GREENVILLE, South Carolina — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 presidential candidate, seems to be misleading voters following a New York Times report that details how Rubio’s longtime donor, billionaire Norman Braman, has used his access to the senator.
“The only thing Norman Braman has ever asked for my help on is charities, whether it’s a cancer or a genomics center at the University of Miami,” Rubio told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt at the South Carolina Freedom Summit here. “That’s something Donna Shalala pushed for at the university she was the president at. So, Norman Braman has never asked me to do anything for his business in my time in Washington, D.C.”
That’s different from what Rubio’s staff, and Braman himself, told the New York Times recently.
“Mr. Braman acknowledged seeking the occasional ‘small favor’ from Mr. Rubio’s Senate office,” the Times’ Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder wrote late last week. “There was the daughter of the woman who does his nails, Mr. Braman recalled, who had an immigration problem, and the student from Tampa who wanted a shot at military school. In both cases, he said, Mr. Rubio’s staff was quick to respond. (Mr. Rubio’s staff said it had decided not to recommend the Tampa student.)”
While Rubio’s team told the Times it didn’t recommend the daughter or do anything official to help her, Rubio and his team were obviously asked by Braman to intervene on these matters. Neither have anything to do with charities.
Rubio’s communications director Alex Conant wouldn’t answer when asked if he’d like to retract the senator’s MSNBC statement. The entire episode should concern primary voters, as it points to the sort of slippery language frequently seen from Rubio and his team of advisers during Rubio’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty push alongside Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last Congress.
In 2013, Rubio frequently misled Americans as he helped drive an amnesty bill through the Senate. That turned out to be such a political mistake that he ended up opposing his own bill, and encouraged the House to kill it.
Through Conant, Rubio also refused—beforehand and on site at the Freedom Summit—several requests for interviews with Breitbart News.
This story is particularly troublesome for Rubio, who aims to paint himself as a fresh face on the campaign trail, by making him look like just another Washington insider doing favors for a wealthy donor.
“As Mr. Rubio has ascended in the ranks of Republican politics, Mr. Braman has emerged as a remarkable and unique patron,” the Times reporters wrote. “He has bankrolled Mr. Rubio’s campaigns. He has financed Mr. Rubio’s legislative agenda. And, at the same time, he has subsidized Mr. Rubio’s personal finances, as the rising politician and his wife grappled with heavy debt and big swings in their income.”
The Times added that Braman will be subsidizing Rubio’s presidential campaign with at least $10 million in cash, and that Rubio has used his positions in government to ensure that the “money has flowed both ways” as Braman’s pet projects get funding from taxpayers.
“Even in an era dominated by super-wealthy donors, Mr. Braman stands out, given how integral he has been not only to Mr. Rubio’s political aspirations but also to his personal finances,” the Times wrote.
These revelations will continue to irk Rubio moving forward, as he tries to vault past his work for the donor class in pushing the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. While Rubio now says he wouldn’t back a “comprehensive” immigration bill, he and his aides have frequently confirmed he supports all the same policies in exactly the same order as the Gang of Eight bill would have done. He still supports amnesty of some sort for some illegal aliens, he would back granting so-called “DREAMer” illegal aliens—recipients of President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program legislative amnesty before the border is secured—and he wouldn’t a required a verifiably secured border or implemented interior enforcement before either the wider legislative amnesty or the massive increase in legal immigration that he wants begin.
In fact, last week, Clinton came out in support of some immigration policies that Rubio apparently backs—meaning there is now no official difference between Bush, Clinton or Rubio on one of the biggest policy areas that will dominate the 2016 election cycle.
“If Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further,” Clinton said in Las Vegas.
Both Jeb Bush and Rubio have said also they wouldn’t revoke the executive amnesty status that Obama’s actions have provided to illegal aliens if they were elected president.
A Rubio adviser, Whit Ayres, is quoted in Agence-France Presse wire as attacking Clinton as “running even further to the left than Barack Obama.”
“Executive actions on immigration are exactly the wrong way to solve a broken immigration system. If anything we need more bipartisan approaches to addressing a broken system, not declarations of unilateral action,” Ayres said.
Policy-wise, however, Bush, Clinton and Rubio don’t sound all that far apart.
“Under current law, permanent residence is first step towards citizenship. We wouldn’t change that,” Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant told Yahoo News when asked last week if Rubio’s position is that legal status would eventually turn into citizenship for illegal aliens if such status were granted.
That’s exactly what Clinton believes.
“When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status,” Clinton said of Republicans who don’t want to grant citizenship immediately to the illegal aliens they’d amnesty.