 14 Morning Jolt:

If you’re not a fan of Rubio, curse the heavens, because his political career came close to ending quite early.

For starters, he nearly lost his first Florida House election, coming in second in the first round and winning the runoff by 64 votes.

In his early years in the state legislature, he was skyrocketing in stature — he was named Majority Whip within his first nine months on the job — but going through extreme financial difficulties.

He was making $72,000 as an often-unavailable land use and zoning attorney at the now-defunct law firm Ruden McClosky and made $28,608 as a state legislator. Money was so tight for the young lawmaker and his wife and then-one child that he sold his car and moved in with his mother-in-law. In his autobiography, An American Son, Rubio writes he strongly contemplated leaving politics to focus on earning enough money to support his growing family.

A new job offer came along before Rubio finalized his decision to quit politics; in 2001, Rubio moved to Becker & Poliakoff to expand the firm’s practice in Miami-Dade, making $93,000 per year. By 2004, when Rubio was the Speaker-in-waiting, the law firm Broad and Cassel hired him at $300,000 per year.

But in the narrative of the Times, personal financial difficulties are somehow a form of hypocrisy or inconsistency for a fiscal conservative:

As Mr. Rubio, 44, seeks to counter questions about his stature and readiness for the presidency, his financial history creates particular complications. It has made him unusually reliant on a campaign donor, Norman Braman, a billionaire who subsidized Mr. Rubio’s job as a college instructor, hired him as lawyer and continues to employ his wife.

And it could undermine Mr. Rubio’s well-crafted political persona: The senator has long portrayed himself as a champion of financial austerity, railing against excessive government spending and runaway debt.

The article mentions Rubio purchasing a boat, leasing an Audi, purchasing a house in Tallahassee with another state lawmaker (where he worked; it’s a seven hour drive from Tallahassee to Miami, meaning a regular commute was out of the question) and then goes on to mention:

Suddenly the owner of three homes, the Rubios saw their liabilities soar to $1 million from $330,000 in just a year. Harold Evensky, a longtime financial adviser who reviewed Mr. Rubio’s public financial disclosures at the request of The Times, called the rapid accumulation of debt “staggering.”

“This was someone that was living financially dangerously,” Mr. Evensky said.

I think the term you’re looking for is “Obama donor Harold Evensky,” Times reporters.

(Say, is adding $7.5 trillion in new public debt in six and a half years living financially dangerously?)

Most of Rubio’s personal spending and savings rate is his business. Rubio splurged when his salary jumped. We can argue whether that’s wise, or whether he should have saved more, but it’s hardly stunning to see a guy who grew up lower-middle-class buying some big-ticket items when he gets those suddenly bigger paychecks. Does the Times really think this somehow indicates how Rubio would govern? “Hey, the IRS said tax revenue is up this year, time to make Air Force One supersonic!”

Rubio’s personal finances become the public’s business if there’s any indication of an illegal or inappropriate payment to the Rubios or his use of someone else’s money for personal expenses. Rubio did put some personal expenses on his business credit card provided by the Republican Party of Florida back in 2007 and 2008. Rubio attributes it to personal sloppiness, admitted he screwed up, and paid back the expenses. 

While lamenting Rubio’s poor savings rate, the article doesn’t mention Rubio helping out his parents with monthly bills during his early years as an attorney. Rubio and his wife have four children.

For those who think Rubio was making a lot of money throughout his career, remember Miami is one of the more expensive cities in the country in terms of cost of living. For those who would ask, “why didn’t he just move to a less expensive community?” it’s rather difficult to move when one of your jobs is on the city commission, or you’re elected to the state legislature to represent that particular high-cost-of-living community.

Finally, the article concludes:

But Mrs. Rubio’s firm, JDR Events, has had its own bookkeeping lapses. Over the past few years, she failed to pay annual business licensing fees to the City of West Miami, despite nine written notices and repeated phone calls to her home, records show.

After The Times made an inquiry with the city on May 26, a check arrived from Mrs. Rubio two days later for the $637.50 she still owed. In a handwritten note to the city, she said that she had mistakenly believed her payments were up-to-date.

“My apologies,” she wrote.

The #RubioCrimeSpree continues! Will no one stop this modern-day Bonnie and Clyde?

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